The Quest for Number 103

"19 days in Heck"

My tale of international intrigue begins on November 23, 2000, when one Michael Scharf innocently posts the following on the TZ Minerva forum:


    Advice needed on 140th Anniversary

    Posted By: Michael Scharf
    Date: 11/23/0 - 14:16:32

    Hello Minervans, I'm branching out from IWC and have the opportunity of acquiring a large-size 140th Anniversary watch. Should I go for it? Those of that have one, do you have any regrets? Please help me make my decision. Much appreciated, Michael


Now, I am most fortunate to have a Minerva as one of my first WIS purchases, and it so happens to be a Pythagore I with Anniversary dial, and it is amongst my favorite watches.  I had seen the pictures of the larger, Pythagore II version, but had never come across the watch Michael was asking about.  Having since decided to order, sight unseen (but presumably returnable), the TZ limited edition Minerva, I decided to find out what he was asking about.

Frankly, there was not much written on the watch, but I did come across pictures and a brief description on the Japanese Minerva site and thought it most intriguing, and certainly desirable as having a hand-finished, in-house pocket watch movement, yet in a wristwatch where it is more likely to be appreciated.  Somehow I did not come across Richard Paige's excellent introduction at this time.

Anyhow, now that I knew something about the piece, I responded to Michael:


      Don't buy it. Please forward name/address-->

      Posted By: SteveG
      Date: 11/23/0 - 19:47:41

      In Response To: Advice needed on 140th Anniversary (Michael Scharf)

      to me.

      This is a lovely and very difficult to find watch. I and many others would purchase in a heartbeat.


Certainly an honest expression of my feelings, if perhaps a bit presumptuous.  As it turns out, entirely unexpectedly I received an email message from this gentleman 4 days later:

      Steve, I decided not to purchase it (you can't buy everything!). Are you interested? The dealer is based in Europe but does export to the USA. Please let me know and I will give you details.  You were the first person to answer my e-mail - if you don't want it or if I don't hear from you in 48 hours, I'll move on to the next of the several people who expressed interest in case I didn't buy (following my e-mail) Best regards, Michael

Well, the rest of the story is pretty well told in the email exchanges between myself and Michael.  Please read if the quest interests you, or just check out the pics.  My sincere thanks to Michael Scharf for his help and interest and cooperation, and for permission to publish our correspondence, and especially for the opportunity to enjoy this unique watch!


Dear Michael,

Thank you for writing. I am indeed interested in purchasing this watch, subject to condition and price, of course. Thank you for thinking of me (I was really just offering tongue-in-cheek advice). I look forward to hearing the details.

Thanks again for your consideration.

Yours truly,

Steve Gurevitz


Dear Steve. you need to contact F------- B--- in Paris - he's one of the main European dealers. Doesn't appear to have an e-mail address (hey, this is Minerva!), the phone is 011 33 1 40-------. Fax is the same except for the last six digits, which are 3-----. I don't believe he will give much of a discount except that if you import it out of the European Union you will be exempt the whacking tax of about 20%. I would appreciate you keeping me posted in case you don't purchase, so I can tell the others. And if you do purchase, I expect at least a scan! By the way, please tell him that I gave you his name and that I have decided it's not for me. Good luck it's the last one, Michael (based in Brussels, Belgium).

PS he doesn't have any Heritage's left either


Thank you! I will fax him now (it should be about...midnight there, perfect). I will write you back after I hear from him.


Hello, Michael,

I was able to reach Monsieur B--- this morning (my time) by phone, and I faxed my letter to him. He was very pleasant, and spoke with me in person. I was quoted FF**,000. I have no idea how this price would relate to the original offering, but as there are none on the market,  I suppose it does not matter, and it seems fair enough to me for such a rare and beautiful piece. 
He is to fax me bank transfer information for remittance advice. Hopefully, all will go smoothly and I shall be the proud new owner. 

Thank you again for your consideration, and I will advise you further as there are developments.


Hi Steve, congratulations, you've got a bargain. Original price was **,000 French Francs, plus the current strong dollar vs the franc makes it even more favourable! Bl--- is the main European dealer and this was his last one. Please send me a scan so I can cry into a beer! :-) Michael


Dear Michael,

Today I received email from Mademoiselle D------ in Monsieur B---'s office that they have shipped my watch! I am most excited! They have been very pleasant and understanding about a transaction that is, I suspect, not particularly profitable for them, all considered. I had written them asking whether I should send additional remittance for packaging and shipping, and I am glad I did, as they indeed did wish to be reimbursed. As I am getting such good service and apparently a very fair price on the watch, I would hate to think they might feel mistreated in any way. 

By the way, their fax number is: 011 33 1 40------
and their email is: B---.Paris@w-------fr



Dear Michael,

I have just received information that my Anniversary Minerva is at the JFK International Airport, Jamaica, New York. Too bad I can't just pop over and retrieve it. I talked with the freight forwarder, and naturally Monsieur B--- was not able to supply in advance all the information required by customs (I have been through this part before--I wonder why anyone would expect the shipper to be intimately familiar with such questions from the every recipient's country), so I had the pleasure of telling them:

17 jewel movement
stainless steel case
analog watch
brand Minerva
leather strap
no battery (?!)

I am told to expect this treasure here in Ohio about Wednesday next week.

To be continued....

Have a pleasant week-end.

Best regards,



Getting closer all the time! I've been in St. Louis MO all week, but I flew
in through Chicago otherwise I might have stopped in NY for a peek! Michael


Dear Michael,

I see that it was one week ago today that I last wrote that the watch was at the freight forwarder's in Kennedy airport. At that time I had hoped to receive it by mid-week, but what happened is that the gentleman who is responsible for reconciling the price to customs was entirely mystified as to how to report the valuation. I have only been through this a couple of times before, but it is not too complicated---if you can get their attention. THAT turned out to take until Wednesday. I chalked this up to the holiday season, but the genuinely charming lady who had to field all of my calls for several days said it was because said gentleman was a "manager" (not for me, he wouldn't be).

Onward. I explained, per her listing, that the watch is stainless steel, with leather band, 17 jewels, mechanical movement, and of course, no battery. I estimated values at $0.50 per jewel, band $100.00, and case at $300.00; the total price was on the documents. She suggested I call the next day to follow up, which I did. It turns out that the manager couldn't quite fathom that the remaining value (perhaps $**00.00) must therefore be attributed to the movement (didn't even have a battery!), and wanted to hear it from my own, personal voice, and that of course he wouldn't be in until noon (being a MANAGER and all). Well, since he wasn't expected until noon anyhow, he just decided not to show up at all that day. I must give my phone contact credit; she says she has about 700 active folders at any given time, mine just being #47644, and yet she remained most pleasant throughout my many calls; I did try not to rant at her, since she was very nice, and the manager (who must be a very smart guy) remains nameless and phone-number-less to this very minute. Anyhow, by Thursday morning I finally got to speak with him (he seemed quite nice--must be his stress-free position), and explained that, unfathomable as it might seem, since the watch was made of a base metal, and that all its jewels were functional and factory-made, rather than fanciful and natural, and it didn't even have a metal bracelet (let alone a valuable battery), I did indeed think it appropriate to assign almost all the dollar value to the mysterious "movement", explaining that it was, while factory new, probably at least half-a-century old, and presumably irreplaceable. This seemed to satisfy him, and he would "send it on", perhaps I should call back late in the day to find out where to...

Which I did, reaching but not exceeding my helpful lady co-ordinator, who informed me (in all good faith, I am sure), that now I must wait for clearing by US Customs where it had (or perhaps just its paperwork) been sent. This is still Thursday. I should call back on Monday (have a nice weekend). Well, they ARE busy, it IS the holiday season, they DO have to clear all those Sony Playstations, etc. So I figure, at least I have a decent phone contact, I can be patient, I just don't want my watch run over by a truck or lost in their bins somewhere, being (presumably) a small package...

So I would not be writing right now, except that late Friday afternoon, it suddenly shows up at my desk, in a slightly crumpled, but generally intact, cardboard box, wrapped in lots of (uncut) French export tape! Well, as promised, I will let you see the rest from the pictures, but I must say that although I have a couple of dive watches and a modern chronograph or two, I had never even tried on a 43mm watch, certainly not one where the dial was 40 of those mm's, and just a thin bezel. It is MOST elegant, but still a monster in some fashion. I have small wrists, so it looked,,,unexpected, but it is just gorgeous (think of your typical Pythagore I, but without having to squint so hard to see how beautifully finished it is). My current business partner (a lady), thought it beautiful and fashionable (boy, am I relieved), and said I will get used to it (not sure I want to--but I love wearing it anyhow). You will see in the pictures how it compares on me with the Anniversary Dial Pythagore, and as measured, the area of the dial is almost exactly 80% larger, so no wonder it is so easy to read....

I am sending a few pictures in this mail, and please use the enclosed link to see them all; I hope you enjoy! Please excuse the amateur nature of the pictures. I am most unpracticed. Also excuse the large files. If you have any trouble retrieving them let me know and I will resend smaller pictures or a zip file or something. As soon as I get the time, I hope to publish the link to them, along with a story/review.

Thank you again, Michael for allowing me to purchase this magnificent watch, and for sharing the adventure!

Have a great weekend.


Steve, the watch is simply sensational. The dial is breathtaking, the
"Anniversary" dial on the Pythagore doesn't compare at all! And you should
get decades of accurate and reliable service from the robust pocket watch
movement. Even the strap breathes "Minerva". The whole thing has a kind of
"Amish" simplicity and warmth, which is so characteristic of Minerva but
which really stands out with this model (if you see what I mean!). Hang on
to it and if you ever pass through Brussels Belgium make sure you let me
know so that I can look at it in person. All the best and "see you" on the
forum, Michael



After cutting lots of French international shipping tape and sifting through a pile of shredded "Le Parisien", I finally dug out a standard blue Minerva box.                      


Inside was a blank warranty book (remember, it was sent by the distributor) and a black leather-covered cardboard box.


And inside that of course was the treasure itself, strap fastened around a soft leather pillow.  I have never seen a dial this big on a wristwatch, and it looks just HUGE despite its very thin bezel.

Here is the whole watch stretched out, hangtag looped through the buckle. To get a perspective on the size, please note that the strap is 20mm wide, rather than the 18mm more typical of a non-sport watch.

The inscriptions are fairly clear here (click for the larger pic!)

The bezel is very thin--something under 1.5mm

      I love the shape of these bridges.

From the side, the profile of the case and lugs is very smooth; the downward curve helps it fit the wrist.  Proportionally, the lugs are shorter than on the Pythagore I, but on this watch I think they need to be.
The crown measures almost 7mm in diameter-virtually identical with that of my Seiko Dive automatic.  Turning this monster feels like sharpening a pencil.

Did I mention that the 'tick' is at least a magnitude louder than any other watch I have--crisp and sharp and powerful.  My 6-year-old daughter was completely charmed.

Here are the 2 Anniversaries together.  At 40mm diameter, the area of the big guy's dial is almost 80% greater than the P.I's.  You can easily see the thin, rounded bezel here as opposed to the flat (and wider) bezel of the standard watch.  The lugs are only microscopically longer, just wider-set and beefier.                      


There isn't really any particular point to this picture; I just love the looks of these 2 movements.  However, once again you can see that the movement totally fills the enormous case--no padding here!


IANWO, but I think the detail and finish work is mighty fine (click to enlarge, just like all the rest).







Don't want to forget abut the buckle and strap!



I think it is fair to state that no comment is necessary.  I guess they would look a little undersized if I wore them on my arm.


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