ut what does this mean for vintage? Obviously, it’s a form of nostalgia, but does it also involve desire? If so, it’s a fierce, powerful desire. What was initially a fairly marginal interest in pieces from the fifties, sixties and seventies rapidly expanded beyond the mostly young circle of new collectors where it originally took hold. Vintage gradually became a dominant interest, and a booming economic sector in itself (if it’s ever possible to put a number on the vintage phenomenon, we’ll be sure to include it in an upcoming issue!).
The vintage trend has seeped into all markets to become “neo-vintage”, a style adopted by almost all brands looking to make something new from something old. No watch category has been unaffected, from dress watches to sports watches. (Take a look and see if you can spot the trend in our different galleries.)
The most significant type of nostalgia harks back to the era when watches were both an expression of style and functional. This was a time when tool watches reigned supreme, when wearers could use their watches for measurements, as chronographs, to display the time in different parts of the world, to take their pulse and get their bearings. Wearers expected their watches to accompany them to the North Pole, the depths of the oceans, into the stratosphere and even to the Moon. While it’s true that watches today still have all of these functions, watches no longer have a monopoly on precision timekeeping. They have been replaced by much more powerful tools. The vintage trend is a nostalgia for a time gone by that isn’t going to come around again. So, neo-vintage is an attempt at reviving the era.
The vintage trend is a nostalgia for a time gone by that isn’t going to come around again. So, neo-vintage is an attempt at reviving the era.
- VACHERON CONSTANTIN FIFTYSIX
- For Vacheron Constantin, the new Fiftysix collection inspired by reference 6073 from 1956 represents “a new chapter in our history... an important new step as this original line, inspired by a historical Vacheron Constantin watch... instils a modern momentum capable of opening up the world of fine watchmaking to every enthusiast.” Or, in other words, it’s destined to attract a new generation of fans, the infamous millennials everyone’s raving about. So, is the modern now going to come from the past? From 10,000 to 20,000$
- TISSOT HERITAGE 2018
- Inspired by the Tissot wristwatch from 1943, the Tissot Heritage 2018 design pays tribute to the original model. This version featured a nickel and titanium alloy case, a seconds subdial and a 27 mm calibre exclusive to Tissot. The contemporary model features a silvery dial that is domed and has a vertically brushed finish, leaf-shaped hands, a sapphire crystal with antireflective coating and a manually wound mechanical movement. Tissot has described its design approach as “nostalgia with panache”. Less than 1,000$
- LEICA L1
- This isn’t so much a new version of an existing model as a completely new watch inspired by the famed cameras that had their finest hour in the ‘vintage’ period. The finely-worked stainless steel case, grooved crown and curved crystal on the dial side of the watch, along with a myriad of other small details, evoke the signature simplicity of the lens of a Leica camera from 1914. An attractive manually-wound mechanical movement designed by Lehmann Präzision adds the technical touch Leica is known for. From 10,000 to 20,000$
- CARTIER SANTOS
- The Santos has come in a variety of different forms since the original was designed in 1904. It’s been reinvented at least once a decade on average. We’re not going to go into the timeline of the watch here, but suffice it to say that it was the first wristwatch, and it has also had the longest-lasting appeal, with all the ups and downs, moments of glory and moments that would be best forgotten that that entails. This is something that goes beyond simple vintage. For the new release this year, the watch has been updated, but its signature square shape is much the same. There are still eight screws on the bezel, but the bezel itself and the case are thinner for a sleeker style that sits more comfortably on the wrist. Cartier is looking back to the past to guarantee its future. From 5,000 to 10,000$
- GLASHÜTTE ORIGINAL SIXTIES DATE PANORAMA
- This watch features a domed crystal (now in sapphire), curved hands, original Arabic numerals and a retro curved degradé dial effect. The surface of the dial is lightly textured “made using traditional tools and stamps stored in the archives of dial manufacturer Pforzheim.” The sixties style is reminiscent of the “Spezimatic” mechanical watch series launched in 1964. While the watch is now powered by automatic calibres developed and manufactured in-house, the objective of the collection was to “bring the creative spirit of the swinging sixties into today’s world.” From 5,000 to 10,000$
- JAEGER-LECOULTRE POLARIS
- The Polaris isn’t just a new watch, it’s an entire new collection that Jaeger-LeCoultre have described as “a new core part of the brand that redefines sporty elegance.” This statement reveals the importance the brand has attached to the fledgling collection. For all that the collection is new, however, it is inspired by the Memovox Polaris from 1968. Jaeger-LeCoultre has described the new collection as “embodying the very spirit” of the previous design. The new watch is emblematic of the neo-vintage trend, reusing major features of the original design with a more modern style. From 5,000 to 10,000$
- DELMA SHELL STAR BLACK TAG
- In 1975, Swiss family brand Delma, founded in 1924, launched its first professional diving watch under the name “Shell Star.” The model has since become symbolic of the brand and has inspired several watch designs. It’s back again, this time with a 44 mm-diameter model featuring a helium relief valve, waterresistance up to 500 m and a see-through back. The new design comes in DLC stainless steel with an ETA 2824-2 calibre. From 1,000 to 3,000$
- OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CK 2998 LIMITED EDITION
- Omega has recently unveiled the new Speedmaster CK 2998 Limited Edition, continuing to build on one of its most popular watch designs. The original was released in 1959 and has since become one of the most popular vintage Speedmasters in the world. Omega has retained many of the iconic features of the original watch that inspired the design but has added several updates. All three subdials are black, as well as the minutes track. The polished ceramic bezel features a white enamel pulsometer scale. The pulsometer scale in particular is a special feature of the CK 2998. In the original models, customers could choose from four different versions of the timing bezel: tachymeter, pulsometer, decimal or telemeter. The new Speedmaster has an Omega 1861 calibre, a main feature of the Moonwatch collection. From 5,000 to 10,000$
- IWC PILOT WATCH CHRONOGRAPH
- There’s no need to go back to the fifties, sixties or seventies, people are already using the word ‘vintage’ to describe this pilot watch inspired by the first IWC mechanical Fliegerchronograph launched in 1994. Even at the time, reference 3706 was associated with a vintage look. The instant classic is going back to its original design: a quarter-seconds scale to measure short periods of time and rectangular hands covered in a luminous material. The robust 79320 calibre measures splits and additional time up to 12 hours. Like all of IWC’s pilot watches, the movement is protected against magnetic fields by a soft iron case and the crystal is resistant to sudden drops in pressure. From 3,000 to 5,000$
- URBAN JÜRGENSEN THE ALFRED
- Neither vintage nor neo-vintage, but inspired by a truly classic design, The Alfred is named after Jacques Alfred Jürgensen (1842–1912), the last watchmaker in the Jürgensen family. The watch is the perfect encapsulation of the century-old tradition, with tear-drop shaped lugs, a domed crystal, signature hands, grenage dial created using a traditional grenage technique and the classic seconds subdial. The watch is powered by the Urban Jürgensen P4 calibre. From 10,000 to 20,000$
- BREITLING - NAVITIMER 8 B01 CHRONOGRAPH 43 LIMITED EDITION
- Navitimer 8 watches are based on the designs of the Breitling Huit Department founded by Willy Breitling in 1938. The Department’s name refers to the eight-hour power reserve of the dashboard instruments designed by the company. The watches are inspired by one of Breitling’s most iconic pilot watches, reference 768 from 1941. The rotating bezel and triangular hour markers attracted pilots to the watches. There’s a strong vintage touch to this limited-edition model in everything except how it is sold, which is thoroughly modern thanks to a partnership with Mr Porter, a leading online retailer. From 10,000 to 20,000$
- ORIS BIG CROWN POINTER DATE BRONZE VERSION
- Oris has launched, relaunched, or even re-relaunched its Big Crown Pointer Date pilot watch. The history of the watch dates back to 1938, when it first came out. The model then fell by the wayside to an extent and was relaunched in the eighties “to demonstrate Oris’ mission to champion the eternal values of the mechanical watch”, as it said at the time. The brand was then somewhat forgotten once again, and is now being relaunched, this time with the Pointer Date version in steel and bronze. The bronze version is particularly attractive, with a pistachio green dial that goes perfectly with the colour and texture of bronze. Once vintage, always vintage. From 1,000 to 3,000$
- MATHEY-TISSOT 1886
- Mathey-Tissot sought the services of Eric Giroud to create, or indeed, ‘recreate’ a modern classic for the brand. This followed a recognition that some of the brand’s models were selling very well on eBay and other online retail platforms and that seventies style was back in fashion. A special watch custommade for Elvis Presley was hidden away in the brand’s storage. Inspired by the discovery, but not content with simply recreating the watch, the meticulous Eric Giroud wanted to express the quintessential Mathey-Tissot seventies style by focusing on the elegance of simplicity. From 1,000 to 3,000$
- MIDO COMMANDER SHADE PVD OR ROSE
- Mido launched its first Commander watch in 1959. It immediately became an iconic piece and has been sold continuously ever since. For the brand’s 100th anniversary, they have released an almost identical model to the Commander Shade from the seventies, with a single-piece 37 mm round case in polished steel. Wearers can choose a PVD or rose gold finish. The smoked sunray satin-finished dial is on full display in the streamlined design inspired by the 1979 model. The dial’s two-tone graduated finish in taupe and silver is protected by an acrylic crystal. The watch features an ETA 2836-2 automatic movement. From 1,000 to 3,000$
All mentioned prices are indicative and correspond to price segment.
TO READ MORE
Europa Star Watch Curator ’18 is a selection of 147 watches classified under 13 specific trends:
Tourbillons - Globes - Sun, Moon & Stars - Purity - Open-worked - Skulls - Sport - Tough - New displays - Barocco - Vintage & Neo-vintage - Connected - Calibres.