These being examples of military materiel contracted back in the days before backhanders were the norm, the tender was put out to the watch industry and 12 companies fulfilled the requirements – hence the nifty moniker. It is rumoured, however, that a 13th maker, Enicar, was approved, but no watches appear to have been produced. Had that been the case, this would be the less-cool Baker’s Dozen.
Over the years, I’ve owned seven – the Vertex, Cyma, Büren, Record, Timor, Omega and IWC, and still have the last three. Five eluded me. According to the grapevine, approximately 20 collectors around the globe have full sets.
Appropriately, in the film’s 50th anniversary year, Vertex is being revived, and in July 2016, London-based auction house Watches of Knightsbridge offered examples of all of the Dirty Dozen in auction, including two each of the IWC, Longines and Büren models. Aside from the Grana – which all knew would fetch the most – there were some surprises, including a few that went unsold. (All prices on the following pages are taken from the Watches of Knightsbridge auction.)
A wonderful realisation is that bargains still exist for those wanting just one or even all of the Dirty Dozen, the auction prices for many being far below what dealers ask. Record, Timor, Vertex and Büren have yet to command silly money. And the Omega’s affordability? One of the nicest of the bunch, it was – along with the Record – produced in the greatest numbers, so scarcity is not a factor.
Too bad we couldn’t have featured this in the previous issue of Revolution… after all, it was number 12.