This week on “Vintage Eye,” we’ll be pivoting to the super-affordable side of the neo-vintage trend with the Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph. This watch was released earlier this year by the value-driven microbrand to much fanfare. As the watch’s name indicates, it’s modeled after 1960s-style racing chronographs, and takes its foremost inspiration from the Universal Genève Compax “Nina Rindt” produced in the same era (picture below via Analog/Shift), along with a few smaller elements from the Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” references. These vintage watches defined ‘60s racing watches and continue to significantly influence modern sports watches, so it’s no surprise a vintage-inspired modern brand would choose them as its most recent focus.
The model uses a 39-mm steel case, with faceted lugs, pump pushers and a slightly tapered crown. The piece is available in three color options, “Evil Panda” (black with a red chronograph seconds hand), “Panda” (white with black accents), and “Blue” (blue with orange accents). Encircling the face is a black or blue tachymetric scale, with a racing-style minute counter on the outermost edge of the dial just within it. An applied mark is used for each hour hand, with wide hour hands determining the running time. There’s a subdial for a 60-minute counter, running seconds, and 24-hour running hours at the 9, 6, and 3 o’clock positions, respectively, while a thin hand is used for the chronograph seconds, racing over the dial upon activation.
Within the watch is the Seiko Mecha-Quartz VK series — an integrated movement that uses a quartz mechanism for the timekeeping and a mechanical element for the chronograph. Released last summer, the 1962 Racing Chronograph is currently being retailed directly through Dan Henry for $260.
Between the modern, super-affordable Dan Henry model and its vintage forebears which can retail for tens of thousands of dollars, there are a number of key similarities, foremost among them the color scheme. While Dan Henry offers three different color options for this model, it is the white-dial model that is the most popular — and accordingly the only one of the three styles currently on back-order, primarily due to its similarities to the “Nina Rindt.” Then there’s the shape of the case with its pump pushers, a faceted style clearly recalling vintage ‘60s chronographs. Finally, there are the remaining dial details, like the applied hour markers, the shape of the hands also recalling those of vintage Universal Genève models, and the triple subdials which not only recall those of the Compax, but also those of the “Paul Newman” Daytona models thanks to their square accents.
It should be apparent that this modern era, entry-level Dan Henry has some clear differences from some of these significant historical watches as well. Obviously, there is the difference in movement between the vintage mechanical and modern Mecha-Quartz, but we also see it in the overall production quality of the modern model, too. The vintage models have serious character, defining an entire era of watchmaking and today setting the standard for what chronographs look like today. The modern Dan Henry is plainly a replication of this style, offering its unique takeaways to the masses, but ultimately lacking — for better or worse — the historical depth and attention to detail defined by those trendsetting models of yesteryear.
Considering its price and its styling, the Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph offers consumers an interesting and affordable watch unlike most others on the market. It would work as a solid daily wearer, and I’m sure has already provided many fashion-focused and cost-wary watch buyers an entry-level path into the world of horology — more so than have the higher-cost vintage watches that inspire them. Possibly the most important takeaway from this model is how it represents Dan Henry’s continued success within this niche; the brand has built its entire business upon the ongoing neo-vintage trend, and all signs point to it remaining consistent with that mission for many years to come.
For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we discuss the Seiko Prospex SRQ029 Limited Edition and the historical watch that inspired it, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.