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
We’re back this week with an expansive selection of vintage pieces in the HODINKEE Shop. Whether you’re still looking for that oh-so-perfect gift for the holidays or simply to expand your own collection, we think you’ll appreciate our lineup this week. We have a mix of standout watches from the Crown, like a classic Rolex GMT-Master ‘Root Beer,’ as well as more unexpected sport models, like a 1960s Rolex Milgauss. On the other end of the spectrum, we have some fantastic dressier pieces, like an 18k Omega Constellation and a 1988 Patek Philippe Reference 3796 in 18k yellow gold. Still, the two most exciting watches in this week’s lineup may very well be the two picks from our own Brandon Frazin: an Orvis Solunagraph Ref. 2446SF By Heuer and a Doxa Complete Calendar Chronograph With Moon Phase. Head over to the HODINKEE Shop now to check out these watches and more, or read on to get our team’s take on these models.
A 1970s Orvis Solunagraph Ref. 2446SF By Heuer And A 1940s Doxa Complete Calendar Chronograph With Moon Phase
By Brandon Frazin
I love the idea of time traveling back into the 1970s, going to Orvis, and getting outfitted for a fishing expedition. Then, right after I get all my gear, I realize I need a watch for my trip, stroll over to the counter, pick out one of these Solunagraph chronographs, and go on my way. That thought makes me almost laugh out loud because situations like this don’t really happen too much these days. I wonder how many of these Solunagraphs were actually purchased like that. The first time I saw one of these was a few years ago when I worked in the auction world, and I was really enamored by it. The whole Orvis and Heuer connection really struck a chord with me. Back in the day, my mom had an Orvis-edition Jeep Grand Cherokee, so I was familiar with the brand and it all came full circle.
I like the size of the 2446 Compressor case and the use of blue on the subdials with the beautiful grey, almost taupe, colored dial. I think you all know I am a fan of dive watches, so to me, it’s neat that they incorporated a diving-style rotating bezel with the chronograph and threw in the tide indicator. The watch we have here is the first execution (Heuer made two versions of this model for Orvis). The main differences between the two would be the bezel, tide indicator, and hand style. They’re both very cool, but there is something to be said about getting the first execution of a watch. These Orvis Solunagraphs by Heuer are some of the least common watches out there. Plus, the sheer uniqueness of the model makes this a pretty compelling watch for someone who wants something interesting, functional, and that has a fun story. Check out the watch here.
This has been said before, and it will be said again: Vintage watches really are all about the little details, and this Doxa is full of ’em. The first thing that I noticed on this complete calendar was how nicely Doxa matched the blue and red accents on the dial. The red date numbers around the edge match the red hand that points to them, and the blue Tachy around the hour markers match the seconds hand and moon-phase disc so nicely. The person who designed this watch knew exactly what they were doing.
When looking at other complete calendar watches from this time period, you don’t find them often with this kind of character. In addition to the blue and red colors, the smooth silver dial looks great with the applied gold hour markers and contrasts nicely with the engine-turned subsidiary dials. The light just bounces off the subsidiary dials, giving them an almost champagne glimmer that goes perfectly with the gold hands and hour markers. I almost forgot to mention those awesome spherical hour markers, and paired with the thin leaf-style hands and Arabic 12, it just has a great overall look.
One other nice detail about this Doxa is how they set up the correctors on the side of the case at nine o’clock. Some companies would make buttons where one needed to use a little “pusher” tool to push in the button to change or correct the month and date, but on this watch, there are actual small buttons, so one can just use a fingernail to adjust the time without worrying about scratching the case. See this watch for yourself over in the HODINKEE Shop.
A 1970 Rolex Milgauss Ref. 1019 And A 1988 Patek Philippe Ref. 3796 in 18k Yellow Gold
By Saori Omura
Rolex’s philosophy has always been about achieving the extraordinary, from reaching the deepest of the seas to the highest of the mountains. The Milgauss is one of the oddities among their sport models – it never had any fancy backstory related to exploration over land, air, or sea like the other sport models. However, it certainly came about from exploring the new frontier. As World War II came to an end in 1945, there was a rise of significant interest in whether nuclear energy would become the next best source of energy in the world. In the 1950s, as more scientists, engineers, and technicians entered this research field, a brand new demand for watches with higher anti-magnetic capabilities needed to be addressed. While wristwatches were generally made with anti-magnetic properties by this era, this was a whole new work environment with much higher magnetism than previously known.
The name “Milgauss” signifies the watch’s ability: “Mil” means one thousand, and “gauss” is a unit of magnetic induction. The Milgauss was designed to resist up to 1,000 gauss, and in the late 1950s, the anti-magnetic capability was officially tested by the European Council for Nuclear Research in Geneva (aka CERN). It passed the test, confirming the watch’s capacity to withstand up to 1,000 gauss, as the name claims. The ref. 1019 is the third generation model introduced in the 1960s. Rolex updated this model to a more subtle design overall with either a silver or black dial, polished smooth bezel, and seconds hand with a small red triangle tip. The case size is just right at 38mm, hitting in the middle of Datejust/Day-Date and Submariner/GMT-Master territories. It’s certainly not the most recognized Rolex sport model, but this is exactly why I love this piece. It has an interesting history, and only people with a keen eye will know what you have on your wrist. If you’d like to see this watch on yours, head over to the HODINKEE Shop.
The beloved Patek Philippe Calatrava has been in production since the 1930s and represents the core values of the company. It appears simple and effortless at a glance. However, when you look further, it becomes evident that the details are meticulously thought through, and there is no margin of error in the final product. This Calatrava design is interesting in so far as it is more of a broad idea of a time-only dress watch in a round case as opposed to a very specific design. Plus, none of the pieces designated as a Calatrava ever actually had that name anywhere on the watch. Over the years, these designs were offered in various metals, sizes, and dial configurations. The one common theme throughout the design is that, regardless of the configuration, the proportions are on point. This Calatrava in 18k yellow gold resembles a similar style to the original ref. 96, hence the reason why Patek Philippe issued the reference number as “3796” to pay tribute to the original model. We rarely use the term “timeless” to describe a watch, but we feel that this watch deserves this highest accolade as a watch design transcending beyond time and gender of the wearer. After all, we never actually own a Patek Philippe, we merely look after it for the next generation! To make this watch part of your lineage, visit the HODINKEE Shop.
A 1968 18k Omega Constellation With 18k Omega Bracelet Ref. 168019 And A 1976 Rolex GMT-Master ‘Root Beer’ Ref. 1675 In Two-Tone
By Cait Bazemore
By now, you may be getting a sense of the type of watches that really strike my fancy, and one element that will always catch my eye is yellow gold. Today, stainless steel tends to reign supreme in the watch space, and yellow gold certainly isn’t for everyone or every watch. But for me, there’s something about the warmth of it and the sometimes-ostentatious statement of it that instantly draws me in. In addition, I’m a sucker for anything related to the cosmos, be it a moon-phase complication or general aesthetic. Needless to say, I was pretty excited about a couple of the gold watches that came across our desks this week: an 18k Omega Constellation and a Rolex GMT-Master ‘Root Beer.’
Omega first introduced the Constellation collection in 1952, but it would take a few years and a few modifications before we would get the model we see here today. In 1964, Omega made some notable aesthetic updates, namely in the form of the c-case, which resembled two interlocked c-shapes. You can see this case in the 18k gold ref. 168019 we have in the Shop. In addition to this unique case design, you’ll notice a gold linen-textured dial that really adds depth and interest. Furthermore, the dial is non-lume with black painted hands and black on the applied hour markers. Black and gold is a classic combination from an aesthetic perspective. However, Omega also did this for legibility. This ref. 168019 takes it a step further with the original Omega-signed 18k yellow gold expandable bracelet, which is in great condition and still has tension. With this Constellation, you also get the added bonus of a day-date complication, located at three o’clock. Still, for me, the clincher is the little details that are trademarks of the Constellation: the embellishment of the star on the dial as a reference to constellations in the sky and the Observatory Logo on the caseback in homage to Omega’s award-winning movements that were evaluated at the Kew Observatory in 1933 and 1936. Learn more about this watch, and make it your own, in the HODINKEE Shop.
The Rolex GMT-Master has become synonymous with its distinctive two-tone bezel combinations and the subsequent monikers these color combinations have garnered. This ‘Root Beer’ GMT has aged like a fine wine, with an attractive bezel that’s faded into nice, soft shades of red and copper, both of which perfectly meld with the dark, earthy burgundy dial. While any model in the GMT-Master lineup is undoubtedly a robust tool, marked by GMT functionality, the ‘Root Beer’ offers something more. The rich warm tones of the two-tone bezel and the two-tone build give this highly capable model a certain softness and own unique sense of style. I love that this combination allows you to dress the watch up or down. Check it out for yourself right here.
To view the entire current selection of vintage watches available in the HODINKEE Shop, click here.