Collecting The First Swiss Quartz Movement: 5 Beta-21 Watches To Look For
The history of quartz is a complex and long one, so I will attempt keep it quick and painless. Quartz was created in 1928 by Bell Labs, and because of the sheer size of early quartz clocks, were for the most part limited to use in labs as reference watches. Quartz experimentation proceeded during that time and by the early 1960s quartz developments had been miniaturized enough to allow for them to be utilized in marine chronometers. It was at this time, that the major Swiss watch brands caught wind of this new technology and approximately 20 maisons (counting Omega, Piaget, and Patek Philippe) created the Center Electronique Horloger (CEH) in 1962 in Neuchâtel. The motivation behind the C.E.H. was to zero in on researching, creating, and delivering a quartz development sufficiently productive, reliable enough, and accurate enough for the up and coming generation of watchmaking.
After six years of research the main model, the Beta-1, was created in 1966, utilizing a 8192 Hz quartz oscillator mounted in an in-house integrated circuit. Presently in 1967, the Beta-2 was created and was awarded first prize at the “Concours Chronométrique International de l’Observatoire de Neuchâtel,” establishing a new precedent for accuracy over the trial of just .0003 seconds variation in rate each day (instead of the 3-10 seconds typical of wristwatch chronometers of the day).
The Beta-21 was created in 1969 and it was agreed by the 20 Swiss houses to deliver 6,000 of postulations developments. Later that year, a few hundred of the Beta-21 watches were released at Basel, establishing a new precedent at the Fair. The Beta-21 development was accurate to 5 seconds out of each month, which was far better than any automatic and manual-winding watch at the time. The plan for the Beta-21 watches were also extremely characteristic of the era – they were generally thick, angular and even chunky (partly due to legitimate need as the original of quartz developments were comparatively large.)
Unfortunately (or fortunately, contingent upon how one ganders at it), the Beta-21’s popularity before long faded. The developments were large, and ran out of power quickly. Additionally, the original houses that utilized the CEH delivered developments began to make their own in-house quartz developments that were smaller and more slender (like the Piaget P7 movement).
In today’s watch market watch the Beta-21 development has something of an underground clique following and the watches have become quite collectable. Unfortunately, the developments will not last perpetually (quartz developments cannot generally be repaired if the basic planning package fails) yet one can appreciate the overall plan, and what the Beta-21 stands for – a time of innovation and experimentation in watch history (much like the Apple Watch today). The main issue with purchasing Beta-21 watches is a ton of times the development has been replaced with the later Beta-22 development. This will greatly affect the value and uprightness, so purchaser beware. As any obvious watch-sweetheart knows, you have to regard the bad to adore the great. So with that, here are a portion of the more notorious and collectible Beta-21 wristwatches.
The Omega Electroquartz
This is probably the most recognizable and most common wristwatch with a Beta-21 development. It claims to be the “principal” Swiss quartz wristwatch to utilize the Beta-21 development. Omega made 10,000 Electroquartz watches between 1970 and 1977. These watches, contingent upon the metal and condition, these range in cost from $3,000-$10,000.
The IWC Da Vinci
Also launched in 1969, the Da Vinci had an intriguing hexagonal case. IWC invested much time and energy in building up the correct case to house the Beta-21 development. The Da Vinci was extremely popular and sold out quickly. Today you can discover the watches however, it ought to be noticed that a great deal of times the original Beta-21 developments have been replaced by the Beta-22. These are available to purchase online for under $3,000.
The Piaget 14101
There are two examples seen here. One with the tiger’s eye dial made in 1970, and the subsequent example encrusted with approximately 10 cts. of diamonds which was made in 1971. Again, you can see the larger than average case made to accommodate the sizable Beta-21 development. Piaget was exceptionally engaged with the utilization of the quartz development. This particular model was released in 1970 and was made until 1976 when Piaget started planning its own in-house development, the extra-slim 7P quartz development, which allowed for a smaller case.
This model with diamonds has come up at auction about twice in the past few years. They have fetched around $25,000-$30,000 each time contingent upon condition and accompaniments.
The Rolex Oysterquartz Reference 5100
Introduced as the primary quartz Rolex, the Reference 5100 was made in a restricted run of 1000, all of which sold out preceding conveyance. Each watch is engraved with the quantity of the watch. It was also the primary Rolex to be fitted with a sapphire crystal and with the seconds hand being controlled by a pallet wheel, this watch had the edge over its competitors. Additionally, the quick-set date was presented in this watch. In 1972, Rolex would leave the CEH to go on and make their own in-house quartz developments, later named the “Oysterquartz” watches.
The latest Reference 5100 to appear at auction was at Christie’s in New York, with a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-30,000 and hammering at $20,000. The watch was complete with box and papers.
The Patek Philippe Reference 3587
This is a rather unusual watch as there was a restricted run of a few hundred pieces. The primary reference 3578, was delivered in 1969 just after the release of the Beta-21. Later in 1973, the reference 3597 was created with a Beta 22 development. The reference 3587 (imagined here) was generally made in white and yellow gold with not very many in pink gold. There were three variations of the 3587, one was a case with hauls, the other two had no carries with an integrated bracelet. Like most watches with this development, the overall plan is BIG with the 43 mm pad structure case. The bracelets were all made in Germany specifically for Patek Philippe and came in three styles: one with woven connections, one with holed joins (envisioned), and one with larger Oyster joins.
This particular watch is actually available on the Christie’s Watch look for $22,000 .