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Thread: Smiths / Astral chronographs

  1. #1
    Moderator Revo's Avatar
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    Default Smiths / Astral chronographs

    I accidentally bought an Astral chronograph on the PX. Not a good idea as I'm supposed to be selling rather than buying. I did wonder if I'd end up flipping it, maybe even at a loss.

    Well, it arrived today and I really like it.

    Iíve usually got a ≈34mm Smiths, sometimes a W10 at 36mm on my wrist so the sheer depth and weight of this was a very nice surprise. My first chronograph!

    Powered by the popular and well-regarded Valjoux 7733. The condition is close to mint, it looks like it's hardly been worn.

    My "reasoning" (ha! "justification"? entirely spurious anyway) was that it dates from c. 1971 and so it is a birth year watch for me.

    Smiths made their last movements in 1970. Astral watches with cal. 60466E movements (same as the W10) sometimes show up with 1971 hallmarks but Iím not really a fan of chunky 1970s gold cases and sunburst dials (!!) so this is perfect.

    Looking into these I can find three distinct models: one marked Smiths and two marked Astral (one with black sub second hands, one with red.) My guess is the Smiths branded is the earliest and precedes the Astrals (as I think is also the case with the late '60s divers). After that I think the black hand iteration is the earlier and the red register version is the latest. But that's just a guess.

    Here's some pics:

    "Smiths" source: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VINTAGE-Sm...p2047675.l2557





    1971 Smiths Catalogue; "Astral" black hand



    Same model, the one I bought here from springmount: http://www.mwrforum.net/forums/showt...O-VALJOUX-7733



    "Astral" red register, as per the recent thread here: http://www.mwrforum.net/forums/showt...auction-images




    [/center]
    "Early this year I saw ex-army watches exhibited in a showcase at a little under £4 each. A week or two later I succeeded in buying one of them for £5. Recently their price seems to have risen to £8." (George Orwell, "As I Please", Tribune, 29th November 1946)

  2. #2
    Super Moderator dave's Avatar
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    Default

    that's rather nice, but you are now gonna get into trouble!

    hmmm.......




    image credit: Chris Parker.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator dave's Avatar
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    Default auction images


    Vintage Craftsman Chronograph 1970













  4. #4

    Default

    Well done Oliver,

    Yours with the black/white dial is late 1960s - there was an earlier mid/late-1960s Landeron based version too (and one pre-war). When Smiths decided to abandon watch manufacture they kept the 'Smiths' brand for run of the mill, common or garden 0- to low-jewel watches assembled at Ystradgynlais (and those fully imported) models and 'Astral' (no longer Smiths Astral) for higher-grade fully jewelled models.... that was theory, though few 1970s 'Astrals' matched the Cheltenham models. Beware of the mid-1970s chronos with the Agon or Bettlach sliding leaf stop-motion rubbish!

    None of these Landeron or Valjoux based chronos were cased-up by Smiths; they were imported ready badged (though TNG may have strapped them). Likewise those many others chronos badged for Ingersoll, Breitling, Craftsman (Sears Roebuk USA)... etc

    They are a decent, reliable all-Swiss watch - not a Smiths! - but the quality of the chromed case varies greatly; some lucky few were s/s. The dial, colour and functionality (from a Work Study/Production engineer's viewpoint) was marred by the contemporary 1970s bling/style! Nothing beats a W^D wrist-chrono Lemania etc) for legibility.

    Barry

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