Vintage Watches: A 1979 Audemars Piguet Two-Tone ‘Jumbo’ Royal Oak, A 1978 Rolex GMT-Master Mark 3 ‘Radial Dial,’ And A 1950s Universal Genève Tri-Compax

Vintage Watches: A 1979 Audemars Piguet Two-Tone ‘Jumbo’ Royal Oak, A 1978 Rolex GMT-Master Mark 3 ‘Radial Dial,’ And A 1950s Universal Genève Tri-Compax

We believe every vintage watch has a story to tell. That’s what HODINKEE was founded on, and since 2016, we’ve used our knowledge to bring you a curated selection of vintage watches in the HODINKEE Shop that you won’t find elsewhere, all delivered with an emphasis on education, transparency, and storytelling. And now, we’re kicking things up a notch.  

You’ll still find us here every Wednesday morning, and we’ll still be highlighting what we love and what you should know about every vintage watch that appears in the HODINKEE Shop. You’ll also see every angle, of every watch, because we shoot all the vintage watches listed in the HODINKEE Shop ourselves – and we always will.  

What’s new, however, is the amount of watches you’ll discover each week. We’ve grown our team of specialists, and we’re now able to deliver a larger – and broader – selection of vintage watches than ever before. You’ll also learn about the highlight pieces in each week’s assortment in articles like the below, directly from the team members who are most excited about them. The comments section is also now open for discussion, because we want to hear from you – don’t hesitate to let us know what you think and what you’d like to see from us going forward.  

This Week’s Vintage Watches

<p>1960s Hamilton ‘Panda’ Chronograph Ref. 7723&nbsp;</p>

1960s Hamilton ‘Panda’ Chronograph Ref. 7723 

<p>1966 Rolex Two-Tone Zephyr Ref. 1008&nbsp;</p>

1966 Rolex Two-Tone Zephyr Ref. 1008 

This week, we couldn’t be more excited to bring you 20 all-new vintage watches in the HODINKEE Shop. While we’re pretty pumped to offer such a robust assortment, at HODINKEE, you know we’re all about quality over quantity, and these watches won’t disappoint. We have a beautiful Jumbo Royal Oak that may convert you to becoming a fan of two-tone, even if you’ve been a skeptic. If you’re a history buff, we have a handsome example of the true “Watch of Presidents.” And, if you were born in the year 1978, watch out – we have not one but two models that would make for perfect birth-year watches. Head over to the HODINKEE Shop now to explore these watches along with this week’s full vintage selection, or read on to learn more about what makes these watches so special. 

A 1950s Universal Genève Tri-Compax Ref. 22279/1 And A 1970s Audemars Piguet Two-Tone “Jumbo” Royal Oak Ref. 5402SA

By Saori Omura

The Universal Genève Tri-Compax is a vintage piece that incorporates the triple calendar moon-phase very well. The Tri-Compax model was introduced in 1944 at Baselworld celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary. The moon and stars on a beautiful blue background of the night sky at 12, alongside the bright red calendar hand, really brings focus to this watch. I love that the name of the company and the model are only subtly presented and more or less in the background, which is probably not what would happen if this piece was made today. The Tri-Compax models were offered in numerous dial configurations, and depending on the piece, they have the tendency to show a wide variety of patina. We find this one to have a perfect creamy honest patina and little imperfections. Altogether, it makes this example a compelling vintage piece to add to your collection, which you can do right here

It’s surprising to think that the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was introduced almost 50 years ago, designed by the legendary watch designer, Mr. Gérald Genta. It still feels fresh and modern yet classic all at the same time. When I got to try on this Jumbo Royal Oak, it clicked with me right away. Two-tone watches can be a total hit or a total miss because the proportion of the two metals has to be just right. But when it works, it really works. It commands presence in the best possible way, striking the right balance between sporty and dressy. Ultimately, it leans a bit more sporty for its integrated case and bracelet design, so it makes it more wearable day to day.  

The vintage nature of the piece certainly softens the “goldness,” if you will. It melds together with the rest of the piece quite nicely as opposed to standing out on its own, as gold parts tend to do. In addition, I have an affinity for grey dials, so I really appreciate this one with a nice Tapisserie finish. I highly recommend this watch for someone who’s looking for a Jumbo Royal Oak and also considering getting a two-tone watch. It’s surprisingly satisfying on your wrist, and you can make it yours now in the HODINKEE Shop.  

A 1978 Rolex Submariner Ref. 1680 And A 1978 Rolex GMT-Master Mark 3 ‘Radial Dial’ Ref. 1675

By Brandon Frazin

Rolex came out with the reference 1680 in the late 1960s, and it was the first Submariner of its kind to feature a date complication. This may not seem like a big deal, but it was. At the time, the Submariner was only available sans date, and the addition was a pretty significant step forward for the model. Today, the model is offered with and without the date, which all comes back to the reference 1680. Rolex initially designed the 1680 with the word “Submariner” in red text on the dial and eventually phased that out in the mid-1970s. Ever since, Rolex has made the Sub with all-white text, similar to the 1680 we have here today from 1978. 

This particular watch has aged beautifully, and the lume has turned to a gorgeous yellow custard color. This particular shade of yellow just pops against the black dial and bezel and gives the watch that awesome vintage look many are looking for. As most of you know by now, I am a big Sub guy, and when this watch came in, it was hard for me to put it down. I have seen many 1680s, but this one has to be one of the nicest “white” examples I have come across between the crisp case, great lume color, clean dial, and strong bezel color – it just ticks all the boxes. Be sure to check out the watch here.  

A stainless steel GMT 1675 is definitely on my “list” of watches to own one day. It’s very similar to a Sub in size and general style, BUT it has such a distinct look with a “Pepsi” bezel and an extra GMT hand that give it an identity of its own. Rolex came out with the reference 1675 in 1959, and it was in production until 1980. Over this time period, Rolex would tweak the model, and collectors have discovered roughly nine different dial variations. The watch we have here today is a Mark 3 dial nicknamed a “Radial Dial.” The “Radial Dial” has a very distinctive style that’s different from other GMTs, adding to the character. When comparing the lume placement for the hour markers, Rolex made them a bit more central on the dial, therefore the watch has its own look. 

One of the reasons why I really dig this exact watch is due to the Mark 3 dial and the nice way it has aged over the years. These Mark 3 dials don’t come up too often – I believe this is the first one we are offering in the HODINKEE Shop – and in all my years working with watches, I have only seen a few others. Due to the uniqueness of the Mark 3, many collectors covet this variation; this isn’t surprising because, especially with vintage Rolex, the little details matter. In addition to the dial variation, the lume has aged to an attractive pale yellow color, the bezel has faded very slightly in the blue portion, and the red part has almost a raspberry color that really looks great. All in all, if you are looking for a special 1675 in great condition with a great look, this is a solid contender. To check out all the details, go here.   

As I sit here nearly drooling over these two watches, I can’t help but think that if I was alive and in the market for a new watch in 1978, I would have been able to stroll into my local AD and pick up one of these watches or, heck, even both. I wonder if I would have noticed the distinct dial on the GMT, or if I’d have even thought about how the Submariner used to have red text on the dial. I was also thinking about how this is going to be a great test of self-control for someone out there looking for a birth-year watch from 1978.  

A 1950s Vulcain Cricket In 18k Gold And A 1950s Universal Genève Polerouter De Luxe Ref. 10357 1

By Cait Bazemore

This week, the two watches that immediately stood out to me from our compelling vintage lineup are steeped in horological heritage. The first is the President’s watch, and I’m not referring to the Rolex – this is the watch I consider to be the true “Watch of Presidents.” The second watch had me at Gérald Genta – I’m a sucker for Genta’s designs, from the most well-known to the most obscure. Here, we have one of his early creations, in essence a precursor or sneak peek at the designs that would etch themselves in watchmaking history. Let’s take a deeper look at the Vulcain Cricket and the Universal Genève Polerouter De Luxe we have in the HODINKEE Shop. 

The Vulcain Cricket first made its debut in style at an event at the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City in 1947. It soon went down in horological history as one of the first wristwatches to feature a mechanical alarm, and a decade later, it would solidify its place in our culture as the President’s watch, beginning with President Harry S. Truman. Despite being an instant conversation piece, what makes this particular Vulcain Cricket special is the combination of its two-tone dial and 18k yellow-gold build. The former adds a subtle interest to the otherwise clean and simple dial, and the latter adds a nice, substantial heft on the wrist, which is one of my favorite traits of precious metal watches. Make it yours by heading over to the HODINKEE Shop.

Next, we have another 18k gold model, this time the Universal Genève Polerouter De Luxe. At a glance, the Polerouter appears to be a quintessential gold dress watch with a beautiful automatic movement, the microrotor cal. 215. However, upon closer inspection, you notice the subtle geometry that’s distinctly Genta. The combination of the supple, perfectly round dial with the more angular Dauphine hands and uniquely textured and etched hour markers creates contrast and movement all on a simple, monochromatic dial. The result is just enough visual interest to make this more than your average gold dress watch. It’s even complete with a Universal Genève black alligator strap with matching gold-plated Universal Genève buckle. See it for yourself in the HODINKEE Shop

To view the entire current selection of vintage watches available in the HODINKEE Shop, click here

Questions? Send us a note, or let us know in the comments. Want to sell your watch through the HODINKEE Shop? Click here

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