Look at any iconic watchmaker, be it Rolex, Omega, Audemars, or Jaeger, and you’ll notice that their collection is mostly made up of classic designs that have been around since their creator’s humble beginnings. There isn’t much along the lines of new models, but rather continuous improvements on the core pieces that keep the tradition alive.
Of course, not all vintage watches are equal. Some are certainly more… timeless than others. And if budget is a concern, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of accessible options.
While the lower end of the pricing spectrum may be less expensive, it is expansive, and knowing what to choose can take more time than any discerning collector has to part with. That’s no less true on the higher end.
Spare yourself the labour by taking a look at the following timeless timepieces that are perfect for vintage fans.
When it was first put together in 1953, this Blancpain classic was capable of reaching depths that few people, let alone watches, had ever been. That exact number was 1000 feet, which is even more impressive when you consider its clean, understated design.
The Fifty Fathoms doesn’t scream ‘I’m a diving watch,’ making it more versatile than most. It also tells you the date and does so comfortably thanks to its nylon strap. Now, almost seven decades into production, this Swiss timepiece maintains its quality build and timeless appeal. Expect to pay around £10k to get one around your wrist.
If you’re looking for something with history, look no further than the same watch that was strapped around the spacesuits of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong as they stepped onto the moon’s surface for the first time. That explains the second part of the Speedmaster’s name, but its true heritage lies on the racetracks of the 1950s.
The beautifully-arranged face is surrounded by a tachymeter, which forms the bezel of a chronograph that’s robust enough to keep ticking through tarmac, transfer orbit, and time itself. In fact, the Speedmaster Moonwatch has remained more or less the same since 1967, which is only a good thing. It’s yours for just shy of £9,000.
The Explorer pays tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, who, in 1953, became the first climbers to conquer Mount Everest. While they might have had Oyster Perpetuals on their wrists at the time, it’s the very same design that came to bear the ‘Explorer’ inscription when it was presented to the general public the same year.
You’ll be always on time with the Rolex Explorer, even in extreme conditions. The easily-readable dial is as stylish and versatile today as it’s always been, serving as a perfect companion in any setting. Another reason the Explorer is a great option is the price tag, as websites like CHRONEXT can have one shipped to your door for as low as £5,000.
This British masterpiece is best described as ‘modern-retro’ thanks to its sleek design and choice of font on the tachymeter. But that’s not to say it isn’t vintage, as the Premier B01 is still all the things that make a classic Breitling dress watch – even if you’re picking up the 2018 reissue.
Today, these kinds of chronometers are far and few between, especially now that the watchmaker in question has moved towards sportier styles in recent years. It’s certainly a versatile piece, even with the iconic British Racing Green face. Plus, you won’t be spending more than £6,000 to wind up your own Premier B01.
Getting bored of all these circular bezels? Consider the uniquely-shaped Swiss timepiece that helped the luxury watch industry come back from the quartz crisis of the early 1970s. For its relatively odd form factor, the Nautilus is surprisingly beautiful, perhaps thanks to its tasteful, minimalist face.
Aside from a clean and simple metal strap, this Patek Philippe features a brushed aluminium case surrounding a navy-blue dial with neat little minute indicators and a simple calendar window. It’s certainly an heirloom, albeit one reserved for those who have a few thousand pounds shy of £70k to get their hands on one.
Let’s end things off with something that can be found in the sub-£3,000 range, but will have anyone thinking it’s worth far more. Sitting atop 60 years of heritage is a Tudor that sports a tough, go-anywhere vintage look without sacrificing style or sophistication.
The Black Bay is quite attractive, particularly with the dial that features gold accents. It might not carry the weight of a Datejust, Submariner, or anything else from its sister company, but it doesn’t carry the same price tag either.