Watch Hunting in Bangkok: Jatujak Weekend Market Bangkok, August 3rd, 2002

Dear All

This time we were on our own, Khun Bud, Khun Daed and I met at the train station of the Bangkok Sky Train Saphan Khwai (Waterbuffalo Bridge). If you want to go to the Jatujak Weekend market, please drive to the end station Mo Chit and then you will back back a little bit and immediately see the Weekend Market with its huge crowds.
Getting off at the second last station gives you the chance to browse the various shops on the sidewalks on the way to Jatujak, about 1 km of booth next to booth. Of course not all of them carry watches, this is the area where you can find about anything that is small and light enough to be carried to those sidewalks. Amulets are probably the most popular items, followed by tools, shoes and house hold items. There are maybe about 10 watch sellers here every weekend.

Of course there are lots of fake watches. And I have to say, that some of the fakes have undergone a quite peculiar metamorphosis: I have seen an Omega DeVille with Display Back and Microrotor for THB 13'000, that is about USD 300. The movement was gold-plated. This copy's dial was so good, I decided to give Tommy T.S. a call, since he would know for sure whether Omega ever produced a microrotor. And of course Omega did not. Tommy T.S. then generously offered to be called whenever there would be a question during the browsing. I was of course "greeng jay" (Thai for feeling sorry to bother someone) to call him again, but I really admire Tommy's generousity.

We browsed all the booth in direction to Jatujak and then visited some of the booths there planning to go back to Saphan Khwai on the way back. Khun Daed bought a nice Wittnauer 17 Jewels Handwind from the 50ies. I am sorry, I was too lazy to carry a camera. First of all, inside Jatujak they are not happy to be photograph as some of the items are fake or come from more then doubtful origins. And I have to say, I do not have the elephant skin of a newspaper's photographer to take pictures of people that are not really enthusiastic of being in my camera.

I saw some interesting Rolexes, a very old Rolex from London Coombes (a watch shop obviously). I remember James M. Dowling having posted a picture of the watch. I am sure it could be found on his website. Another very nice Rolex from the 50ies carried a 5 countries Patent Pending engraving in the inner case back and the movement showed "Rolex Hairspring".

Besides those interesting Rolexes, I did not see a lot of interesting watches. Interesting maybe, but the prices made you adjust your enthusiasm for sure. I realized that Jatujak's booth rents must be quite high, creating the need of adjusting the prices accordingly. I found a Seiko Hi-Beat Ladies' Diver in Jatujak for more then double the price I had paid for it outside Jatujak and my watch's bracelet was in a lot better condition.

Thus after enjoying the "wrestling" in crowds that seem to flow slowly through the narrow alleys under that roof of Jatujak market like Lava streams, we decided to give Saphan Khwai another more scrutinous try.

Jim, an American who teaches English in Bangkok and who had joined us in Jatujak, wanted an Omega and his budget was THB 3000, ca. USD 70. That budget of course was too tight, one need several trips to find an Omega in reasonable condition for that kind of money. In due course we were looking at a range of Omega Pie Pans, all had original cases and movements, but the dial was a replica, showing "T Swiss Made T" and not a molecule of Tritium on the dial.

A LeCoultre looked interesting, I will have to check if MTS 416 is really a LeCoultre movement designation and then maybe go for it next time.

When browsing those THB 3000 watches, I decided to buy this Royal Handwind 17 Jewels because of its really interesting gold plating, you will see why I say interesting on the 2nd picture:

Can you find what is not original? Maybe you wait and look at the other pictures first. I will give the solution at the end of this article. The watch was in surprisingly good condition. CrystalClear will have some work, but I was pleasantly surprised by its over all condition. And I love the classic looks of it and its relatively unknown brand. A simple handwind in very classic style.

After inspecting the movement, I had no doubt that this watch was genuine and decided that I wanted a watch with such an interesting gold plating. The bezel is gold plated and so are the tops of the lugs. The gold is very bright, thus the watch looks like stainless from certain angles.

Interesting gold plating on this Royal Handwind from the late 60ies or early 70ies (Incabloc) - (just my guess as for now

The right lug looks like it is pretty scratched, but only from this angle. I will show you with two shots of the back how some Ebay dealers manage to make used watches look like new. Under halogen and fluorescent lights, all scuffs will show and the watch will look worse then it actually is. Plus the angle of the shot, can hide or reveal dings and scratches.

This would be a good Ebay shot, the case back actually looks very good, but please see the next picture

A slightly different angle reveals a lot more wear, but none of the scratches is deep, and that is quite rare for the watches sold at Saphan Khwai, most of them show severe "wounds" from opening attempts and other abuse

The inner case back shows a great pearlage and the movement was surprisingly clean. A beautifully designed AS 1130 is the heart of this nice handwind. The bridge shape is almost Avant-Garde. The grey O-ring is made of Teflon and obviously did a great job protecting the movement.

Rob who is in the progress to teach me some watchmaking skills, told me that we would need some watches to work on, so I am sure he will be happy to work on this one with me.

The screws did not receive much abuse, the whole movement and the wheels are of a very good quality and in a nice condition. The too small and not original crown made it very hard to wind this watch, probably the reason why it was for sale. The crown has been replaced now and the watch winds very smoothly now.

This is the movement after having been serviced on August 29, 2002. Please note, that there is now an appropriate crown for a hand wind watch.

Then it looked like this would be it, no more interesting watches or better no more watches with only minor wear. Just next to the chairs to the Sky Train station, I noticed a little vitrine with some interesting watches on the second shelf. And there it was, this tiny little ugly duckling :-) I certainly was very lucky to spot that only Orient watch, since the watch is really tiny, 26 mm excluding crown and 19 mm for the dial.

As the condition was acceptable I decided to go for it. And I got even awarded for my courage - the watch can be wound!  And it is ticking right on time since 24 hours, as is the Royal Handwind. Those things of course, you will only find out the day after :-)

The watch is a stunning 11.5 mm thick but I have to say, that I really like the looks of those 70ies Orients - of course just a guess at this stage

The watch back shows a different notation of the Serial Numbers then younger Orients, thus I guess it really could be from the 70ies. Later Orient produced mainly automatic movements without winding gears.

This movement is certainly looking forward to a bath in the ultra-sonic cleaning machine, but again, the condition is not bad and the watch runs perfectly. But of course, this will be another "Rob's Watch School" object

55941, I hope to be able to identify this watch with this typical Orient rotor inscription

Thank you for reading so far, I hope you have enjoyed the tour, the real tour took 2 hours and 30 minutes and one coffee and a can of Pepsi Max were required to fuel the legs. It was actually not too hot yesterday, but inside Jatujak under that metal roof with all those lights, kitchens and people, you will have to drink to keep going. Browsing outside is actually less hot, but the fumes from the traffic make up for this. But that is the Big Mango :-)

Reto Castellazzi, Bangkok, August 4th, 2002

Solution: Royal Handwind: the crown is far too small for a handwind watch! It must have been replaced sometimes ago and I will have the chance now to pick a crown of my liking. I love this big flat handwind crowns and I am looking forward to picking a nice one