There is no doubt that vintage watches are hot. But procuring one from the second-hand market can be fraught with risk: that bargain you bagged from eBay might be a fake or a lemon, leaving you with little recourse. While arguably less romantic, a brand new one comes with a warranty and the latest technology watchmaking has to offer. Here are five to consider:
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref 5196G-001
Paying tribute to the 1932 original, this classic Calatrava is informed by that overarching Bauhaus maxim, form follows function. And since the purpose of a watch is to tell time, the dial is devoid of embellishments that may detract from the hands. Even the seconds, being seen as secondary to everyday timekeeping, is relegated to a sub dial at 6 o’clock.
MB&F Legacy Machine 1
Now, something a little different. Instead of directly referencing the past, this MB&F piece imagines what it would be like if we took today’s watchmaking techniques and applied them to 19th-century inspirations. The result is this steampunk Legacy Machine 1. The design incorporates the lazy 2.5Hz oscillation of the pocket watch, the majestic twin arches a la the Eiffel Tower and a vertical power reserve indicator reminiscent of a miniature sextant, all enveloped by a crystal clear bubble sapphire dome.
Breguet Héritage Grande Date 5410
The tonneau is one of the earliest variants for the watchcase, and is immediately associated with the image of a fin de siècle gentleman in a waistcoat and leather driving gloves. This Breguet piece is a sophisticated 21st-century version of that shape with curvatures on two axes ensuring that it sits perfectly on the wrist. Otherwise, the aesthetics are delightfully vintage with delicate engine-turned motifs, with the large-date the only deviation, a concession to modern day usability.
Cartier Drive de Cartier
It is not very often that the venerable French luxury house introduces a completely new shape to its fine watch line, so there is much to celebrate about the Drive de Cartier. Inspired by vintage automobiles with flourishes like a guilloche on the dial that resembles the pattern on a radiator grille, it fills a lacuna in the collection for strong masculine watches. Best of all: it uses Cartier’s lauded in-house movement, the 1904 MC.
Nomos Tangente 33 Karat
The wristwatches of old were usually simple affairs and this Glashütte-based maker harks back to that. Bucking the trend of massive dials, this Nomos boasts a small 33mm diameter. The gold-coloured dial, art deco numerals and dark brown velour leather strap all add to the elegant vintage feel of this hand-wound masterpiece.
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