Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Mortuus » November 1st 2014, 4:59pm

By way of introduction, this piece is from a recently-begun series of monthly posts I've been doing over at Watchforums and BDWF, entitled Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month. Basically, I take one of my vintage watches and give it a review-like write up with pictures. This particular piece was written for the MMMMotM entry for the just completed month of October 2014, and it was very well-received, so much so that a couple of my good friends who hold memberships both here and "over there" suggested that I share it with our Watchlords family. So, for my Watchlords Brethren and Sistren, here is my 1959 Timex Viscount:


Yep, my fellow Hunters of Horological Happiness, it’s that time of month again, where I pay special attention to one of the great watchmakers whose pieces from our times past now grace my current collection of what are now considered vintage watch treasure. Citing those vintage pieces and those who built them – thus transforming their names into household words throughout the interwebz – is just one of the ways I get to say thank you to those who built them, not to mention gaining an opportunity to show off one of my favorite vintage pieces in my ever-growing collection of excellent ‘oldies.’ And they don’t get much more excellent than this particular maker, a company that advertised its products with the phrase, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” (I can almost hear John Cameron Swayze’s voice, can’t you? You can? Would you like some of my new medication? It really tones things down quite a bit…) Yep, the good old, All-American Company known as Timex, a manufacturer that produced literally millions of timepieces before most of us here were even born…

As it was for so many kids from the “Baby Boomer” generation, my first watch was a Timex ‘wind and grind,’ as my dad called it, an all-mechanical watch with a white dial, silver numbers and hands, and a dark grey-green leather strap. I wore that little (25mm case) watch every day for the better part of five years, until it finally gave up the ghost from too many over-windings, pick-up games of hardball and rag-tag games of ‘Army’, played on those same San Pedro oilfields where Cagney’s last words, “Top of the world, Ma!”, rocked across the screens during the country’s 30-year, on-and-off again affair with what has become known as “Film Noir.” Of course, these were the days before playing ‘Army’ became a thoroughly evil, testosterone-fueled exercise that turned otherwise good little boys into murdering little ‘pretend’ Navy Frogmen, Marine Marauders or Army Rangers, bent on destroying the enemy before they could sneak up on us and draw first blood… Actually, it was Union Oil’s hapless security guards we were avoiding, but hey, an enemy’s an enemy! And everywhere my imagination took us on all those Saturdays and Sunday afternoons – places with names like Guadalcanal, Mt. Suribachi and Midway Island – my rugged little Timex came along for the fight, and was often the watch that was the guide when the call was made to ‘synchronize watches’ before our raids took place.

At any rate, I hadn’t even thought of my old Timex in many a year when I came across the picture of a beautiful silver-tone automatic Timex, under the heading, “Other Things You Might Like,” at the bottom of an eBay page filled with all manner of watches and watch accessories. It had a silver-tone “Twist-O-Flex” ™ bracelet, the ones the older kids, like Carey Hanchook and Jimmy Puckett used to wear on ‘the battlefield.’ All these years later, and there it was, only this time it was in a far more appropriate size, with a 40mm case and a 20mm bracelet. And damned if it wasn’t ‘born’ the same year I was! (And, no, I won’t tell you the year…but I will tell you that at the time I was born, there were 49 states in this marvelous country of mine, a situation that did not last for very long, truth to tell. So feel free to go off and use your trusty Google programs; I’ll be waiting right here when you get back…


So, now that we’re together again, let’s have a look at our Mort’s Monthly Moldy for October 2014, a beautiful Timex Viscount Self-Winding Watch from (go ahead and enter the year you found right here, please): ________.

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Manufacturer: Timex
Model: Viscount
Age: Early- to #mid-19____. (Sorry, but I did tell you to go and look it up…)
Condition: Pre-owned, working
Band: Period-original silvertone Speidel ‘Twist-O-Flex’ (see the picture above and the two immediately below); replaced with NOS, after-market grey-green leather strap
Dial: Original signed, very light brush-textured white
Case: Original, 10-kt white gold-filled / plated stainless steel
Crown: Original unsigned
Crystal: Original acrylic
Case Size: 40mm w/o crown, 42.5mm w/crown
Movement: Timex In-House (Model 29) Automatic / “self-winding”
Functions: Hours, minutes
Power Reserve: ~15 hrs.

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Appearance

At first glance, it’s tempting to dismiss this watch as just another simple piece of ‘cookie-cutter design appearance’ from five-plus decades ago, but a genuine, detailed look allows you to really see the beauty of its ostensibly simple design:

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The gently brushed, almost sunray-styled white dial is both simple and beautiful, serving as the perfect background for the steel hour markers and hands. The numeric (or, if you must, Arabic) figures at 12, 3, 6 and 9 are deceptively simple-looking, but a closer examination shows that they possess a three-dimensional design; there are no hard edges, but rather gentle, curved sides and angles that allow the light to strike them at constantly changing angles, thereby enhancing their brightness and 3-D appearance. They are of the same shade – and low-shine polishing – as the case and bezel. The remaining markers are of the ‘arrowhead’ style, with the same, curving 3-D effect and limited polishing as the numerals. The arrowheads are longer (or, if you prefer, taller) than their numerical counterparts, but this gives the dial a very pleasant visual balance that works quite well.

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The hour/minute hands are of the alpha pleines style, which is simple enough to complement the numerals and arrowhead markers, but detailed enough to add a sense of high style, with the ‘blade’ portion gently curving first outward, then inward to a point. The ‘blade’ is also stamp-folded in the middle to give it an almost sword-like appearance. The seconds hand is long and graceful, extending all the way up and into the minute markers; it’s balanced on the other side with a short, wide stem and a larger, oval-shaped ‘weighted end.’ The total effect is to join all of the dial components together into one complete unit that looks as if it tracks the time flawlessly (which it pretty much does).

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The Timex signature, just below the 12 o’clock position, uses a simple typeface and is executed in a manner that resembles black ink. This same effect is used in the chapter ring for the minute markers, and the look is both classic and low key; using anything else might have made things too busy. Nonetheless, it’s good to remember that, at 40mm (or ~42mm with the crown), this was a very large watch for its day, so ‘busying up’ the dial might be a little harder than I’m thinking it is.

The watch came with a Speidel Twist-O-Flex™ bracelet in silvertone, but it was both too narrow and too short for my 7.75” wrist. While I’m not normally an anti-Speidel ‘purist’ (read: snob), my hope was to come across a leather strap in the same grey-green color as that on my first boyhood Timex. Surprisingly, it didn’t take as long as I thought it would to locate and purchase one; within just a few days, I was happily installing a NOS Timex leather men’s strap in that very self-same, grey-green shade I remembered so fondly from my childhood.

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Engineering

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I’m not much on pulling the back’s off my watches for the purpose of taking pictures or gathering other info from inside the case, so in terms of this watch’s ‘engineering status,’ I can only tell you that it loses about six to eight seconds per day, runs very smoothly, and manages to keep up with the dead guy quite well. It is, after all, one tough watch, built to “take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.” Of course, I don’t dress up in Dad’s old Marine Corps fatigues and play ‘Army’ in the San Pedro oilfields these days, nor do I typically have to evade fat and hapless security guards sent to detain me…well, there was this one guard – whose nametag bore the moniker “Rumpus,” of all things – at the Starbuck’s Coffee shop in Solano Beach, but that’s another story for another time. The bottom line is that this Timex continues to earn its reputation for toughness under all of the unique, day-to-day stressors that are beset upon the everyday collector. Or, put another way, it’s aged a lot better in its 55 years than I have in mine.

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In wrapping things up for this month’s edition of Mort’s Monthly Moldy Mechanical Machinery (?), I’d like to point out that only a very lucky few people ever get the chance to revisit their childhood past and relive some of those old memories from back in the day when parents could – and very often did – tell their kids to get out of the house “and don’t let me see you back here until dinnertime!” I glance down at my wrist, and it’s like that little old watch is back with me again, ready to take on those evil ‘sons-of-beached whales,’ as we called our imaginary enemies back in the day, out there in the Solomons, or some such place. Of course, this is a different watch – and, for that matter, a far different wrist than I used to see all those years ago – but I still smile broadly when I see this old Timex, waiting amongst the other vintage watches, to see if it’s gonna get picked out from amongst all the others for a day of wistful smiles and warm memories. And, of late, that’s exactly what’s been happening on more days than not.

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Because this watch, unlike any of the other watches in my oldies collection, can go deeper into my heart and much farther into my cache of wonderful memories, and help me relive each and every one of them, just by being there on my wrist and waiting for me to glance down at it and smile. And that’s what collecting vintage watches should be all about. (And, yep, you heard it here first…)

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Many, many thanks for taking time out of your day to share some old memories and endure my sometimes-ponderous philosophical rattling. As always, I’m in your debt for dropping by…

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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby eddiea » November 1st 2014, 5:16pm

Great review of a pretty evoking and cool watch, simplicity at his best!...congrats.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby JAS1125 » November 1st 2014, 5:43pm

Great review and pics Mort....I didn't realize this was 10k white gold.
Since your post at BDWF I was nosing around Ebay for these, and it's very hard to find one as nice as yours.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby NorthCountry » November 1st 2014, 6:29pm

Thanks for posting Mort. I enjoyed it immensely. I can appreciate the joys of finding the emotional connection to a material object. I eagerly await the next installment. :P
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Bahoomba » November 1st 2014, 6:44pm

mort, ya did it again. Great stuff, as always.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby conjurer » November 1st 2014, 6:50pm

That's a nice fucking write-up of a cool goddamn watch, you damned old goat.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby biglove » November 1st 2014, 7:14pm

Previously shared on FB it is such an awesome write up!
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Tzimisces » November 2nd 2014, 9:21am

40mm is a good size for 1959, which makes this little gem all the better. Like you, and virtually every other American of a certain age, Timex was the watch.


BTW, if I'm not mistaken, that is a TBM Avenger.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby gerdson » November 2nd 2014, 11:23am

Note to myself: Read the bloody thing tomorrow in the train.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby hcharles » November 2nd 2014, 12:11pm

First rate write up on a blast from the past watch. Great post with photos. Thank you, your deadness.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Mortuus » November 2nd 2014, 2:17pm

edds, JAS, NorthC, B-Hoomber, Conjoiner, bigloaf & HC:

Many, many thanks to each of you for your very kind bon mots about this write-up. As I told my buddies who recommended I post it here, it was a genuine pleasure to write and even edit. However, nothing -- nothing -- matches the pleasure of the amazing feedback that y'all consistently provide; at the risk of sounding treacly, this means more to me than I could ever express here...

Good call, Tzimmy; that is an "Avenger" (one of several wooden models Olde Mort has acquired over the years; it's an aviator thing, I think). Not absolutely sure if it's a TBF or TBM, though the lighter blue coloring makes me think it would have been built during early Avenger production runs, thus making it a Grumman TBF vice the TBM, built by GM under license to Grumman. Either way, good eye, sir...

NorthC: Your avatar always makes me chuckle...I mean, what a cool hat! :mrgreen:

Oh yeah, almost forgot: hope you enjoy the bloody thing, Gerdy... ;)

Again, many thanks (and blessings!) to each of you on this Dia de los Muertos for 2014. 8-)
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby AlbertaTime » November 2nd 2014, 5:29pm

First rate write-up. Cool, clean piece.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Nuvolari » November 2nd 2014, 6:07pm

Fantastic write up Signore Morti! It triggered my own little flashback... To my first watch, a hideous brown dial Timex that given to me by my granddad as a tot in 1975 and was very cool in it's day. After all, it was a real watch! I wore it for a out 6 years before I was so curious about how it worked that I took it completely apart... You know, like Henry Ford might have done.

Except, [sigh] unlike Henri, I was not of sufficient mechanical competency to put it back together. Doh! :x

Great story and watch!
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby gregl515 » November 2nd 2014, 9:07pm

Reminds of my first watch, a 21 jewel Gruen handcranker I wore for almost thirty years. My watchmaker retired and I couldn't find anyone else to repair it when it stopped for the last time.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Mortuus » November 2nd 2014, 10:45pm

AlbertaTime wrote:First rate write-up. Cool, clean piece.

Thanks, Ron!
Last edited by Mortuus on November 2nd 2014, 10:49pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Mortuus » November 2nd 2014, 10:49pm

Nuvolari wrote:Fantastic write up Signore Morti! It triggered my own little flashback... To my first watch, a hideous brown dial Timex that given to me by my granddad as a tot in 1975 and was very cool in it's day. After all, it was a real watch! I wore it for a out 6 years before I was so curious about how it worked that I took it completely apart... You know, like Henry Ford might have done.

Except, [sigh] unlike Henri, I was not of sufficient mechanical competency to put it back together. Doh! :x

Great story and watch!

Many thanks, Nouveau Lawrence! I'm glad this post was so evocative, though it was of a "hideous brown dial" ( :mrgreen: )...I hope you were able to give the remains a proper burial. :?
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Mortuus » November 2nd 2014, 10:52pm

gregl515 wrote:Reminds of my first watch, a 21 jewel Gruen handcranker I wore for almost thirty years. My watchmaker retired and I couldn't find anyone else to repair it when it stopped for the last time.

I've a couple old Gruen's, and like this Timex, both hold very special places in my heart (and collection, too). Thanks for stopping by, Greg!
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Wasp » November 3rd 2014, 6:17am

I can see you making that Sopwith-7 dance with the same style as your composition. Nice stuff.


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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby jason_recliner » November 3rd 2014, 1:19pm

Epic review, Mort. It's like you kept writing and writing until you ceased to be!
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby nimbleboy » November 3rd 2014, 6:09pm

That's a beautiful watch! One day hopefully I'll find one like that...
Is it safe?
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Mortuus » November 4th 2014, 9:09pm

Wasp wrote:I can see you making that Sopwith-7 dance with the same style as your composition. Nice stuff.

Cheers

Thanks, Waspy, but I'm more of a Spad driver, m'self... :mrgreen:
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Mortuus » November 4th 2014, 9:12pm

nimbleboy wrote:That's a beautiful watch! One day hopefully I'll find one like that...

Thanks, NB! Keep looking; they pop up more often than you'd think. Continued luck to you in your search, sir...
Last edited by Mortuus on November 4th 2014, 9:14pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Timex "Viscount" Automatic Watch from 1959

Postby Mortuus » November 4th 2014, 9:13pm

jason_recliner wrote:Epic review, Mort. It's like you kept writing and writing until you ceased to be!

Thanks, Tobes...but don't worry, there's no way in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks that I'm going anywh
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