Often people ask me, what are the differences between a first execution Sherpa Graph, famously used by Stirling Moss and Jim Clark’s racing team, to the later ones and what you have to look at? Since Bukowskis is selling one of these rare gems on April 20th, 2021 (link here) and we see them more often in the last year than ever before, I decided to write a small tutorial. Until now (07.04.2021) 23 of the 500 produced MK1a‘s are known with a serial and around five more without.
I took two of my Sherpa Graph MK 1a’s and compared them with their direct successor, a Sherpa Graph MK1b (watch at the right with red second hand).
So lets start with the obvious facts, the dial and hands. As mentioned in the MK1a Guide, the first execution was available in two dial colors: Black and grey. Whereas the grey one is very unique, the black dial with white subs (reverse panda) could be mixed up with one of the dials of a later execution. The ratio of the dials looks to be about 30:70. That means that of 500 Mk1a’s, 350 have a black and 150 have a grey dial. Lets have a look in detail.
As you can see on the comparison picture, the subdials are the main difference. On a Mk1a they have a rippled structure, whereas the MK1b looks flat on the reverse panda dials. The ripples are there, but just way smaller than on the MK1a and just visible under the magnifier. Also the subs on the earlier watches are bigger. Thats hard to spot in real life, but easy when you move the slider.
One more thing are the small bulges of the subs to the edge of the dial. We still see them on the MK1b, but not that big. Interesting is the fact, that the earliest of the MK1a’s dont have this prominent detail. This will be a topic for further investigations.
Enicar Sherpa Graph MK1a
Enicar Sherpa Graph MK1b
Let’s come to the hands. The Mk1a came with two options. The well known paddle hands, we still see until 1966 (in a bit different shape though) or with the destinctive Gladius hands, shaped like a Roman sword. These you will only see on the earliest Sherpa Graph execution. Since the hands can be found on ebay, be sure to check all the other details to get sure what you see or have. The hands can be found on the grey and the black dial variation. The latest observations shows that there is also a ratio of around 50:50 of paddle to Gladius hands.
The subdial hands are unique to the MK1a and allways the same. All three subcounter hands are also formed like little Swords and unfortunately impossible to find, if you need one.
The next thing you can easy spot from the front of the watch is the inner tachy scale. This has to be a “Tachymetre Base 1000” one on the MK1a. I have seen some lonely watches in later executions with this bezel, but the numbers are so small, that I believe those are either left overs or franken watches.
Lets have a look at the crown. When most people first see an MK1a Sherpa Graph, they think the crown was changed, cause it is missing the Saturn on it. Since we are speaking of 1960 as year of production, this really is a bit strange cause all the other Sherpa watches, like the Divers had waffle crowns with a logo on it. My only explanation is that the manufacturer of these wasnt ready to supply this crowns with a tap 12 configuration (that means a 1.2mm stem, that you need for a hand wound Valjoux 72) until the Sherpa Graph MK 1b.
Also interesting is a minor detail around the crown. On the steel bezel that is attached to the case there is a small notch. On the Sherpa Graph MK1a this notch is around half the size as on the later executions.
The caseback is also unique to this reference. All 500 MK1a‘s have 5/60 as production date visible stamped on the inside. From the outside the only distinguished detail is the serial that needs to start with 272, followed by three more numbers.
A fact I just discovered is a small stamp left to the balance wheel. There you can find a small „4“ (see red circle). It’s looks this wasn’t used during the whole production cycle, cause my very late MK1a (serial 272.99x) doesn’t have this stamp anymore.
In contrary to later executions the movement isn’t marked with „AR“, a typical sign for Enicar movements but of course has the nice copper color the brand used on most of them.
I hope this guide helps you a bit in the jungle of possibilities. If you have such an early watch, please be so kind and contact me so I can add it to my non-public serial list.