Vintage-styled watches continued to be a hot category at this year’s Baselworld and SIHH watch fairs. As we continue to take a look back at some of the most notable timepieces launched in 2016, we showcase today 10 watches with a distinctively retro influence.
The Alpina Seastrong Diver Heritage is a modern interpretation of the brand’s first divers’ watch, introduced in 1969. Like the original, the new watch features “Super Compax” water-resistance technology and a double screw-locked crown system: the crown at 4 o’clock is for winding and time-setting while the one at 2 o’clock rotates the inner bezel ring to measure dive times on a 60-minute scale. A domed, nonreflective sapphire crystal replaces the hesalite crystal of the vintage model. The watch has a 300-meter water-resistant, 42-mm steel case and is powered by the mechanical automatic Caliber AL-525, with 26 jewels and a 38-hour power reserve. The price is $1,695.
Introduced in 1975, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato claims a place as one of its decade’s iconic luxury sports watches, alongside other such ’70s introductions as the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. For the latest version of the Laureato, which is limited to 225 pieces in homage to the brand’s 225th anniversary in 2016, the Swiss brand returns to the elegantly simple look that first made it a hit. The watch has the stainless-steel case with octagonal bezel that identified the original timepiece (smaller than more recent versions, at 41 mm), along with the seamlessly integrated flexible bracelet and Clou de Paris checkerboard pattern dial, with baton-shaped hour and minute hands. The movement is Girard-Perregaux’s manufacture Caliber GP03300-0030, with automatic winding. The price is $14,300. More details on the Laureato can be found here.
IWC Schaffhausen launched its first Big Pilot’s Watch (52-Caliber T.S.C) in 1940; for 75 years, that historic timepiece has held the title of largest IWC watch ever made. This year, however, IWC releases one that eclipses it: the IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55. It has a dial with several new and subtle design features that make them more period-accurate: the triangle under the 12 o’clock position is is now in its original, lower position under 12 o’clock, the Arabic numeral “9” (omitted in favor of an index since 2002) is back, and the blued propeller-shaped hands are coated with beige Super-LumiNova. Its huge, 55-mm case is made of lightweight titanium and contains an in-house movement, IWC’s manual-winding Caliber 98300. The large, cone-shaped crown is also an echo of those on the historical pilots’ watches, which would often need to be grasped by a military aviator’s heavily gloved fingers. The watch’s brown calfskin strap, divided into two, sewn together at the ends, and held together by two rivets on the strap bar, recalls those early aviator timepieces that tended to be worn over a thick flying suit. For more on the watch, and its similarly vintage-styled 48-mm counterpart, read our report from SIHH.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second, with its 39.6-mm-diameter case and its grained, silver-toned dial, is a modern take on the original Geophysic watch, a famous and collectible chronometer that the brand produced in the “International Geophysical Year” of 1958. Its case features lugs that meet the case middle not with a smooth curve but with a sharply defined angle, an expression of this model’s tool-watch heritage. The sides are polished to accentuate their silhouette; a close glance also reveals that the bezel slightly overlaps the case and lugs, making for a very streamlined look. The screwed-in caseback also echoes that of the watch’s historical predecessor. The inner part of the case middle, surrounding the dial, features Super-LumiNova-filled “dots,” corresponding with the dial’s applied, linear hour markers, that enable the wearer to read the time easily in the dark — another aesthetic touch used in the 1958 original. The new movement, Caliber 770, is equipped with a “dead-beat seconds” feature, which causes the seconds hand to jump forward once every second, a rarity in a mechanical watch and one that enables a much more precise reading of the seconds. This function is, again, a nod to the original Geophysic’s role as an authentic, time-measuring instrument for scientific research. Click here for much more on the new Geophysic watches for 2016.
The Longines Railroad Watch is inspired by a 1960s model developed for railwaymen, replicating the important elements of high precision and legibility. Like the original, the dial is marked with the letters “RR,” followed by the caliber number – “280” on the original and “888” on the reissued model, referencing the automatic Caliber L888.2, which is exclusive to Longines. Like the original, the caseback is engraved with a steam engine, a depiction that adorned pocketwatches designed for railway companies in the 1920s. The 40-mm case is stainless steel and it features a box-style crystal. The dial is highly readable, with large, black Arabic numerals against a white background, including a prominent 24-hour scale on the inner track. It is priced at $1,850.
The Omega Speedmaster “CK2998” is a re-production of one of the most collectible Omega Speedmaster references on the market, originally released in 1959, and features Alpha hands, a symmetrical case, and a dark blue bezel with a tachymeter scale. The bezel is made of ceramic and the tachymeter scale (a reminder that the Speedmaster was originally aimed at the auto racing set before its association with space travel) is treated with Super-LumiNova for extra legibility in low light. Omega Caliber 1861 — the manual-wind chronograph movement used in the very first Omega Speedmaster “Moonwatch” — beats behind a solid, screw-down caseback engraved with the collection’s classic Seahorse emblem and the limited edition number. The price is $6,500. Click here for more info.
The Panerai Luminor Daylight 8 Days is one of two new models (available as a set) that the brand released this year to pay tribute to Hollywood action star Sylvester Stallone, whose movie “Daylight” helped put Panerai watches on the map 20 years ago. The watch, outfitted with an extremely rare white dial with blue markers and numerals, is a reproduction of the 1996 model, a collector’s Holy Grail watch of which only a very few still exist. It faithfully duplicates that model’s white dial and adds hour markers and hands (including the small seconds hand at 9 o’clock) executed in an intense blue color. It has a 44-mm-diameter case made of polished AISI 316L stainless steel and a solid, screwed caseback, engraved with the words “Officine Panerai Firenze” and the OP logo. The blue alligator strap echoes the color of the dial elements and the steel tongue buckle is sewn-in, as it was in the original models. The movement is Panerai’s manual-winding Caliber P.5000, which stores a power reserve of at least eight days in two series-connected spring barrels. For details on both Tribute to Stallone models, click here f0r our report from SIHH.
The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King, at 40 mm in diameter, replaces the 34-mm model that Rolex discontinued in 2014. The watch, whose heritage stretches back to Rolex’s early aviation watches of the 1930s, isn’t just bigger, it’s brighter: the dial is decorated with a vibrantly yellow Rolex crown logo and the Rolex name is printed in the brand’s signature green. The hour hand has been spruced up by the addition of a “Mercedes” tip; the green seconds hand now bears a luminous dot for better visibility. The movement is Caliber 3131, which differs from the old Air-King’s movement, the 3130, in that its escape wheel is made of nickel-phosphorus, which helps make the movement less susceptible to magnetism. (It’s the same movement used in the Milgauss, specially designed to be unaffected by magnetic fields.) The case also has an inner lining to protect the movement from magnetism; it is the first Air-King with this feature. Generally regarded as the “entry level” Rolex model, it is priced at a relatively modest $6,200.
A re-edition of a chronograph watch made to celebrate Formula One legend Niki Lauda’s 1976 victory, the new TAG Heuer Monza sports the vintage, pre-TAG, “Heuer” logo on its dial like other models in the brand’s historic collections, and maintains the original’s cushion-shaped case as well as its all-black look and black and white lacquered hour and minute hands. The indices are coated with a “vintage” Super-Luminova that glows orange in the dark. The case measures 42 mm in diameter — up from the 39 mm of the 1976 original — and is made from grade 5 titanium, making it lighter and more shock-resistant than its historical predecessor, which was in steel. Inside the watch is automatic Caliber 17, with an integrated chronograph. For more on the re-issued TAG Heuer Monza (price: $5,200), click here.
A new addition to the popular Tudor Black Bay collection, based largely upon the Tudor Submariner models of the 1950s, particularly the 1954 “Big Crown” and “Snowflake” Submariners, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 36 is distinguished by its smaller (and more historically appropriate) 36-mm case size. The satin-finished steel case has a polished bezel and the familiar large Black Bay crown. It contains the Tudor Caliber 2824, the same modified ETA 2824 used in the 41-mm Black Bays. On the black dial resides the applied white triangle, rectangular, and circular hour markers familiar from past Tudor divers, as well as the much-loved snowflake hour hand, diamond-lollipop seconds hand, and sword minute hand. To find out how the new watch (priced from $2,825 on a leather strap) stacks up against its historical predecessor, read our “Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy” feature comparing the two.