Review: Silvana 15 Rubis 1940-1950s Manual Wind Cal. 1180


First and foremost, welcome everybody to the very first content release from SHIKAISEKI. I would like to thank everyone, especially our friends and family in advance for keeping up with our newly developed blog. Today diving straight into the abyss of the vintage wristwatch.

With the vintage watch scene’s spotlight being stolen over by a whole range of Rolex with their inflated price, Omega with the affordability and reliability, and a number of Universal Genève that are popular among the watch collectors, the one who stole the spotlight here at SHIKAISEKI is something unconventional and obscure, and I’m confident that the very least of people would know of this brand, and it is a Silvana.

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A little bit of introduction to this brand for those who don’t know or never came in contact with Silvana, it was founded in the year 1898, on Jura Mountains that connects the two nations, Switzerland and France. The company registered their trademark after two decades as Manufacture d’Horlogerie Silvana SA in Tramelan-Dessus, in the canton of Bern. The unpopularity of Silvana came about when the Quartz Revolution, or the Quartz Crisis as referred by almost every Swiss watchmakers/manufacturers that was introduced by the all mighty Seiko, had a huge hit on Silvana in 1970, putting Silvana into a deep sleep until recent years of 2012 – 2016 where it came back to life with the effort of a group of passionate watch manufacturer.

Today, we take a look back into time when Silvana was still well and popular in countries such as Canada, Malaysia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Soviet Republics in the year 1950 with this piece of pre-quartz crisis timepiece.

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I first came across this piece on the pre-owned market for an irresistible price tag of $50, and couldn’t resist but to get it into my collection with its aged silver dial, and gold applied Arabic numerals. While the numerals and the hands are slightly worn, it still kept its beauty as a vintage piece with its movement beating away smoothly.

It comes with a slightly beaten and worn gold ion-plated case, moderately deteriorated hour, minute and second hand, and the Arabic numerals too; while the dial was slightly deteriorated in shapes of patches. It plays along with the light refracting through the acrylic crystal that it carries on top of the dial, giving it a rather pleasing view when viewed under the sun with your naked eye. The condition of this piece would be considered as a well-worn piece, but the fact that the movement is still working really well (those loud-ticks are to die for), it became a complete package of a vintage piece for me.

In comparison to other vintage pieces that I own, or owned, this piece leans towards a larger size at 36mm across for the period of production, compared to my Felca Airmaster at 34mm, and a Citizen that I’ve owned prior to this at 32mm. Though it’s larger than the rest, it sits really well on my less than 6″ wrist with its lug-to-lug length of 46mm. I managed to pull it off with shirts as it’s really slender at just 9mm tall.

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The movement inside is an old friend to those who know, and that is Calibre 1180, which is the famous low-cost manual wind movement Venus 180. The Venus 180 was manufactured by Venus, a once famous manufacturer of watch movement that was absorbed into Valjoux (various modification of Calibre 72. used in the famous Rolex Daytona, Heuer, and Breitling), and now as we all know it by today, is part of the ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse. ETA is currently the most well-known Swiss watch movement manufacturer in the world, and they are also part of The Swatch Group AG.

This 15 Rubis version of Venus 180 keeps time at 18,000 vibrations per hour, and it has a standard 40 hours of power reserve, meaning at full wind of the mainspring, this old gentleman can go on for 40 hours. Though it is specified as 40 hours of power reserve on the specification sheet, I would normally hit around 30 hours at max. Given that there’s no service been conducted on it, as well as the fact that it keeps a great time of about ±45 to 60 seconds per day (with consistent winding every day) as a vintage piece, I would consider this as impressive performance.

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One thing that I would like to point out when I got this particular piece is that the “spring bars” are actually metal rod-like structures that are melted together in between those 18mm lug width, instead of actual spring bars. This comes with the positives and negatives, where the positive side of it is that you’ll never have to worry about spring bars failures. On the negative side of it, you’re only limited to 1 piece strap options such as NATO and Perlon straps. Although in the eye of everyone, the lack of actual spring bars is more of a negative, I’ve personally enjoyed having this on leather NATO and double stitched Perlon straps, and it still keeps itself very comfortable and by no means, offensive looking thanks to its slim profile.

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The crown is no fancy decorated crown but it does come with a good grip as a flat crown along with the slim profile of the watch case as the watch case doesn’t be in the way of anyone’s grip, huge fingers or small. I found no problem using the crown to wind each and every time, and it may not be the buttery smooth winding that you may find on any better conditioned vintage Rolex, Omega, or even Seiko, but it does the job very well for the price you pay for this obscure piece with its brand. As this is a vintage dress piece, it is by no means to be anyhow resistant to water. Meaning one would know that it shouldn’t come in contact with moisture in any occasion.

At first, I bought this watch as an impulse purchase off the pre-owned market thinking that it’s a helluva-good deal, and I would be worrying that it might not turn out to be the good of any deal that I thought of, given that purchasing vintage timepieces off pre-owned market does come with certain risk associated with it. After spending almost four and a half months with this old man, with a significant amount of wrist time given to it, I now confidently say that it’s definitely a good buy, although it is certainly not any horologically significant piece.

 

For more information about Silvana, visit online: https://www.silvana.com

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