Vintage Watches: A 1980s TAG Heuer 1000 Series Professional, A 1985 Rolex Daytona ‘Big Red,’ A 1981 Seiko ‘Golden Tuna,’ And A 1987 Seiko ‘Ashtray’

Vintage Watches: A 1980s TAG Heuer 1000 Series Professional, A 1985 Rolex Daytona ‘Big Red,’ A 1981 Seiko ‘Golden Tuna,’ And A 1987 Seiko ‘Ashtray’

If it hasn’t hit you yet, HODINKEE looks a bit different this week. Articles highlighting our editors’ favorite watches from four decades ago and what was on the wrist of Eddie Murphy when promoting 1987’s Beverly Hills Cop II have replaced our typical coverage. We’re not just going to breeze by that incredible Paramount Beverly Hills Cop II Letterman’s jacket, we see you, Mr. Murphy. Anyway, yup, it’s 80s week here at HODINKEE. All the stories from the week can be found here, on the official 80s Week page – check it out, it’ll be a great primer for this week’s vintage selection.

<p><a href="https://shop.hodinkee.com/products/submariner-16800-7477125" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><u>1983 Rolex Submariner Ref. 16800 With Matte Dial</u></a></p>

1983 Rolex Submariner Ref. 16800 With Matte Dial

<p><a href="https://shop.hodinkee.com/products/speedmaster-ref-145-022-78-serial-44820671" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><u>1980s Omega Speedmaster Professional Ref. ST 145.022-78</u></a></p>

1980s Omega Speedmaster Professional Ref. ST 145.022-78

<p><a href="https://shop.hodinkee.com/products/stop-watch-in-box-1" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><u>1980s TAG Heuer Split-Seconds Stopwatch Ref. 712.302 New Old Stock</u></a></p>

1980s TAG Heuer Split-Seconds Stopwatch Ref. 712.302 New Old Stock

<p><a href="https://shop.hodinkee.com/products/19xx-patek-philippe-tiffany-white-gold-ref-3667-3567-with-buckle" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><u>1981 Patek Philippe Ref. 3667 In 18K White Gold Retailed By Tiffany &amp; Co.</u></a></p>

1981 Patek Philippe Ref. 3667 In 18K White Gold Retailed By Tiffany & Co.

<p><a href="https://shop.hodinkee.com/products/gmt-master-ii-ref-16760-case-8366306" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><u>1984 Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 16760</u></a></p>

1984 Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 16760

<p><a href="https://shop.hodinkee.com/products/2-tone-datejust-with-b-p-case-r757850" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><u>1988 Rolex Datejust Ref. 16233 In Two Tone With Box and Papers</u></a></p>

1988 Rolex Datejust Ref. 16233 In Two Tone With Box and Papers

Where most weeks we prefer to offer a wide range of vintage watches – reaching all the way back to the 1930s at times – to go along with this week’s theme, every watch listed this go-around is from the decade du jour. The 1980s offer a really interesting intersection within the watch world. Many classic models, like the Omega Speedmaster and Rolex GMT-Master, are found in a transitional phase – one foot in pure vintage and another stepping forward toward a more modern feel, with solid-link bracelets and upgraded movements. In a different vertical, brands like Seiko and TAG Heuer were innovating a whole new kind of watch, a quartz-powered one, and exploring the possibilities of this uncharted territory. Check out all the 1980s gems in the vintage watch section of the HODINKEE Shop, and read on for a few deeper stories on our personal favorites of the bunch.

1980s TAG Heuer 1000 Series Professional Ref. 980.029N

By Saori Omura

The TAG Heuer 1000 Professional Series was one of the most popular sport watch designs from this awesome period. Combined with the decade being all about extravagance and flair with an abundance of gold and two-tone watches, TAG Heuer went completely out of the box – away from a conventional dive watch design – and delivered an unorthodox product in black-PVD and gold-plated finishes. The black and gold color combination is snazzy, and it may seem counterintuitive at first, but that’s what makes this watch fantastic. It’s one of those watches you’re not sure of in the beginning, but you get more curious as you stare at it, and once it’s on your wrist, you’re thinking, “Hmmm…I’m starting to really like this watch.”

Also, black-PVD and gold-plating are often subject to noticeable wear, but the two different finishes on this watch and bracelet remain in crisp condition, making this example a strong contender for current wear. True to form for the ’80s, it’s fitted with a quartz movement, which was actually a positive attribute for the time and part of what made this watch so popular when it was released. It helped minimize overuse of the crown, which could lead to water seeping inside the case with a mechanical movement. Topped with a black dial, gold accents, and softly aged lume, this is a true ’80s vintage, baby! Head on over to the Shop to check it out in its full ’80s glory.

1985 Rolex Daytona ‘Big Red’ Ref. 6263

By Brandon Frazin

What can I say about the Daytona? After having this ref. 6263 on my wrist as I write this, I can’t deny that the hype is real. The ref. 6263 is one of my favorite Daytona references because of the Oyster case, the screw-down pushers, and the black bezel. These characteristics give the watch a much more aggressive and bold look compared to the earlier pump-pusher variations. There’s just something about the screw-down pushers and black bezel that gets my heart racing. The example we have here today is from 1985, which marks the last era of the manually wound Daytonas; in a few short years, the next generation of automatic Daytonas would be available. To me, it’s cool to think about the last version of something and how after this, the Daytona would never be the same.

One thing that draws me to this example is its overall excellent condition. Specifically, the dial is to die for; all the lume plots are full and round, and the color of the lume all matches very nicely. Dials on these watches are so important, and when you see a good one, you understand why. The custard-colored lume looks beautiful against the silver dial – it’s just so good. Another nice thing about the watch’s aesthetic is the overall contrast – the bezel is black, the dial is silver, and the registers are black; it all just works so well together. Then, throw in that red “Daytona” text on the dial above the hour register and *chef’s kiss.*

Since it is ’80s week, after all, I would like to end here with some wise words from Ferris Bueller, “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

1981 Seiko Professional Diver’s 600m ‘Golden Tuna’ Ref. 7549-7009 And A 1987 Seiko Professional Diver’s 600m ‘Ashtray’ Ref. 7C46-6009

By Rich Fordon

These are two watches I knew little to nothing about a week ago. I missed the iteration of the early internet watch world where collectors were modding Seikos and delving deep into the rich dive watch history of the brand on forums. Some others around HODINKEE, like Cole Pennington, were there – I wasn’t. Beyond the 62MAS and the Captain Willard ref. 6105-8110, Seiko divers never grabbed me. Obviously, that changed or I wouldn’t be picking these two watches to highlight. The “Golden Tuna” and “Ashtray” divers are as great on the wrist as they are rich in history.

In 1968, Seiko received a letter from a professional diver in Kure, Japan – a port city in the Hiroshima prefecture – explaining that the current dive watches offered by the brand simply weren’t good enough. On prolonged saturation dives, the 62MAS and other early Seiko divers stood no chance against underwater pressure. Kaizen, a Japanese word for “improvement,” has been a business-school buzzword, and back in the day, it was more a sense of reasoning that Japanese people and businesses lived by, inherently or explicitly. The spirit of Kaizen is more specifically “improvement in all facets, whenever possible.” The Kure-based diver’s letter provided an open door for Seiko’s engineers to spring through. After seven years and filing for 20 patents, the “Tuna” diver emerged in 1975. More than a clever nickname, the tuna reference is not to the fish but rather to the lack of lugs and circular bezel shroud that mimic the shape of canned tuna. This “Golden Tuna” is the second generation in the product line of 600m capable divers and dates to 1981. The black and gold tones as well as the large but extremely wearable and surprisingly comfortable case shape are the model’s calling cards.

In favor of constant improvement, Seiko rebuilt its professional diver model in 1986, after nine years of Golden Tuna production. With the new 1000m-capable “Big Golden Tuna” ref. 7C46-7008, a slot opened up at the now mid-range diver depth of 600m. In came the Seiko “Ashtray.” Somehow even more ’80s feeling than the Tuna, the Ashtray’s bezel design cannot be from any other decade. That said, the watch doesn’t look out of place on a wrist in 2021; the vibe is ’80s, but the look has stood up to the test of time. Check out both of these classic Seiko dive watches, the Ashtray and the Golden Tuna, in the Shop now.

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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