This week on Great ‘Grams we get up close and personal with the number of the beast, a custom Eastern Arabic dial from an independent watchmaker, and a very rare Rolex thought to be sold by a retailer off the coast of Miami. The Bahamas-based retailer in question is John Bull, established in 1929 and a current-day Authorised Dealer of Rolex, who once sold some rather unusual sports watches. There is little information out there on these watches, but it seems that John Bull would modify the cases of a handful of Rolex watches with a bark finish and engrave the caseback with the name of the boutique and sometimes an edition number. While it seems unbelievable that a retailer would be allowed to modify a Rolex prior to sale, a comparison could be drawn to some early examples of Rolex watches that featured both the Rolex and Tiffany & Co. signatures, which were sold by the New York retailer and had the Tiffany & Co. stamp applied at the boutique. Examples of John Bull Rolex sports watches that have come up for auction include Daytonas, Submariners, and GMT-Masters, but in small numbers as a result of their rarity. It’s a narrow part of the vintage Rolex world, but a fascinating one nonetheless, and exciting to see one in the feed this week.
The official photographer of RedBar knows his way around a macro lens. Just take a look at that marshmallow lume.
John Bull GMT
Mr. A has been featured on Great ‘Grams before, but there’s a reason for that. He has a great Instagram. This shot was the cause of the closer look into the retailer John Bull, showing in great detail the engraving of the case and bracelet, even covering the crown guards. What a remarkable watch.
More practice in the hopes that one day I’ll be able to highlight those beautiful numerals without a stupid reflection 🙄
When it comes to a study in dial proportions, vintage triple calendars are a great place to start. Take this cracking shot of a Girard-Perregaux triple calendar, with blued hands and wonderful Breguet numerals. The 34mm steel case frames a dial that offers quite a lot of information, yet is easy to read, thanks to the articulate and well laid-out format.
In praise of daily wearers! Way too busy today to sneak any time for some self-indulgent shooting in the light tent — but who cares when you can run out the back door for a minute and grab your @jaegerlecoultre #reverso1931 in the NorCal afternoon light?
I’m also well aware that this one is a favorite of several watch pals including @whatsonherwrist and it’s always lovely to be reminded of friends each time you peek at your wrist…
While Gary has definitely got an impressive collection of watches, he also has the skill behind a lens to capture them beautifully, and is undoubtedly a tastemaker with the watches he choses to strap to his wrist.
Laine Gelidus2 with custom dial
An independent brand that might be off the radar of a few in the watch world, Torsti Laine is a Finnish watchmaker with self-evident talents in engraving and dial making. As a result of the amount of handwork that goes into each of his watches, they are produced in very limited quantities, but are able to be customised to a degree according to the desires of the client. Here we have an example of his Gelidus 2 watch, customised with Eastern Arabic numerals.