Vintage is one of the biggest trends these days… Really, what a piece of news! We all know that brands have been widely surfing on the vintage / heritage / reissue trend for over 10 years now. However, in the middle of the dozens of vintage-inspired watches launched every year, there are some good ones, ones you really need to consider. Here are 5 of the coolest vintage-inspired watches of 2017 that will help you look good this summer.
Note: there’s a difference between vintage-reissue and vintage-inspired. The first one basically mimics an existing watch, by copy-pasting all the elements (which is in fact quite rare). The second category implies watches that use elements from the past, mixed with modern specifications, such as a larger diameter, modern automatic movement or contemporary display – this has been for instance the recipe used by Tudor with the Heritage line-up.
Seiko Prospex Diver SPB053 Inspired by the 62Mas
If money is one of your concerns – which certainly means many of us – Seiko is always a good option to consider. Indeed, its watches, including the professional collection Prospex, are extremely well-made and powered by automatic movements manufactured in-house. They have style, they have the robustness and they have the specs. However, many of its watches have been based on modern designs, without that little vintage-touch that would create the perfect ‘cool’ package. That was until 2 or 3 years ago, when the brand started introducing retro-inspired watches, such as the Turtle. And in 2017, they do it again, with 2 collections inspired by Seiko’s first dive watch, the 62Mas.
While the proper reedition is a watch priced at nearly EUR 4,000, and certainly already impossible to find, another solution, economically-friendly, exists: the SPB053. Using elements of the 1965 watch, such as the indexes, the bezel and the overall shape of the case, Seiko brings here modernity with more angles and more colors, as this watch, also available in black, pops even more in blue. Inside is Calibre 6R15, which powers many of the middle-range Seiko watches. Contemporary dimensions too, with a 42.6mm diameter. The price: a reasonable and more than justified EUR 900.
TAG Heuer Autavia 2017 Calibre Heuer 02
Rather than take the risk of choosing themselves which of the various Autavia models should be reissued, TAG Heuer made the clever decision to ask collectors and fans of the brand directly which one should be the inspiration for the 2017 Autavia, with a community initiative, a spontaneous consultative approach where people could vote. The result was that the new edition should mimic the “Jochen Rindt” 2446 Mark 3. However, not an exact reissue, but a watch that takes inspiration from the vintage piece.
The new Autavia plays on the trend, shares visual elements and uses colors and details, but doesn’t copy. In fact, it is a modern watch, in terms of dimensions (42mm diameter), materials (solid steel case, sapphire crystal), movement (a new automatic and integrated column-wheel chronograph movement, the Heuer 02, with 80h power reserve) and display (with a date). However, visually, you’ll have the taste of the old watch with the advantages, the reliability and the presence of a modern piece. A well balanced vintage-inspired piece. Price: EUR 4,600 on leather, EUR 4,750 on steel bracelet.
Zenith Heritage 146 Chronograph El Primero
EL primero refers to a legendary watch and to the movement that comes along with it. This calibre is widely accepted as one of the best chronograph movements of all time, and back in 1969, it was one of the very first automatic chronographs ever – and to knock the competition out, it featured a hi-beat escapement. What makes the current El Primero watches vintage isn’t that they are reissues but rather that they are virtually unchanged since being first introduced: same case, same dial, same movement…
For 2017, Zenith brings an extremely clean and nicely proportioned version, with a small 38mm diameter and a dial, historically accurate with a clear 1960s feel. Nothing superfluous, only 2 sub-counters, a tachymeter scale and no date. Modernity and style is brought by the choice of colors: deep blue or warm chocolate. And still inside is the 36,000vph column-wheel and automatic legendary El Primero movement. Price: CHF 6,900.
Ulysse Nardin Le Locle Diver
When a brand that has actually never really looked to its heritage starts to do vintage-inspired pieces, it can be risky, or at least surprising. However, if you know Ulysse Nardin’s rich history, you’ll discover some pretty interesting pieces, such as a very good looking 1960s dive watch, on which the modern Ulysse Nardin Le Locle Diver is based. For its first properly vintage-inspired piece, UN did very well.
The Diver Le Locle is again a modern iteration, using vintage codes to create coolness. While the shape of the case, the hands and the indexes are based on the historical model, the dimensions (now 42mm), the display (small second and date, the original was central second), with a modern movement (in-house, with silicon escapement) and the materials are all very modern. However, the style and the class are unbeatable and the watch can easily be thought of as cooler-than-ice-cream. Price: CHF 9,600.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra Thin 15202 Full Yellow Gold
Since summer is coming, why not be a bit showy for once and sport a full (really full) gold watch on the wrist. However, not every watch can score on Monochrome. The AP RO 15202, which now comes back in full yellow gold, like in the old days, is high on our list. Because it is based on the modern version, it is a bit bulkier and more present than an old one. However, the case retains the original “Genta” shape and the dial its exquisite hand-guilloche finish.
Inside, it has the same base movement as the 1972 version, meaning a super slim automatic calibre. For 2017, it makes a comeback in full gold, but as it relies on a yellow alloy instead of the previous rose alloy, it has this outdated charm and the warm color that it used to have in the past. Even the dial uses this color, even if a dark blue version, maybe more understated, also exists. Bling-bling, yes but with class and style. Price: EUR 54,600.