Last month, we went in-depth looking at 10 great vintage reissues between $ 1,000 and $ 3,000, and before then at 10 options below the $ 1k price point. Now we come to the final edition of our “Nostalgia Machine” series, taking our first steps into the luxury market and looking at 12 vintage reissue watches above the $ 3,000 line. While we saw some exceptional and quite famous watches in the previous two chapters— notably the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical, Bulova Lunar Pilot, and DOXA SUB 300T among many others— it’s once you enter the luxury market that you begin to see some of the most iconic historic designs in a reissue format. Here we begin to see some of the most famous options from Cartier, Omega, Zenith, and TAG Heuer, among a few lesser-known, but no less interesting, pieces from Breitling, Sinn, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and others.
To refresh, we’ll be looking almost exclusively this week at vintage reissues— that is modern watches highly faithful to an original vintage design produced by the same brand. Though time will tell if we don’t focus our eye on vintage-inspired reinterpretations— or modern watches that are heavily influenced by historical models but take a bit more liberty in their designs— sometime in the future.
Longines Classic Chronograph 1946 – $ 3,050
Longines is often considered one of the leaders within the neo-vintage trend, producing and curating an extensive assortment of vintage reissues within their Heritage Collection. The most recent addition to the collection is in the Longines Classic Chronograph 1946, a model that takes direct design cues from the 1946 timekeeper from which it draws its name. The 40-mm modern model might be somewhat larger than original vintage source material (usually sized between 34 and 38-mm), but at its core remains a healthy dose of vintage style within a highly wearable modern case size.
The steel watch features curvy lugs, ovular pushers, and smooth bezel which looks almost flat due to the bright silver dial and polished finishing of the case. On the dial of the model, you can find a vintage configured style, complete with black printed Breqeut style numerals for the hours, blue steel hands including vintage-influenced leaf hands for the hours and minutes, and a small, subtle Longines logo towards the 12 o’clock. Longines
Sinn 903 St – $ 3,120 to $ 3,450
A brand much less frequently considered within the trend of vintage reissues is German watchmaker Sinn. Though for its lack of prominence in producing neo-vintage watches, the brand has nonetheless been creating some of the more interesting reissue models on the market today. Of these, one of the most interesting models in the brand’s modern collections it the Sinn 903 St.
As the story goes, at the peak of the Quartz Crisis in the late 1970s, Helmut Sinn, founder of Sinn Watches, secured the rights to produce from a struggling Breitling its own Navitimer-type chronograph, now dubbed the 903 St. Ever since, Sinn has offered the watch as part of its ongoing collections, providing the interesting watch to a group of historically-oriented and interested collectors unwilling to pay Breitling’s premium. Today, Sinn is the only other brand besides Breitling to authentically offer the 41-mm Navitimer design, and with Breitling’s lowest-priced model marked at $ 6,850, Sinn drives a hard bargain for its own fascinating model. Sinn
Cartier Tank Solo Gold – $ 4,600+
Cartier today has an assortment of historical-focused watches within its offerings, in recent years even launching its Privé Collection which works to revive some of the brand’s most interesting and uncommon historical designs, this year the collection featuring the Tank Asymétrique for Watches & Wonders 2020 within it. But for their array of offerings, few within their collections offer as much vintage charm as the modern gold Tank Solo. The Tank Solo, which is the direct descendant of the original Tank designed in 1917 and widely considered one of the most iconic watches in watchmaking history, is today a focused collection of elegant, rectangular watches complete with the vintage design’s iconic features like blue steel sword hands, Roman numerals surrounding a rectangular minute ring, and sapphire tipped crown.
The most historically relevant of the modern Tank Solos is seen in the yellow gold editions, which begin in price at $ 4,600 for quartz caliber models, and $ 5,200 for mechanical models. Cartier
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional (ref. 3220.127.116.11.01.005) – $ 5,350
This guide would clearly be incomplete without the Omega Speedmaster, so let’s take a look at this icon’s modern incarnation. The Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional (ref. 318.104.22.168.01.005), features much of the original features seen on vintage Moonwatches, including a solid case back, Hesalite crystal (Omega’s brand name for acrylic), and the Omega caliber 1861, which is a 1996 developed movement that derives from the original caliber 861 used in Moonwatches from 1969 onward.
Other features to note are the twisted lugs, 42-mm case size, black fixed tachymetric bezel, and dial configuration which is unmistakably a Moonwatch. All of these features converge to offer the modern wearer one of the most fascinating pieces in watch and human history, allowing a contemporary collector access to the historical design though still with modern finishing and manufacturing expected from the modern Omega brand.
At the start of this year, Omega made waves with another vintage-inspired model in the Speedmaster 321 “Ed White” in steel, which is the second watch in the brand’s modern collections to use the vintage Omega Caliber 321 first used in the original Speedmaster models from 1957 to 1968. Omega
TAG Heuer Monaco – $ 6,150
The TAG Heuer Monaco is one of the most iconic watches in racing history, gaining watchmaking fame for being one of the first watches to feature the famous caliber 11 movement— one of the first automatic chronograph calibers— as well as wider fame for being worn on actor Steve McQueen’s wrist in the 1971 film Le Mans. Today, the modern Monaco is available in a wide assortment of interesting designs, the most recent of which was released last month, and five of which were unveiled last year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the series. For the many variations of the design, an interesting reissue remains at the center of the modern collection with the ref. CAW211P.FC6356.
The blue dial reissue model features the vintage model’s iconic left-side crown, as well as the matte dial, horizontal hour markers, red accents, circular chronograph-style minute ring, and square registers. Its fascinating 39-mm square case helps it retain its positioning as one of the most interesting racing watches modernly available, and with serious vintage charm at $ 6,150 it’s one of the more relatively affordable, super iconic chronographs on the market, today. TAG Heuer
Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 38mm – $ 7,700 to $ 8,200
Next up is the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 38mm, which like the previous TAG Heuer Monaco is the modern edition of one of the first automatic chronographs in the original Zenith El Primero first released in 1969. This specific El Primero is the most historically accurate in the brand’s modern collections to the original design, featuring a faithful 38-mm steel case and distinct dial configuration that loudly channels the original icon with its triple colored sub-dials, black outer minute ring, and red chronograph seconds counter.
Zenith has been steadily increasing the number of reissues it’s producing within the El Primero line, last year unveiling the El Primero A384 Revival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the series, and this year releasing a blue dial “Cover Girl” version of the watch and most recently a special edition blue sub-dial A386. Zenith
Grand Seiko Re-creation 1960 – $ 8,000+
Grand Seiko has been steadily releasing interesting reissues for at least the past half-decade, and one of their latest is in the Grand Seiko Re-creation 1960. The modern watch celebrates the 60th anniversary of Grand Seiko, and itself is a reissue of the first Grand Seiko, the ref. 3180. Like the original watch, the reissue models feature a relatively simple polished case, though slightly larger at 38-mm compared to the originals 35-mm, with a clean dial complete with sharp dauphine hands and double rectangular applied hour markers. The modern Re-creation 1960 also features a hand-wound mechanism like its forebearer, this time in the Grand Seiko Caliber 9S64, with its excellent finishing visible via a sapphire case back.
The Grand Seiko Re-creation 1960 design is available in either titanium, yellow gold, or platinum at $ 8,000, $ 26,000, and $ 38,000, respectively, all available on an ongoing basis starting this month. Grand Seiko
Breitling AVI Ref. 765 – $ 8,600+
While we might have focused on Sinn for a Navitimer-type piece, aviation-focused Breitling still has a number of other interesting vintage reissues among its vast collections. One of its most attention-grabbing is in the Breitling AVI Ref. 765, an interesting pilot’s chronograph channeling the original Co-Pilot Ref. 765 AVI first produced by the brand in 1953.
The modern reissue is available in either steel ($ 8,600), rose gold ($ 22,850), or platinum ($ 39,900), though it’s the steel version that shines in showcasing the vintage elements seen on the historical model it’s based upon. With a well-sized 41-mm case complete with a 12-hour rotating bezel and pump pushers, it maintains faithful proportions to the 1953 model. Then on the dial, we find an attention-grabbing configuration, with its most notable feature in the five-pronged 15-minute sub-dial. Breitling
Glashütte Original Spezialist SeaQ – $ 8,700 to $ 9,900
Glashütte Original has released several interesting vintage-inspired models over the past few years, but one of the most attention-grabbing is also one of their latest additions in the Spezialist SeaQ. The 2019 reissue is based upon the 1969 Spezimatic Typ RP TS 200, produced by the German watchmaker’s then East German, state-owned forebearer Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB). Initially, the new watch was released in a more faithful limited edition model complete with green hands contrasting to the black dial and its faux patina accents, but now the watch is available as part of the brand’s permanent collection with an all fauxtina styling.
As for specs, the 200m water resistant diver features a 39.5-mm steel case with squared-off lugs, a large prominent crown, and a simple unidirectional diving bezel with white accents. The dial of the watch recalls the retro style seen on the original East German dive watch, complete with alternating printed oversized Arabic and rectangular hour markers, a simple white minute ring, 3 o’clock date window, and arrow/sword hand configuration. The watch is powered by the brand’s in-house caliber 39-11, with the excellently finished movement hidden and protected via a solid engraved case back.
The Spezialist SeaQ begins in price at $ 8,700 equipped on either a tropic rubber or canvas strap, and $ 9,900 secured on a triple link steel bracelet. Glashütte Original
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox – $ 12,400
Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of many watch enthusiasts’ most highly regarded brands, and for good reason. The 187-year-old watchmaker has a long history of producing highly desirable watches, both in terms of their fantastic technological features and their distinct aesthetics. While the brand has several reissues within its collection— notably the Geophysic True Second and iconic Reverso among them— it is the Polaris Memovox which seems to catch my attention the most. The model is based on an incredibly rare 1968 watch by the same name, with the unique model like its forebearer bringing together a supercompressor-style dive watch with an alarm complication. This combination of features allows the diver to reach extreme depths and be notified when the dive is soon to be over, which ideally will allow the diver to focus on the task at hand rather than focusing on the time left.
The reissue version of the watch was released a few years ago in limited quantities, though likely due to its high price tag and unique combination of features is still readily available through Jaeger-LeCoultre. For the more price wary, the brand also produces a more modern non-alarm version, with prices for these models beginning at $ 6,600.
Jaeger-LeCoultre produced multiple alarm complication watches through its history, one of which Worn & Wound Editor Zach Kazan takes a look at in one of our previous guides, “Stranger Things: A Guide to Unusual Complications.” Jaeger-LeCoultre
Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 – $ 20,100
The final reissue we’ll be looking at is the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942. The model is a part of the brand’s Historiques collection, which notably includes a host of other vintage reissues like the American 1921, Calendrier Complet 1948, and Cornes de Vache 1955, together which alongside the famous Overseas collection have helped position the brand at the forefront of neo-vintage trend in the haute horologerie market.
The Triple Calendrier 1942 is one of the 1755-founded brand’s most classic and historic-looking watches to-date, featuring a design almost exclusively seen on original mid-war watches. The model features a polished, stepped steel case with teardrop lugs on its top and bottom, a subtle crown, and sapphire case back showcasing the 3-day power reserve caliber 4400 QC hand-winding movement. Then on its dial, we find an intriguing triple calendar configuration, complete with a black railroad minute and vintage-style printed Arabic numerals, red-accented analog date ring and matching red-pointer, and simple stick blue steel hands steadily passing over the face. Vacheron Constantin
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