To me, the most appealing aspect of vintage watches is their story. That’s not what everyone is drawn to – for some it’s the charming aesthetics, or perhaps a certain caliber that was only in production for a limited amount of time – but I’m interested in the history. That’s what makes an otherwise ordinary timepiece magical.
Sometimes a line of text on the dial of a watch can tell a part of that story, and that’s what makes double-signed watches so appealing. A double-signed watch usually bears the name of the retailer on the dial, and that sheds light on where the watch was sold and tells us about a larger relationship between a manufacturer and its retail network.
While I’m not sure what to think about the recent craze around the Tiffany-Blue Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711, I do find double-signed dials absolutely fascinating. Take something like this ref. 6542 GMT-Master for example from 1958. The “Serpico Y Laino” signature tells us it was likely sold in Caracas, Venezuela, from the Serpico Y Laino store. In 1950, Venezuela was the fourth-wealthiest nation per capita in the entire world, and interesting watches have an uncanny knack for appearing where wealth does, like this grail-worthy GMT-Master.
I once spent a day with the late sports car racer Alain De Cadenet. And at lunch, he took a Speedmaster off his wrist and handed it to me. He went on to tell me a crazy story about the watch, friendship, racing, and a lifelong bond. After he finished telling the story I remarked, “And it’s got a double-signed dial!” He took the watch back, put on his glasses, looked at it, and said, “well I suppose it does.” He bought it from Meister, a department store in Germany, and the Meister retailer signature appeared right below “professional” at 12 o’clock. The story of de Cadenet’s watch was incredible, and it turns out Revolution once covered it, but the fact that it wasn’t a “normal” Speedy and instead a Meister-signed version always stuck with me.
And it’s not only the retailer stamp that constitutes a “double-signed” watch. It can be much broader than that; the definition can include any watch with another logo appearing on the dial. A Collected Man explored the phenomenon of double-signed watches like the Rolex Khanjar-dialed models in this fantastic essay. You can also check out John Mayer’s Rolex Daytona 6265 with the Omani Khanjar Stamp in Talking Watches Part 2. For further reading on the topic, these five articles below will help you double down on double-signed watches.
Found: A Seiko 6306 From A 1979 Antarctic Research Expedition
Justin Couture knew this wasn’t an average Seiko. It had a story to tell, but he didn’t know where to start – maybe the extra line of text on the dial would offer a clue? He plugged it into Google and the rest is history.
Mystery Solved: Here’s Who Bought That Tiffany-Blue Patek 5711 At Phillips
In the days following the record-breaking sale of the Tiffany-Blue Patek 5711, the rumor mill was alive with wild theories about the identity of the buyer if it indeed had been sold at all. In this well-reported story, Logan Baker does some real muckraking and gets to the bottom of it.
Seiko’s New Collab With Rowing Blazers Is A Stroke Of Genius
It’s always a treat when our EVP of Content, Nick Marino, writes. This story explains why. Also, Seiko x Rowing Blazers? Too cool.
Four Pilot’s Watches From Phillips Double-Signed Auction
I remember handling each one of these watches when we photographed them for this very story and thinking to myself, “I could just collect double-signed pilots watches only and be very happy with the hobby.”
John Mayer On Watches: Why I Bought The Patek Philippe 5396G Limited Edition For Tiffany & Co.
John Mayer Talking Watches Episodes 1 and 2 are some of HODINKEE’s most popular work, and it’s no wonder why. But Mayer has written a number of articles for us that aren’t nearly as well known. This is one of them. Our man has some great insight on what makes double-signed watches so interesting.
This watch is different. It’s as if someone who spent millions of dollars with the company ordered a piece-unique and then had 99 others made. Actually, that’s exactly what it is.
Shop this story
The HODINKEE Shop carries a variety of double-signed watches in the pre-owned and vintage collections.