Traditional watches are making more and more of a comeback with each passing day. Men and women alike are leaning more towards the classics of yesteryear (Rolex, Breitling, Omega, IWC and others) to make their fashion statements heard. And whether you are looking to add a pop of style to your wardrobe or are wanting a future family heirloom, there is nothing better than a classic timepiece. Below you will find some fantastic pieces that have spent quality time on the wrists of some the greatest style icons ever. Whether you are a first time vintage watch buyer, or a seasoned connoisseur, you can’t go wrong with these choices.
With that in mind I caught up with Ben Clymer, from Hodinkee, to chat a little about this growing trend, where it’s going, and his recommendations for the perfect time piece for your lifestyle.
BEN CLYMER | Q&A
With watches making a comeback among men and women of the smartphone era, what are your thoughts on the trend and where do you see it going?
I think a lot of it has to do with what’s in fashion, and that is heritage brands and classic style. No one claims a mechanical watch is necessary to tell the time, but there is something to be said about something that relies on you to keep it working. And, most great watches are assembled by hand, which is something few industries still do these days. I think for people who care about craftsmanship and design, watches will always be in style.
When looking for a vintage time piece, what are some key things to consider?
The first thing to consider is that a vintage watch is not new, nor should it look new, or perform like it’s new. These watches have been around for decades and they should look that way. If a watch is from the 1960s but looks like it came off the line yesterday, that’s not right. Vintage watches are much more work to maintain and much more of a risky investments as you can often find out later that things might not be as they seem.
What should one look out for?
Look for dials and hands with colors that don’t match. If the hands are pure white and the markers on thedial are a nice faded yellow, it means the hands have been replaced. Also look for overpolished cases where you can actually see the spring bars popping through the lugs. Also look for repainted dials that simply look too fresh to be vintage.
What three shops or sites would you recommend to begin the hunt?
Our curated sales on GILT is a great place to start. I hand pick the watches and working with some friends, price them very well considering they are all freshly serviced and with a warranty. I also really like the selection at wannabuyawatch.com and for vintage Rolex’s, 10pastten.com.
What are your three watch recommendations for men who are looking to get a unique time piece that is durable enough to keep up with both their active lifestyle (from traveling to surfing) but to also be chic enough to wear from day to night?
The most versatile watch, and arguably the best, is the vintage Rolex Submariner reference 5513. Look for one from the early 1970s and wear it on a nato strap while surfing, and a bracelt or leather back in the city. It is an absolute classic. Vintage Heuer Carrera chronographs are another option and can go both ways – many of them offer the same looks and mechanics of a vintage Rolex that would cost $25k for around $5k. Finally, the Omega Speedmaster Professional (preferably with caliber 321 dating to 1967). This watch is one of the best ever made and its base caliber is from a company called Lemania, which power some of the most expensive watches in the world from Patek Philippe, Vacheron, and Breguet. The value proposition plus the NASA provenance make it hard to resist.
Vintage Universal Geneve Polerouter or Compax models | One of the great brands of the 20th century, it was distributed along with Patek Philippe for decades and is a really tremendous value for the money.
THANK YOU BEN