My first watch ever was a Ruhla. I remember it well, because it was fast for 10 minutes a day. The strap was way to large. I broke the crystal twice. My point is: I remember every detail of it. That’s the sort of impression a ‘real watch’ can make on a six year old boy.
Fast forward to 2017. I’ve been collecting watches for roughly five years now. I’ve owned a few Omegas, LIP watches, and a lot of Enicars. With a lot, I mean at least 80, but probably over a hundred. In my current collection there are 25 – 30 Enicars, mostly Sherpas. Now, I can write a complete book about why I collect this underdog brand. Is it the timeless designs? Is it the amazing quality? Or could it be the combination of a gorgeously simplistic logo and a brandname that is essentially the name of the founder spelled backwards? All of the above, and than some. I will talk about my Enicar fever on this little online spot in the future for sure.
Every watch brand has its unicorns. We all witnessed the auction of the Paul Newman Rolex that took an astonishing 15 million USD. If you ask the much cozier Enicar community what model is highest in rank, you’ll probably hear Enicar Sherpa Graph, also known as the Jim Clark. This model (and the Sherpa Aqua Graph and Sherpa Jet Graph in its slipstream) has made an impressive jump in value over the last two years. I remember it being featured on Fratellowatches, in their insightful TBT (#Throwbackthursday) series. The writer of the article valued it at 2 – 2.5k Euros. Don’t you wish you bought it back than? I do. Anyway, I my opinion, there are two other unicorns in the range of Enicar watches: the Sherpa Super Graph and the piece of watchmaking magic I’m covering here. The one that I have nick named ‘Kaleidoscope’.
The official name of the Kaleidoscope is unknown. A somewhat rough black and white photo of this watch was published in a catalogue and there was a bit of info on this website. Both sources call it ‘Enicar Sherpa World Time’, which sounds adequate considering the six extra sets of hands that relate to six different timezones and 64 world cities. But there is no ‘Sherpa’ mentioned on the dial. Maybe because there’s simply no room for that? Who knows. It was officially presented at the 1967 Swiss Watch Fair as a ‘technical watch’. And there the info stops. Enicar is probably one of the worst documented brands in watch history. Since the bankruptcy in 1987 (or 1988, sources vary on that), the archives seemed to have vanished.
No one from the various watch forums had ever seen this watch in person. I first saw a picture of it in 2015, on the outstanding German Uhrforum. It was posted by Bernd, an Enicar enthusiast with a huge amount of knowledge about the brand. He’s also active on Instagram, so check him out. The common reaction on the forum was: this is probably just a mockup, made for the exhibition. But boy, just imagine this thing ever popping up. Wouldn’t that be something?
It was Bernd who approached me in September of this year with some highly hush hush photos. Apparently the watch was offered to him by a German seller with Greek roots. Bernd asked if I was interested. That’s like asking the late Lemmy Kilmister if he would fancy a Jack ‘n Coke. So after a very restless night, I was contacted by the Greek seller the next morning.
I received about ten very clear photos and a handful of videos of the watch in my e-mail box. Needless to say, I checked them thoroughly, which was a bit of a challenge having no reference. I know my Enicars. I know what’s wrong and what’s right. But this one was just undiscovered territory. The seller told me he acquired the watch from the first owner: a former executive at Enicar. Only ten were made, he told me. That sounded credible to me, as I never saw one before and neither had my network of Enicar detectives. After negotiating the price, we ended up with a deal that would hurt us both and make us happy the same time. He agreed to a lunch and closure in Cologne, Germany two weeks after our first contact.
When I drove to Cologne on Sunday, the weather was very wild. There had been a storm at night. The seller was coming by train. Now if you live in Holland, you know that storms and trains don’t go well together. My fear was that the seller wouldn’t show up and my chance of getting my hands on this masterpiece would be gone forever. But hey, these German trains don’t mind a bid of wind, so everything went according to plan. We met at the station and searched for a nice place to talk watches and do business.
I’ve promised the seller I would not share details about the original owner of the watch, nor the deal we made. Of course it was all legal. It was kind of a sad story too. For me, collecting watches is, for a large part, because of the stories they tell. I feel privileged having made this watch deal and learned the story of this unique piece.
In the next chapter of my report, I will get into the technical stuff. Not to deep, cause I’m a collector and not a watchmaker. Till next time watchfam.