Excelsior Park holds quite a special place in watchmaking history. It was a fine-quality watch manufacturer, but the company’s name remains unknown to many today. The reason is simple: EP mostly delivered cases and movements to other familiar watch brands, including Zenith, Girard-Perregaux, and Gallet.

Applying the rule of thumb when randomly browsing vintage watch dealers or auction sites, you bump into 50 other-branded EP watches before you run across a fully branded Excelsior Park watch. And we are not even talking about the watch’s condition yet, which would increase the ratio. For the record, this estimate is purely subjective and based on my browsing habits and preferences. But still, it gives you a simple indication of how difficult it is to find something special branded Excelsior Park. As a warm-up reading, I suggest checking out Balazs’s story about landing his iconic EP watch with its characteristic stick hands and so-called “coathanger 7” in NOS condition.

Phantom watches

Excelsior Park had its catalogs in the past, which often depicted watches without any logo printed on them. But we can say for sure that they were also produced in such a way. Recently, I saw a non-branded Excelsior Park Sextant/Navigator, exactly like it was promoted in catalogs. The owner wanted to sell it, but he decided to keep it in the end since it was part of his family heritage.

The hunt for pulsation dials

Last year, I scored another lucky find, the Gallet Medigraph with a pulsation dial. We know that the same pulsation dial was found in flatter cases with straight lugs and rectangular pushers and was branded Jaquet or Marathon. I noted that the Medigraph version resurfaced with round-pusher cases carrying the Excelsior Park logo just twice. Once was in the same style as my Gallet watch, while the other one was combined with a red tachymeter scale on the outer edge.

Excelsior Park "Olimpico" pulsation dial

A surprising find

Now that you understand the scarcity of pulsation-dial watches branded with the Excelsior Park logo, you can imagine how surprised I was to bump into today’s hero on eBay. During a weekend two years ago, I got an email notification about the new Excelsior Park watch listing. I opened the link, and I could not believe my eyes. I had never seen this dial configuration on an EP watch before. As a bonus, it came with a black dial and controversial “minty” lume. We will get into each of these separately.

Image: WatchProZine

The watch model

My first thought was if it was correct or not. I was aware of an EP pulsation dial from the ’70s that came in an era-specific cushion case. But I didn’t remember spotting any in a round case. I studied the quality of the dial printing, and it seemed original. The final decision to pull the trigger came after I found a practically identical dial combined with the same hand style in the Girard-Perregaux ref. 8846 N Olimpico Chronograph.

Image: The Blomman Watch Report

Diving into the Girard-Perregaux Olimpico Chronograph

As The Blomman Watch Report indicates, this specific model started the legendary Girard-Perregaux Olimpico Chronograph line. According to Blomman’s contact at the Girard-Perregaux manufacture, the idea and the name “Olimpico” chronograph came from the Mexican Girard-Perregaux agent Guido de Angelis, who, at that time, saw a possibility of selling more watches during the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

Production volume

Blomman also claims that 500 pieces of the 8846 N Olimpico were produced, including two dial versions, white and black. No one knows how many of each color was made, but based on his observation, the black dial is less common. I have never seen the late-’60s Excelsior Park catalog, but what we have today could be one of the role models for Girard-Perregaux Olimpico. How many pieces branded Excelsior Park were produced? We can only guess… The fact is, I have never seen another one.

Excelsior Park "Olimpico" pulsation dial

Steel versus white

There are two major differences between the GP 8846 N Olimpico and my Excelsior Park. The first is the color of the watch hands. While the GP carries shiny steel hands, all six hands on my EP are white. I’m a huge fan of this decision, and I always will be! Whether it was early Omega Speedmasters, the Nivada CASD, or the Rodania Geometer, I am not a fan of polished steel hands with black dials. The reason is simple: the legibility is awful. As proved by hundreds of chronographs rotating on my wrist, white hands against a black dial is the ultimate combination.

Excelsior Park "Olimpico" pulsation dial

Crazy mint lume

The second major difference is the color of the lume. The GP has classy lume that ages beautifully into an orange or sandy yellow tone. But look at my Excelsior Park. To an untrained eye, it can be a horrifying experience. I know it; I remember when I first saw this lume style. It feels wrong, utterly crazy, and sick. It’s fighting the stereotype and appears anything but original. I have to say, though, since I acquired two watches with lume like this, it has grown on me.

Excelsior Park "Olimpico" pulsation dial

I spoke about the crazy mint lume with Fred Mandelbaum, who confirmed that the Breitling SuperOcean Mk2 and Mk3 from the 1970s had “minty” lume tones too. But they weren’t as minty as we see on Gallet watches, which are known for sloppy lume application. It often makes them look as if the lume is the result of some barbarian renovation.

Image: Fred Mandelbaum

Back to color

Fred sent me an example of how Breitling got its lume “tuned” in the ’70s, when “soft yellow was too old,” as Fred says. But still, when I compare the color of Gallet and EP’s lume to that, it is just unbelievable. Breitling lume, no matter how minty, is still a bit more grounded and down to earth. That EP and Gallet lume strikes me with how sickly artificial and clinically cosmic it is. “Yes, like Colgate,” Fred humorously confirms.

Excelsior Park "Olimpico" pulsation dial

Last thoughts

A pulsation scale designed to encircle the dial and calculated for 30 pulsations is easier to read, more precise, and (I believe we all agree) more beautiful. But it doesn’t make this pulsation-dial Excelsior Park less scarce. I am curious whether we will see another one resurface. But so far, this combination of black and white with detailing in red and blue and spiced up and with out-of-this-world lume tone is a hell of a visual experience. Happy hunting!