The late 60’s to early 70’s could be considered a watershed moment in the watch world. The availability of great, affordable movements like the Valjoux 7730 and 7733 kicked off a huge increase in the number of upstart watch brands competing to combine unique craftsmanship with reliable, mass-produced movements. With this new ubiquity in movements and case size, brands of this era attempted to stand out from the pack by turning to bold dials and funky hands with striking arrays of color. It’s out of this set of circumstances that we get a quintessential watch of the period with this OPECO INCABLOC chronograph.
Unfortunately, the legacy of this period in watch making was overshadowed by the advent of the quartz movement and the crisis that it caused in the watch world. Quartz made watches cheaper, easier to produce, and more accurate which in turn caused a value crisis from buyers. By 1978 quartz watches had mostly taken over the market and the Valjoux 7733 movement which powers this watch went out of production and with it went most of the small watch producers that relied on it.
One of the small scale producers of this period, OPECO is one of the more unique brands and also one of the more obscure. There is little in our collective memory that survives about the OPECO brand but here is what we could find.
Opera Diamond Jewelers Co. was a jewelry and watch store that operated in Montreal from 1952 until 1975. At some point in the ‘60s, Opera Diamond Jewelers decided to launch their own privately branded line of watches. They ultimately created two brands, Opera Watches and OPECO. Both Opera and OPECO utilized off the shelf, high-end watch movements but Opera watches tended to be more classically styled and dressy whereas OPECO aimed its sights on a younger audience and were designed to appeal to their more colorful tastes. If you have any more information on the Opera or OPECO brand please share in the comments below!
The OPECO chronograph for sale today is a two register, two pusher chronograph produced sometime between 1969 and 1975. The cased is structured in steel and features an unsigned crown. The watch measures 36mm x 42mm and 13mm thick. The crystal is made of acrylic and has recently been replaced. The case has minor scratches throughout and there are multiple, major scratches apparent on the caseback. Additionally, the pushers show signs of wear with the plating having been worn down.
The Dial and Hands
The dial is where the OPECO comes alive. It is finished in a deep blue color with a distinctive white block through the center of the dial that frames the sub-dials located at the 3 and 9 positions. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock features a small seconds hand in yellow while the sub-dial at the 3 o’clock features a 30 minute chronograph with white hand. The dial also features a central hour and minute hand, both white, that are squared in shape and a central 60 seconds chronograph hand in orange. The edge of the dial features white indices with lume plots surrounded by graduated measurements. (Editor’s note: the lume plot at the 8 position appears to have been dislodged). OPECO and 17 Jewels are painted on the top of the dial and Incabloc and T Swiss Made T are painted on the bottom of the dial.
The case houses a hand wind Valjoux 7733 movement and is currently running and keeping good time with all chronograph functions working as well. The caseback is a six notch screw in design which is stamped with “water protected”, “incabloc,” and the numbers 14001. There appears to be another engraving but it has worn down and cannot be made out. The inside of the caseback has a numeric inscription in black ink.
The watch is sold on a non-original leather strap with non-original buckle.
|Movement||Manual Wind Valjoux 7733|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|