#TBT This Who-Cares-What-Reference Wyler Is A Vintage Masterpiece
I can easily find ten reasons why this Wyler watch could fetch up to €3,000. Do you know what the best part is? If you are lucky enough, you can find it in the wild for about a tenth of that price. That’s because only a few collectors care. Let’s look into it a bit more.
I don’t like talking about the monetary value of watches because I don’t believe that’s what our hobby should be about. Well, here I am, talking about the value anyway. I am thinking now about how I got there. The reason is that I have been wearing this Wyler watch for the last few days and it got under my skin. I realized how different it is from anything “standard” that I usually wear.
I carried this Wyler in my mind for the last few days and compared it to other watches. After some time, I realized that many watches I paid €3K–5K for don’t reach such a level of originality and creativity as this Wyler. Hence my fascination over what you can get for €300–400 and how much more interesting in its details it can be than a watch worth ten times more. It’s a funny world.
The real patina
I spent last weekend reviving the first-generation 1978 Honda Civic I found in Belgium. It’s a fairly rare four-door version with a 1500cc engine. It came from a gentleman in his mid-80s that has almost just as many cars. You might think he started selling cars to get rid of some of them. Well, partially. He sold me this to buy another. Beautiful.
The car was parked for 29 years. First, we checked the engine to see if it was turning freely. The spark plugs were dry and clean, so we didn’t bother adding new ones. We put a new battery in, and the starter got spinning nicely. My brother helped the carburetor by spraying some gasoline directly into it, and there it went; it turned on instantly. We were amazed. After almost 30 years of storage in poor conditions, it started like new — the natural beauty of the era when things were built to last.
Rainy Wyler dial
I had the Wyler on my wrist during this revival operation. What struck me big time was the unusual patina. Typically, you get some discoloration, fade-outs, and blemishes. This Wyler is different than any watch I’ve had before. It’s hard to capture in pictures, but it looks like the body of a classic car after 30 years left in the wild. I didn’t touch the dial and forbade the watchmaker to clean it. It has an unusual patina like a car body after years of rain. There is uneven, darker grime, ranging from yellow to green and up to dark brown spots like it was exposed to years of precipitation. I find it fascinating.
The patina is strong, but it’s not the only magical element here. This dial looks quite simple, but it is stunningly creative and playful. It’s multilayered, I would say. Where to start? Take the numbers, their size, style, and arrangement. If you look at it all for too long, you could find it chaotic — the 11, 12, 1 on the outer track on top, 9 and 3 on the inner side of the track, and 7 and 5 on the bottom, again on the outer side. The 11, 1, 7, and 5 form a rectangle. They are corners that copy the case shape perfectly. The 12 sits on top like a queen, slightly taller, looking premium and magnificent.
The minute track has is era-defining railroad style, which is, in my eyes, the ultimate design. The unusual twist comes with the lume dots that got a premium spot on the inner side where you would expect rectangular indexes. The design story goes on with another thin circle that divides it from the brighter or darker central ring. Yes, depending on lighting conditions and reflections, the central disc can be darker or lighter than the rest of the dial.
Thought on sub-seconds
Running seconds separated into a dedicated sub-dial can often feel either too separate or lost in the dial. That’s not the case here, where the sub-dial plays an integral part in the design, perfectly counterbalancing the “12” queen. The “Unbreakable” inscription — very specific to Wyler watches, as described here — is one of the best terms ever used instead of “antichoc” or “shockproof.” What a sharp marketing genius it was who decided to put a real “customer promise” instead some sophisticated but boring tech word on the dial!
A razor-sharp case
The case construction is equally fascinating. You don’t want to bathe with it, that’s for sure, but opening up the razor-sharp yet poetic case is a special experience. The case back comes off with the movement and dial that sits in it perfectly tight. It would help if you were careful about what side you open the case from. You need to slide the case opener through the bottom side because the upper side has a sharp tooth that sticks into a tiny hole in the upper case part. Forcing the case open from the wrong side can damage it big time, so be careful.
I am still going on listing interesting details. This time, it’s the crystal, which ensures the smoothest under-the-cuff experience. If you look at the profile shot, you’ll notice that the crystal is perfectly aligned with the thickness of the case. Honestly, I am not sure if the crystal is original or if it was meant to be like that. However, the tiny case notch visible underneath might suggest that it was designed in this specific way. Rolling your thumb over the thin crystal and smoothly sliding it to the case side is a seamlessly pleasant experience. Your shirt will be happy too.
I don’t know what movement is inside, and I didn’t bother exploring much. It’s good enough to keep the adorably orange baby syringe hands spinning around at the pace they should run at. I got the watch on some cheap strap that, honestly, was quite ugly. After a week on the wrist, I realized it deserved a more “up-to-date” strap that would underline its character. If you thought a Cartier Tank was a theater/business meeting killer, I dare to offer a new contender. Happy hunting!