In fact, the Enicar Sherpa Graph 300 is powered by a Valjoux 72 movement, the same technology in the back of the manual winding Daytona Cosmographs. These watches also come with a motorsport history: the early models from 1960 were promoted by Stirling Moss with Jim Clark wearing one on the way to the Formula One world championship in 1962 and 1963.
There are four generations of models that show small differences in the dial design, the logo and the hands. The Sherpa Graph 300 offered by Tennants (20% buyer's premium) appears to be a Mark III model from c.1966, two years before Clark’s untimely death.
As with earlier designs, the black dial with tachymetre scale features three grey ‘pie pan’ subsidiary dials with pumpstyle pushers to the case at two and four o’clock. Particular to this model is the second hand with a round lollipop red dot, the stick pointers to the subs and a case with a Sherpa 300 bayonet Seapearl back with the numbers 072-02-01 as a model designation. It came with its original bracelet and papers including a receipt for Sin$127.50 from a jeweller in Singapore dated August 26, 1967.
It was undercooked at £800-1200 (these watches now retail for close to £10,000) but went on to make £6800 in the Leyburn, North Yorkshire, saleroom.
Brand names really matter to watch buyers. But it is the good-looking, goodquality mechanical timekeepers by ‘lesser’ firms that are providing the market with new narratives.
Many of them are by firms that were casualties of the ‘quartz crisis’ (when countless makers and their suppliers went to the wall as consumers embraced a new and cheaper technology). Others with histories as long as Cartier or Patek Philippe have simply faded from prominence.
Very little is known about the Swiss firm Rodania other than the handful of gents’ and ladies’ watches that only occasionally come to market.
Comfortably its most admired issue is the Geometer, a good-looking chronometer with twin pump pushers driven by a Valjoux 72, ‘adjusted in three positions’ to provide superior performance. Made in 1954, it predates many more famous tool watches including the original Omega Speedmaster that it may well have inspired. But while a first-generation Speedy will cost six figures, Rodania never achieved stardom as a brand.
These watches seldom appear for sale. One did surface at Bellmans (22% buyer's premium) in Wisborough Green, West Sussex, on November 17. It was estimated at £800-1200 but made £6000.
Another of the most admired chronographs of the 1940s, the Vetta Ermetico Reference 5347, appeared at Fellows (23% buyer's premium) in Birmingham on November 15 and sold well over hopes at £2200 (estimate £120-180).
Vetta, an iteration of the Wyler Watch Company, was Italy’s own Swiss watch brand and it is Italian styling that elevates these watches above an otherwise straightforward chronograph.
Powered by Valjoux 22 movement, the Ermetico is distinctive for its white dial enlivened by pops of primary colour – a blue pulsations scale and red telemeter – and the ingenious high-pressure closure system of the case back which preserves the mechanism from the effects of humidity and gives the watch its name.