It wasn’t too long ago that the latest design trend in the automobile industry was to incorporate retro design elements of decades past. Just about every manufacturer jumped on the bandwagon to have some type of retro vibe embedded in their new cars. Customers loved it. Now, the new trend in luxury watches seems very similar in the form of “vintage” design. At the two premiere international shows for elite watch manufacturers, SIHH in Geneva and Baselworld in Basel, Switzerland, top brands, such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, Patek Philippe, Longines, Tudor, and Hamilton, all have exciting new looks featuring vintage cues. As the saying goes, what’s old is what’s new.
At the SIHH show, just about all the conversations kept coming back to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date and its “old school” sector dial. Even though it draws inspiration from vintage features, the contemporary design possesses an assertive personality. The steel case is pretty much the ideal size at 39mm x 8.5mm and the two-tone dial looks extremely high-end. With a price point of $5700, we’ll likely be seeing a lot of this watch later this year.
Patek Philippe makes its entry into the vintage realm with their 5320G-001. This is quintessential vintage Patek from the 1940’s and 1950’s. You have the classic two apertures for the day and month, a moon phase display with date window at six o’clock, a complex case, and luminous syringe hands. The case is 40mm in diameter and only comes in white gold. The dial is a wonderful cream lacquer that appears very much period, as if it has aged a bit already. Ultimately, the 5320-001 is the combination of many great features from several of the great Pateks of years past – but made today. This gem from Patek sells for an astonishing $82,800.
Meet the Longines Heritage 1945 as we did at Baselworld. It clearly illustrates the inspiration from watches whose design and elegance have withstood the test of time. This watch is meant for those who want to adorn their wrist with a timepiece sporting clean lines and a vintage look. The 1945 elegantly marries the sturdiness of its steel case with the warm tones of its brushed coppery dial and the velvety nuances of its aged-looking leather strap. Dramatic bluish steel hands adorn the face. The hour circle alternately displays Arabic numerals and silvery cabochons, perfecting the pure style of this iconic mid-twentieth century timepiece. Pricing for this exceptional watch is around $2000.
TUDOR enters the field of watches with vintage looks with the Heritage Black Bay Chronograph. Having “heritage” in the name immediately invokes a vintage feel, as with the Longines. However, the TUDOR comes with a twist – it’s a new hybrid chronograph and dive watch. Here’s a quick rundown of the mixed elements in this watch:
- The tachymeter scale
- Two sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock
- Central seconds hand
- Two screw-down pushers for the chronograph
- A highly legible dial with bold indices and hands
- The red “meters first” text
- The so-called “big crown” for the diver
The bracelet of the Heritage Black Bay Chronograph is inspired by the folding riveted bracelets of the TUDOR watches produced in the 1950s and 1960s. The Heritage Black Bay Chronograph is competitively priced right around the $5000 mark.
Finally, we present you with the Intra-Matic 68 Auto-Chrono from Hamilton. This watch is a melding of several Hamilton chronographs from the late 1960s. Design features, such as the reverse-panda chronograph layout, the date wheel at six, and the long pushers, contribute to the watch’s vintage references quite nicely. The overall feel of a fine retro watch is further accentuated by a domed-shape dial and curved hands. At 42mm, however, the Intra-Matic is scaled up to a more modern size, dwarfing its historical counterparts. Yet, all the elements feel balanced within the larger case. This is a limited edition with only about 2000 units being made. We saw one at Baselworld. If you can find one, they cost around $2200.
[Related: Four Popular Luxury Watch Brands for Men]
Now that you’ve been bitten by the vintage bug and want to get in on the new trend in luxury watches, what should you do? That’s easy. Come to one of our stores in Charlotte or Winston-Salem and our Watch Specialists can help you pick out your very own vintage-inspired luxury watch. We represent each of the brands mentioned above plus many more. Be sure to check our web site for the availability of brands at each store.