Starting life in 1924, Wyler was a bit late to the party but revolutionized the way Swiss brands created watches and ran their businesses. Paul Wyler created the brand in Basel after a career as a traditional, more technical watchmaker. He saw a need to create a wristwatch more resistant against shock than what was being offered, so much so he built the entire Wyler brand around it. In 1927 Wyler introduced Incaflex, a proprietary and industry-shaping protection system against drops, shocks, or any sudden movements. Two curved arms on either side of the balance joined at the staff, in effect suspending the balance staff by these flexible arms. This system was just the start of Wyler doing things just a bit different than its peers. The brand was also one of the first to specifically create watches for and market directly to the Italian market, one that was and continues to be hungry for something special. Paul Wyler partnered with Innocente Binda, a businessman from Milan, to create Wyler-Vetta in 1930. Wyler was to design targeted wristwatches and Binda was to market them, solely in Italy. Wyler-Vetta resonated quickly with Italians, especially after Binda signed a deal to outfit the Italian National Team in the 1934 World Cup. A kind of partnership, or (as Rolex would call it today) ambassadorship, that was far ahead of its time and proven to be massively successful.
Wyler-Vetta chronographs from the 1930s and 40s are extremely coveted by collectors today, especially those in waterproof cases. The more broadly marketed Vetta branded catalog focused on time-only watches during that time span, only moving to chronographs in the 1960s and 1970s where most collecting interest is drawn to today. Incaflex and genius marketing led the brand during those early years, there was little need to expand into chronographs. According to period ads, at some point before 1950, two Wylers were dropped from a cruising airplane and were still ticking when they hit the ground. Paul Wyer himself dropped a Wyler Incaflex from the top of the Eiffel Tower in 1956 and, in 1962, he repeated his outfit at the Seattle Space Needle. These marketing stunts were some of the first the watch world had seen, bucking the trend of “swiss quality is just better.”
The Wyler Starfire II 660, commonly referred to as the “Lifeguard” was a premier watch in the Wyler collection. It was designed as a tough and robust dive watch. Wyler may have described the watch best in their 1971 print advertisement for the watch. They said “Starfire II was created for the rugged man who deserves a rugged watch. This unique watch, with its boldly notched stainless steel case and bracelet, is a Wyler exclusive. The shrink-proof crystal case is tested and guaranteed to a depth of 660 feet. And has our famous Incaflex balance wheel for protection against shock for the life of the watch”.
This example was previously featured on Dial + Bezel as Lot 192 and was sold in December 2020 to the current seller who is now offering the piece for sale.
Case condition on this piece is good. It shows obvious signs of wear and several deeper scratches most notably on the bezel that can be seen in the photos. The watch wears the correct signed crown and caseback and both are thought to be original to the watch. The crystal, as with many of these watches, has began to deteriorate and has developed what look like stress fractures across the crystal. It measures 38mm across and 40mm hooded lug to hooded lug and 1mm thick.
The Dial and Hands
There were several dial variations produced for this case. The orange and silver variation is our favorite and Wyler’s favorite as well as it is what they choose for the watches advertisements. Condition of the dial and hands are excellent and correct for the reference. There are no defects to note.
This watch is powered by an automatic Wyler cal. 240 movement. This movement is based on the ETA 2788 movement which Wyler modified with new jewels and its incaflex bridge. The watch is running and the service history is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Model||Starfire II “Lifeguard”|
|Movement||Automatic Wyler cal. 240|
|Dial||Silver and Orange|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Rubber Strap|