If you ask me, the best part of collecting vintage watches is not actually finding the watches you were looking for, but discovering, along the way, other watches you never thought would end up in your collection and, when they do, you just know it was the right decision. This is exactly what happened to me recently.
While routinely searching online for some of the usual vintage suspects, I unexpectedly came to find this vintage Enicar Ocean Pearl, which immediately caught my eye. For those of you not familiar with the brand Enicar and its rich history, you can find it summarized here. For the ones who already knew Enicar, you are most likely aware that finding a well-preserved, nice-looking and affordably-priced Enicar piece can be an adventure in itself these days.
Nice aesthetics, accurate time-keeping performance and good construction quality, paired with moderate prices for a Swiss-made watch, were the key factors that made Enicar pieces well regarded by watch buyers decades ago. They also established the basis for the fascination which lots of vintage watch enthusiasts still feel today for this disappeared brand (yes, I know that the Enicar brand still exists, but there is no real continuity between the current and the former brand).
While the Ocean Pearl is certainly not a scarce model, nor one of the most difficult Enicars to find online, this reference 140-39-05 from the 1960’s can be considered rare by all means. As a vintage enthusiast, I was familiar with the Sherpa and some other iconic Enicar models; however, this particular reference of the Ocean Pearl had a couple of details that made it rare, and therefore collectible, for me.
Overall construction and aesthetics
The stainless steel case feels robust and well-built and the slightly bent over thin lugs contribute to the overall wear comfort. Both the bezel, the case sides and the lugs are mirror-polished and have arrived surprisingly well preserved to our days, considering the age of this watch and the busy life it most likely had to cope with.
While the case and its overall look are visually pleasing, the main highlight of this watch is for sure its dial. The Enicar logo, which keeps surprising me because of its unusual – at least for the watch world – space-related thematic, is presented applied on the dial in a two-tone combination. The dial shows an appealing champagne colour with a sunray finishing starting in the center and blurring progressively towards the outer sides of the dial. A relatively big date window at 3:00 is the only complication and shows broad high-contrast red numbers on a white background. The hour markers are faceted and applied on the dial, and the hours legibility can be considered as very good. The hands are straight and rectangular and appear lume-filled (although the tritium luminosity has long vanished) with the sweeping seconds hand being centrally placed. The case measurements are typically vintage with 35 x 42,5mm in diameter and 9,5mm thickness which still provide enough presence for any medium-sized wrist.
A special mention is deserved by the Arabic numerals shape at 6:00, 9:00 and 12:00, which make this model rare among other Ocean Pearl references. These white numbers tightly placed on a tiny black squares are extremely pointy and straight shaped, adding a casual touch to a dial that otherwise could have well passed as “dressy”.
The case shape is almost NOS and its lines and edges still appear sharp and well defined, confirming that it was never polished before. The screwed-in case back looks busy with the usual high-relief Enicar logo and a shark out of the water surrounded by engraved inscriptions such as the ubiquitous “stainless steel”, “Incabloc”, “waterproof”, etc. Finally, the case is topped by a high domed plexy glass, as it was common in most timepieces from this period.
Movement and time-keeping performance
Powering this watch there is the Enicar caliber AR 1141, a good performing manually-wound date-only caliber ticking at 18.000 v/h with 17 jewels, Incabloc, and around 2 days of power reserve. I know, some of you may be unimpressed with the technical details of this caliber and I can only agree with you, at least partially. It is indeed nothing fancy, but it is its simplicity and reliability, tried and tested through several iterations, which make the heart of this watch a true workhorse able to keep ticking for many decades to come.
I must admit I haven’t tested it in depth but after having worn the watch several days in a row I have confirmed that the watch keeps more than decent time with only a minor deviation of around +8/+12 per day, really impressive for a vintage piece whose maintenance service record remains unknown.
This Enicar Ocean Pearl is only one more evidence of the interesting pieces from already disappeared or long-forgotten brands that remain hidden in the oblivion of the internet waiting to be discovered.
This piece ticks all the boxes in order to become a robust daily wearer either along with casual attire or a more formal dressing. That all depends, as it often is the case, on the strap paired with it. In my particular case, as I own plenty of other vintage dress watches, my choice oscillated towards a leather strap with an alligator pattern (the one in the pictures), which can still be worn more formally if necessary, but in my opinion can be best matched with a shirt and jeans.
And the best part is that such a watch can be obtained for much less than what most people think, even in the current inflationary vintage market. We are speaking about a price ranging between 100-150€ (depending on cosmetic condition) for which the buyer will not only get a nice-looking vintage watch in good working condition, but a part of the past of this great brand that nowadays only connoisseurs and vintage collector seem to remember and appreciate.