Nope, the emergence of these marvelous mechanical mutterings came as the result an actual request made of me by a good friend of mine over at BDWF, JAS1125 (who's also a member here, but hasn't stopped in for a while). The request – a group photo of all my vintage watches – sounded simple enough on the face of it, but as anyone who’s ever tried to take pictures of more than a couple of watches at a time could tell you, there’s nothing simple about it. So, after a good couple of months trying to untie this Gordian Knot of a Photographic Challenge – that’s “difficult picture,” for those of you in Rio Lindo – I came upon the idea of showing off my oldies, one at a time, as part of a photo-essay style “featurette.” Hence, Mort’s Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month.
As if my regular reviews weren’t enough, eh…?
So let’s have a look at our Mort’s Monthly Moldy for September 2014, a beautiful Bulova Ambassador from circa 1960…
This was a very recent eBay find, and the first thing that caught my attention was the title of the auction:
“BEAUTIFUL OVERSIZED BULOVA AMBASSADOR 30 JEWEL MICRO-ROTOR AUTOMATIC DATE WATCH”
When I see terms like “oversized” and “micro-rotor” in the same title, I get intrigued pretty quickly, though I’m vintage watch-savvy enough to know that a mistake has almost certainly been made somewhere along the way. In the case of this beautiful Bulova Ambassador, the seller’s idea of “oversized” (35.5mm w/o crown) was quite a bit different from mine (>43mm), though this difference posed no difficulty at all in the final analysis. 35.5mm proved to be just fine from my standpoint.
And since we’re already discussing the watch’s size, here’s the seller’s complete list of technical info, to include applicable sizing:
Age: Early- to mid-1960s
Condition: Pre-Owned, working
Band: New after-market leather
Dial: Original signed, brush-textured silver
Case: Original, 10-kt gold-filled / gold-plated stainless steel
Crown: Original unsigned
Crystal: Original acrylic
Case Size: 35.5mm w/o crown, 37.5mm w/crown
Movement: Bulova 12EBAD 30-jewel Micro-Rotor Automatic, Swiss
Functions: Hours, minutes, date
Yep, and there it is above, the star of this month’s moldy monthly, the amazing (to me, anyhow) micro-rotor, power source for the incredible – and incredibly beautiful – 30-jewel 12EBAD movement behind the Bulova Ambassador. I’ve often opined that each WIS has his own little mechanical engineer living deep within, yet always ready to come out and admire the awesome machines that we strap to our wrists every day. And it’s watches of this type and complexity that really gets the little fellow’s circulation going. In taking a look at the above micro-rotor, for instance, it seems almost counter-intuitive that its smaller size and weight is capable of putting out a comparable amount of mechanical work and saved kinetic energy as its larger counterpart, yet it’s demonstrably so.
In a completely and totally unscientific test conducted by Yours Truly [The Dead Guy], I ‘charged’ the mainspring of a ‘conventional’ vintage movement (the Croton in the above photo) using regular arm motions over a 12-hour period. The resulting ‘power reserve’ lasted for approximately 11 hours and 37 minutes. I then repeated this procedure using the Ambassador, and the result was 12 hours and 4 minutes, or a delta of 27 minutes between the two watches. I repeated the same procedure two more times, and in both cases, the delta remained less than 30 minutes. My completely unscientific conclusion was that the ‘micro-rotor’ was doing just as much work (and thus storing roughly the same amount of kinetic energy) as the conventional rotor. Now, does this experiment really prove anything? No, not really, but I felt all “sciency” and shit while I was conducting my little study, and that feeling is priceless to an old Political Science (AKA Poly Sigh) major like me… Oh, and here’s some more pictures, by the by:
I’m not sure just what it is about vintage watches that makes me so crazy about them, but I do love the way they look and feel on the wrist. The vast majority of them are roughly the same size and weight (<100gm) as this Bulova Ambassador, yet each is a treasure unto itself in many different ways. As I’ve already admitted, the most fascinating thing about this watch (to me, anyhow)is its ‘micro-rotor.’ Recall for a second that the case itself is a mere 35.5mm in width, then take another gander at the photo of the movement:
The rotor is [very] roughly one-third of the case size, or right around 12.75mm. Even vintage collectors such as myself will readily admit that 35-36mm cases are pretty ‘tiny,’ even when compared with 38-40mm sized vintage pieces. In the end – and again, just speaking for myself – the idea that such a small weight, aptly referred to as a “micro-rotor,” could generate and store enough energy to power even a small watch has proven time and again to be a source of genuine fascination to this particular deceased individual.
And if the watch is that small…
…then it’s certainly another thing that every watch collector loves:
Comfortable! Which this little ditty truly is, and in spades. The movement is nice and quiet, and it chugs along nicely throughout the day. As can be seen, the watch is a real beauty, both inside and out, in that very subtle-yet-elegant way that vintage watches have of being beautiful. Does it get noticed? Do people offer to buy it off my wrist? No, not really. But I notice it, along with my friends who either know I'm a collector, or are themselves collectors, and that's more than enough for this particular irascible dead guy, which is why I chose it to be the first of what I hope will be many Monthly Moldy Mechanical Machines, this one for September of 2014.
Thanks so much for stopping by, and remember: if it looks older than Conjurer, then it’s almost certainly irreparably broken and not worth a shit...