Squeaky Clean or Vintage Worn… The Choice is Yours
There is a story that Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, on receipt of a brand new Fender guitar, said he would only play it if it was ‘beat up’. It looked just too squeaky clean. So Fender sent one of their master craftsmen to ‘distress’ Keith’s guitar, giving it a vintage or ‘heirloom’ look, making it appear like a guitar that had already given many years of faithful service.
With the surge of interest in vintage watches, in fact all things vintage, we at Page and Cooper wondered if it would be possible to recreate the look and feel of a vintage watch but, with an impressive modern performance.
They say great minds think alike and so we were delighted when our good friends at Laco proudly showed us their new Erbstück heirloom concept at this year’s Baselworld watch exhibition. Laco have been manufacturing quality watches since 1925 and are famous for their pilot’s watches. Indeed, in our workshops we have had the pleasure of restoring original pieces from British customers, always in close collaboration with the company who are based in Pforzheim, Germany.
The word Erbstück translates as heirloom and these watches are specifically designed to reproduce a lifetime of use. The idea for the range was formulated after realising so many owners serviced and restored their elderly watches and still wear them with great pride.
Laco already had the services of a metallurgical engineer who was working at one of their partner companies. He himself was already ageing watches, using the tools and techniques accumulated through many years of specialist knowledge in the industry. Prototypes were made and actual 70 year old watches used as a benchmark for comparison and quality.
Every single watch from the resultant Erbstück range is aged by hand. Piece by piece. The case, dial, hands, even the strap. Each watch is unique. Individual.
A thorough knowledge of the original watches and how they were made is essential. For example, take the dial. The original watches used radium paint (of course no longer used in watch production). The brighter dial numbers 5, 15, 25 etc. were painted differently from the rest and aged differently from the non-radioactive areas. One can see this most clearly on the B-style dials of the watch.
And it’s the same with the hands. The discolouration comes from the radium paint which was in the thickening agent and the clear lacquer where the pigment was bound. The radiation changed the surface structure and the chemical composition. The colour of the area around the numerals on the dial is discoloured by radiation activity too. The effect is as if wind and weather distressed the dial. Even typical marks and scratches from years of use are reproduced. Marks perhaps from years of use, climbing in and out of cockpits, opening and servicing the watch, wearing the watch, even flying in heavy weather in a small, confined cockpit.
Here, of course, we must emphasise that the new/old Erbstück Laco watches are without radium or radiation of any kind. One can immediately see advantages of owning one of these recreations over an original!
So, you end up with a watch that appears to have had a long and eventful life but actually functions like the brand new watch that it is. Just like a favourite pair of jeans, comfortable well-worn shoes, a vintage fountain pen, these are watches that will be a real pleasure to wear and, talk about. An interesting addition to any watch collection.
Please note: Each watch in the Laco Erbstück collection is made to order and takes time! Just give us a call here at Page and Cooper and we can have that perfect vintage watch made just for you.
Laco. Classic, individual, durable, high quality and, watchmaking passion. At Page and Cooper we are proud of our relationship with this fabulous company.
You can watch our detailed review of the Laco Erbstück collection below: