If we talk about trends in watchmaking, vintage has been one of the main sources of inspiration for brands since around 2010. And yet, after all these years, re-editions of glorious past models and vintage-inspired watches are still a hot topic in 2023. Retro-styled watches, vintage reissues and old-school design language are still staples in brand collections across the board. However, finding the right balance between modern watchmaking and retro design language isn’t as easy as it seems. And for this very reason, selecting our five Favourite Vintage-Inspired Watches of 2023 was a bit more complicated than we anticipated…
Note: make sure to share your favourite vintage-inspired models of 2023 in the comment section at the end of this article. With so many retro-styled watches on the market this year, we look forward to seeing your top choices.
Angelus x Massena LAB Chronographe Médical
We start this selection with a slightly unexpected brand, Angelus. A historically important name, Angelus was recently revived with modern, high-tech, complicated watches. It took the intervention of industry veteran William Massena (founder of Massena LAB) and the launch of the “La Fabrique” collection by Angelus to see this name printed on the dial of a retro-inspired watch. The result – now sold out – is a gem, a relatively compact and characterful doctor’s chronograph with an original display modelled after a 1960s watch. What matters most are the two scales, a pulsometer and an asthmometer. And then there’s the movement… Inside is a hand-wound column-wheel chronograph with traditional architecture provided by the Angelus calibre A5000. And it’s actually an upgrade of a movement once done by THA and Journe, housed, for instance, in the case of the brilliant Cartier CPCP Tortue Monopoussoir.
For more details about the Angelus x Massena LAB Chronographe Médical, please consult our Hands-On article here.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 Bronze-Gold
This year, Blancpain’s emblematic Fifty Fathoms dive watch celebrated its 70th anniversary. Following Act 1 (a modern-ish 42mm model) and Act 2 (a proper tool watch developed for closed-circuit rebreather diving), Act 3 is the model that made the strongest impression on us as a reproduction of vintage MIL-SPEC models made in German silver, with the moisture indicator on the dial. In order to retain the charm and originality of the material once used by military forces, this Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 is presented in a bronze-gold alloy. The 41.30mm case captures the feeling of the original models of the 1950s and feels radically different from most modern Fifty Fathoms watches. Materials and mechanics are, as you’d expect, modern and far more high-end than in the past. And so is the price…
For more details about the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3, please consult our First Look article here.
Longines Legend Diver 39mm
A cornerstone model in the brand’s Heritage collection for more than 15 years, the Longines Legend Diver or LLD has always been a great example of what to do in vintage re-editions. Modelled after a 1959 watch, the modern version retains most of the charm of the original yet with a modernized construction (the compressor case has gone, for example). Nevertheless, it’s long been a fan’s favourite, which is coming back this year in a revised version… And with convincing arguments: smaller 39mm case, shorter lugs, cool beads-of-rice bracelet, enhanced comfort, no-date display and upgraded movement. Altogether, Longines has managed to positively update one of its most emblematic modern watches. It still looks fantastic and now is more pleasant to wear than ever. What’s not to love here?
For more details about the Longines Legend Diver 39mm, please consult our First Look article here.
Seiko 5 Sports SRPK17 55th Anniversary Limited Edition
While Seiko is well-known for its countless watches inspired by the past, this one is a bit different, being a re-edition of the very first Seiko 5 Sports from 1968. A highly important collection for Seiko, it was introduced in 1963, with the beefier Seiko 5 Sports following in 1968. For the 55th anniversary of this model, the SRPK17 was introduced, and it feels as close as possible to the original watch. Entirely different from other models in the 5 Sports collection, this watch has a tonneau-shaped design with shrouded lugs, a bidirectional bezel and a hidden crown. It’s even quite compact at 39.5mm and only 43mm L2L. Dial-wise, same story with an almost 1-to-1 reproduction of the original watch. The mechanics inside are more modern, but the 20mm flat-link bracelet also exudes retro charm. It’s limited to 15,555 pieces (no typo…) and comes at a very fair price, as always with this collection.
For more details about the Seiko 5 Sports SRPK17 55th Anniversary Limited Edition, please consult our Hands-On article here.
TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper
As indicated by the title of this article, we’re talking about vintage-inspired watches here, not necessarily about faithful re-editions. With its Carrera Skipper, TAG Heuer is bringing exactly that: a watch that evokes the past with a modern construction behind it. Basically, this watch is an evolution of the successful Carrera Glassbox presented earlier this year with a different dial – one that makes quite a difference. Inspired by one specific watch from 1968, the Skipper was dedicated to regatta races with a 15-minute regatta pre-start counter separated into three five-minute segments. All of these features returned in 2023 with a dark blue dial and the all-important modified 15-minute counter in Intrepid Teal, Lagoon Green and Regatta Orange. And then you have all the greatness of the Carrera Glassbox itself, meaning an attractive bezel-less case, a relatively compact watch on the wrist and a modern movement inside.
For more details about the TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper, please consult our Hands-On article here.