Although it was a trend that started more than ten years ago, who would have imagined that re-editions of glorious models of the past and vintage-inspired watches would still be a hot topic in 2022? But it is a reality: retro-styled watches, vintage reissues and old-school design language are still staples in brand collections across the board. There are many ways to produce vintage-inspired models; however, while some are genuinely fascinating, many fail to find the right balance between modern watchmaking and a retro look. With this in mind, and to mark the end of a year rich in new models, we’ve selected what we think were the best vintage re-edition watches presented in 2022.
Note: please share your favourite vintage-inspired models of 2022 in the comment section at the end of this article.
Cartier Pebble Re-Edition
We start this selection of vintage-inspired watches with a bit of a controversial model… There’s a lot to like regarding the design of the Cartier Pebble, and there’s a lot to dislike about the price (in all fairness, Cartier is really pushing it too hard here, with a watch that is double the price of an equivalent Santos-Dumont). But if we focus entirely on the design and the sheer audacity to revive such an original watch, kudos to the French brand because the result truly has personality. The Pebble is a perfect example of what Cartier London was capable of producing during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Unusual shapes, an interesting mix of geometrical patterns, classical touches on the dial and bold habillage. And the brand revived it earlier this year in an almost identical way, with an ultra-thin hand-wound Piaget base movement inside. Unfortunately, and despite the price, all 150 examples probably sold out long ago.
Quick facts: 36mm yellow gold case – shaped sapphire crystal – beige opaline dial with Roman numerals – hand-wound calibre 430 MC (base Piaget) – leather strap – reference CRWGPB0003 – limited to 150 pieces – EUR 40,000
Longines Ultra-Chron Diver
With one of the richest histories in the watchmaking industry, it is no surprise to see Longines making our vintage-inspired watch list. The brand with the winged-hourglass logo masters the concept of re-editions, balancing modernity and retro elements with glorious models like the Legend Diver, the Classic Sector or the Tuxedo Chronograph. But the brand’s latest release in this field is even more special. It revives a retro design and reintroduces precision and high frequency, a choice topic for Longines. This new Ultra-Chron Diver is very cool looking and has everything you’d expect from a modern re-edition (faithful looks, upgraded materials, overall cool factor), despite Longines being a bit too generous on the dimes. I applaud the brand for the mechanical side, as this Ultra-Chron features a modern 5Hz high-frequency movement, with chronometer certification by TimeLab. And that’s not a small achievement.
Quick facts: 43mm cushion-shaped steel case – rotating bezel with sapphire insert – 300m water-resistant – matte black, grained dial with applied markers – automatic calibre L836.6 high-frequency 5Hz, chronometer-certified by TimeLab – steel bracelet or leather strap – permanent collection – as of EUR 3,240
Omega CK 859 Re-Edition
This watch is a typical case of “those who know, know” and a discreet introduction by a brand. Often, when something new appears, brands accompany the release with a lot of fanfare and noise. Omega did the opposite with a watch that we had to discover by ourselves. And the surprise was even sweeter, as this CK 859 Re-Edition is probably the best new Omega of the year. Modelled after a classic “Calatrava-styled” model from the 1930s, it’s a great example of the past inspiring the present. Overall, it’s a modern watch with a case resized to a contemporary 39mm, fitted with an advanced hand-wound Master-Chronometer movement. What matters is the dial and the shape of the case, both packed with retro charm and details that speak to an audience of vintage lovers. The dial is made of solid silver, with a classic sector style and old-school elements on the logo and the hands. And it’s not even a hyped-up, ridiculously overpriced, unobtainable watch, but a nicely priced (at least considering it’s an Omega), handsome time-only watch that’s numbered but not limited.
Quick facts: 39mm steel coin-edge case – solid silver Ag925 sector dial with blued hands – hand-wound calibre 8926, Master-Chronometer – brown vintage-style leather strap – reference 511.12.309.21.99.002 – numbered edition (not limited) – EUR 6,800
Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222
Vacheron Constantin has long been part of the wave of luxury sports watches with integrated bracelets, a style represented by the Overseas collection. A continuation of the classic 222 watch launched in 1977, the Overseas was certainly more modern than a Jumbo RO or a Nautilus 5711, both quite faithful to their original models. VC has corrected that with the presentation of the Historiques 222, an extremely loyal recreation of the original model. And, let’s get straight to the point, the watch is an absolute winner. Design-wise, there’s not much that has changed. The dimensions are almost the same, and all the details of the habillage have been kept. However, the brand has introduced some notable upgrades, such as a redefined bracelet (far more comfortable) and a new, more robust movement now with a quick-set date. And while I would have loved to see a stainless steel edition, I do think, after second thoughts, that this 18k yellow gold edition looks rather stunning. But it comes at a price…
Quick facts: 37mm yellow gold barrel-shaped case with fluted bezel – gold-toned matte dial with gold markers and hands – automatic calibre 2455/2, in-house – yellow gold integrated bracelet – reference 4200H/222J-B935 – boutique exclusive, non-limited – EUR 78,000
Vulcain Cricket Alarm
What’s fascinating about vintage re-editions is that sometimes it’s not just a mission to revive a specific model but can be extended to restoring a dormant or deceased brand. One man is quite good at that and has been behind the revival of Nivada Grenchen and Excelsior Park. Laidet’s latest project is about waking up another sleeping beauty: Vulcain. And there was no better way to do so than with a revival of the Cricket Alarm, the brand’s most emblematic watch and movement. With this new collection of vintage-inspired, compact and desirable watches, Vulcain is back as a brand, and the manufacture where the Cricket movement with alarm complication was produced is also ticking again. The new collection, available in 36mm and 39mm cases, looks good, is well executed and is powered by the brand’s classic hand-wound calibre V-10 with two barrels and a mechanical alarm function. It’s available in two different styles, in two sizes and in various colours—a nice comeback, to be honest.
Quick facts: 36mm or 39mm steel case – semi-matte dial available in two styles (salmon available in limited edition) – hand-wound Vulcain V-10 calibre with mechanical alarm function – various leather straps available – as of CHF 3,900