Tuesday, October 6, 2015

MEET THE WATCH SERIES: Victorinox Swiss Army 2006 Legacy Réserve de Marche Platine Ultra Watch


The MEET THE WATCH Series showcases a timepiece in more detail than just a casual glance. I often find out more about my own watches writing these articles than I like to admit. So sit back and keep reading... we might learn something together. This article has photos sourced from various places. Please see photo credits.

Every now and then a brand does something unexpected by reaching outside of their comfort zone to create a product that is unlike anything that they made before or since. That is the enigma that the Legacy Reserve de Marche Platine by Victorinox Swiss Army was in 2006 and still continues to be today. In English that would be Legacy Power Reserve in platinum.

To my knowledge, it is the rarest Swiss Army watch ever made, but not just in terms of limited numbers of just 60 produced. Instead, I am talking about rarity in terms of price, exclusivity and precious materials.

Photo: Victorinox Swiss Army

The material of course is platinum, which is roughly 270% denser than steel and 160% denser than gold. That means 2 similarly sized watch cases rendered in those different metals will weigh different amounts and certainly have varying costs associated with the precious metal content. Platinum costs about $920 per ounce today.

An ounce is not that much. According to Ask.com..."Items or collections of items which weigh 1 ounce include: 1 slice of bread, 28 paper clips, five U.S. quarters, and a compact disc (CD)."

The use of platinum for that case was probably the leading factor in its stratospheric price tag of $19,500 back in 2006 when platinum cost an average $1031.00 per ounce.  But, the platinum costs alone do not tell the whole story, and honestly neither is Swiss Army. There is minuscule amounts of information about this watch on the Internet... and any references to the model all say the same thing. Presumably, this would be what I call "ad copy" written by the company when it was on sale.

Photo: Victorinox Swiss Army. A closeup of the Valgranges A07.161 movement with 46 hour power reserve

Here is a synopsis of the info that I could find.
  • The 43mm case is made of platinum, but assumably the rest is not
  • The lugs, bezel and crown guards are black rubber to protect your investment I guess
  • It comes with a black rubber strap and a brown leather strap probably with deployment clasp, but I cannot confirm that from the photos
  • It has a higher than standard degree of decoration on the Valgranges A07 movement
  • It has a 46 hour power reserve indicator 
  • It has an anti-reflective triple coated sapphire crystal and case back
  • It comes in a display box with band change tools and a magnifying loupe

Photo: Victorinox Swiss Army. The watch came with 2 straps.
The reason I am writing this blog in the first place is because this watch recently became available on eBay at a heavily discounted rate when compared to what it initially cost the original owners who are now parting with it. It has a Starting Bid of $5,200 and a Buy It Now price of $7,000. The seller says that they will entertain all reasonable offers. Buy the Victorinox Swiss Army Legacy Reserve de Marche Plantine on eBay.

Legacy Reserve de Marche Platine listing on eBay
They have owned it since 2006 when they bought it at Neiman Marcus. I did not ask them the price that they paid, nor did they offer it. Let's assume it was the manufacturer's asking price. Only the rubber band survives at this point. From the photo below, it looks like even the straps were limited in number. This one reads 22/125. I am guessing a replacement from the company will be impossible.

Photo: Ebay Seller. The rubber watch strap is numbered 22/125 and does not match the case .
Honestly, I have more questions than answers about this watch, and I have not found much to confirm or deny any of my suspicions. First of all how much platinum is actually in the watch? Is just the case platinum? Are parts of the movement platinum? What about the watch buckles? Are those platinum as well? Many high-end gold or platinum watches use the metal throughout the watch including the movement and buckle, which is how companies can charge obscenely high prices for timepieces.

Photo: EBay seller. The display box has all the goodies.
The other thing that I wonder about is the term" Legacy". Was this a collection of watches that Swiss Army planned to make but only made this one to judge consumer reaction? Were people ready and willing to pay the cost of a decent car for a watch brand that does not have a 100 year or more watch making history? Was it the whim of an executive? A drunken bet? Who knows?

Price becomes a big factor when one considers the vast field of luxury watches with more prestigious names like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier, Brietling, Omega and a whole bunch more. Below is a Google search of platinum men's watches and the prices they are commanding.

I personally don't care much about precious metals. Sure, I would not turn it down, but I am perfectly happy with steel watches. So, beyond the use of precious metal, does the design of this watch inspire a lusty response in me? Sadly, I must say not as much as I had hoped.... but this may be like me claiming sour grapes because I know I could never afford it.

Photo: Ebay Seller. The inner dial is a little busy for me.
I am not the biggest fan of skeletonized dials with exposed screws. There are very artful exceptions, but generally they look a bit unfinished to me. The other feature that puzzles me is the use of black rubber on the bezel, crown guards and lugs. While this affords protection to the watch, it hides the platinum and possibly cheapens the look. It may also be a cost saving measure to reduce the amount of platinum needed for the case. It is a mix of one of the most costly substances with one of the most mundane.

To me it misses the mark of a top-of-the-line luxury timepiece. It looks like a nice sport watch and not the best that a company can design. It pains me to say that because I am just about the biggest Swiss Army fanboy around... but I can't fib about it. I have many gorgeous watches from the company that  have inspired the feeling of "I got to have it!" just from their looks. This watch cerebrally inspires the collector in me that seeks out the ultra rare.

Photo: EBay Seller. I'm starting to warm up to it. Darn, I want it.
The eBay sale is a relative bargain at about 25% of the original MSRP. When you look at it that way (and you have a fat bank roll and a passion for the unique), I say why not go for it? Come to think of it... that is probably the same thing Swiss Army said when they decided to make this. I applaud them for doing so. 

3 comments:

Adam Sickles said...

Thank you for writing an honest review. I too am a collector of victorinox watches,and have been lustily ogling this very watch on ebay. I purchased an ambassador xl chronograph limited edition 18k from this same seller on ebay a few weeks ago and have been very pleased with the quality and beauty of the piece. As for this piece,I feel torn as to whether I can reconcile the price vs value...
Your musings have mirrored my own, particularly; how much platinum comprises the case? (The rubber only complicates attempts to estimate )
Surely we would be pleased with the watch if only to endure ridicule from the less passionate populace.
Let me know if you make it yours!

Adam Sickles said...

Thank you for writing an honest review. I too am a collector of victorinox watches,and have been lustily ogling this very watch on ebay. I purchased an ambassador xl chronograph limited edition 18k from this same seller on ebay a few weeks ago and have been very pleased with the quality and beauty of the piece. As for this piece,I feel torn as to whether I can reconcile the price vs value...
Your musings have mirrored my own, particularly; how much platinum comprises the case? (The rubber only complicates attempts to estimate )
Surely we would be pleased with the watch if only to endure ridicule from the less passionate populace.
Let me know if you make it yours!

Adam Sickles said...

According my source at victorinox, 74.1 grams of platinum went into the construction of this eminent timepiece.