A Happy Holiday to all of you who are celebrating! Forgive the late publish today on Christmas Eve, but I’m currently on holiday in the state known as “Flori-duh” – where the craziness may begin early, but little gets done until late. Double that with a household full of kids and you really get the picture! Enjoy the time…and grab an egg nog and sit down for a lengthy read!
December 4, 2015 was the Friday before I left Germany for the USA in the name of business and pleasure. Normally, a week before I leave for such a trip, I think about what it is that I need to do on the weekend to prepare for such a journey. Boring tasks such as visits to the grocery store, packing, or taking care of mundane errands normally fills the space. This very Friday and the ensuing weekend, though, were slated to be quite different. You see, I had the mother lode arriving in my hands: if only for a short while. To me, December 4, 2015 will forever be remembered as Bund-tag – or Bund-day for those of you who don’t “sprechen sie”. Why? Well, I had 4 of them arrive on that very day and, by the way, each piece was highly unique.
The Bund…new or old or both?
The Bundeswehr chronographs notably made by Heuer and Leonidas (before Heuer bought the company) are the stuff of legends. These big, 42mm diameter flyback chronographs with killer looks are amongst the most well known military Replica Watches on the planet, but for some odd reason, while most other early Heuer models have long exited the realm of affordability, the Bunds have comparatively languished – at least up until recently. Why is that? Well, as officially issued chronographs, the Bunds were returned by their pilot lessors and serviced. The services often added new dials or movements in order to make the watches fit for duty and I think this has had a lot to do with quelling their values. Chalk one up for enthusiasts, though, because military fake watches represent a rare niche in the vintage world where service parts are at least deemed as semi-acceptable. For me, though, this mix of old – often in the case of the…case – mixed with bright white hands or dials just felt odd. So, I’d passively been looking for a solid Bund when I started chatting with @watchfred. And Fred, after doing some serious mining, tapped a serious ore vein.
Fred stumbled upon a collector in Germany who has put together a fairly impressive vintage watch collection. For one reason or another, though, the collector considered letting go of his Bund collection. We’ll talk about what a collection of Bunds means because, honestly, I was really only aware of a couple different variations. In any case, a couple weeks of sketchy dialog followed and Fred was able to put together the deal that allowed for 4 Bunds to make their way to me for roughly 4 days for the purpose of capturing them on my Olympus. Folks, when I say I was dumbfounded upon opening the box that arrived via courier, it’s no joke. These watches are sublime. Before I list the Swiss replica watches that were included, let’s talk a little more about the Bunds, some of the lore, and some other reasons as to why I previously resisted purchasing one of these.
The Bund is made up of legendary stuff
Some history, but not much, is in order. I won’t recount the entire history of these watches in great detail because the article of all articles, at least as far as variations and classifications is here. The watches were originally issued in the 1960’s and were around for decades later. In fact, Sinn, under its original ownership, did a lot of the servicing of these watches under official contract in the later years. The watches, as mentioned before, were sent in and parts were swapped out as necessary to make them ready for duty. This, by the way included movements, which is why it’s possible to find the Valjoux 22, 222, or 230 per this article from our friends at WoundForLife.
You’ll have to pry the Bund from my cold, dead hand…
Regarding the Bunds and their following, I must say that I’m blown away that the Bunds are still relatively affordable and available because out of many of the watches I own or have studied, the Bund must rank near the top as having one of the most passionate crowds of owners. Seriously, I’ve read many posts where owners talk about how this will be the only watch they’ll own if they’re forced to get rid of everything else. Why is that? Well, to sum it up, the looks of this watch are epic and the brand name doesn’t hurt either. The watches, with their big cases and bezels, look something like an upsized Autavia but fit in well with other military pieces such as the Cairellis, etc. They’re bold, rugged looking and have fantastically clear dials as well. The fact that the fake Tag Heuer watches contain column-wheel chronograph movements within their front-loader cases that “flyback” and hack doesn’t hurt either. Honestly, my only reservation in the looks department was the employment of a 20mm lug width. I thought that 21-22mm was more in order like the lovely Breitling 765CP I reviewed, but to be honest, 20mm works. So, yes, this watch is darn near perfect aesthetically. I’m not sure if it would be the last watch on my wrist, but I now understand why people are so excited by them.