You might think collecting only for the wealthy with disposable income of several thousand dollars or more, but the truth is you can put together a solid collection without having to mortgage your house. The LeCoultre is a fascinating watch with a wonderful history and certain models cost less than $1,000.
Produced in the 1950’s, the Futurematic was ahead of its time. Instead of a crown at 3 o’clock, there’s a winding and setting disk on the back of the watch, giving it a sleek and modern profile. The standard model, with running seconds at 3 o’clock and Reserve de Marche (state-of-wind) at 9 o’clock, contains calibre 497. ‘LeCoultre Futurematic’ is written below 12 o’clock and ‘Swiss’ at 6 o’clock.
The “Porthole” model is the more rare of the two and therefore more desirable. You can tell the difference because of the “porthole” type windows taking the place of the round indications. When the power reserve aperture is white, the watch is fully wound; red indicates the watch doesn’t have any power.
In addition, LeCoultre placed the calibre 817 inside the “Porthole”, a bumper-type movement with a hack mechanism produced especially for this model. It’s said that it cost so much to make that the watch was sold at a loss. While modern rotors sit on top of the movement and circle 360 degrees, a bumper rotor only swings around 300 degrees, hits a stop and then reverses back to another stop, continuing the action with motion. To get the system started, shake the watch back and forth.
Mostly in 9-10K gold-filled cases with a 35.5mm diameter, either version of the Futurematic makes a nice and very affordable addition to any collection.
And, if you’re wondering, yes, Christie’s has auctioned the Futurematic!