8 Great Vintage Watches12:38 pm
While most of us are focused on owning watches that push technological boundaries, dreaming up new complications, and looking towards the future, we forget that there is a whole other world of classic and timeless watches that speak of a bygone era.
Owning a classic watch is an entirely different experience from wanting the latest and the contemporary. Whether the urge to collect vintage watches comes from the love of a traditional watch movement, a desire to gather little bits of history, or an interest in vintage style, there is something about these watches that captures nearly everyone’s imagination. It is difficult to lay out a set of definitive criteria that clearly separates modern watches from classic ones. It is safe to say, however, that the boundary between them originated circa 1980s. This is when modern artistic designs surfaced in the watchmaking scene, giving us the basic structure of the modern wristwatch.
Classic watches make a unique expression of where they came from, what inspired their design and how they have been recreated to capture a brief moment of history. Finding the perfect watch is just as big a part of the journey as owning it. There is always more to learn and more to enjoy. At Ethos, we understand the sentiment that goes behind owning a classic watch and hence we have compiled an array of exquisite time tellers that capture the essence of history beautifully.
BELL & ROSS WW1-92 HERITAGE
Since its inception, Bell & Ross has consistently been passionate about the history of aviation and its heroes. Their designs and mechanisms revolve around the philosophy of precision and reliability, which reflect in their instruments. The Vintage Collection by Bell & Ross brings together the design elements of the Roaring Twenties: the changing designs of civil aviation timepieces. The WW 1-92 pays tribute to the first kind of wristwatches worn by pilots in the 20’s, a design born from the need to keep watches hands free. The watch draws inspiration from a pocket watch, fittingly transformed into a classic wristwatch. Housed in a 45mm stainless steel case, this WW1-92 Heritage features a grey polished dial with polished hands pointing at an outer minute circle and inner hour circle. The modern design with traditional history illustrates the passion Bell & Ross has for aviation and has created this beautiful timepiece for connoisseurs around the world.
OMEGA SPEEDMASTER MOONWATCH
Omega timepieces have been at the heart of many great moments in time that have tested the limits of physical endurance and human courage, including the first manned lunar landing in July of 1969. When astronaut Buzz Aldrin stepped on the lunar surface – the second human being ever to do so – he was wearing none other than this Speedmaster Professional. The watch has a unique place in the history of space exploration as the only piece of equipment to have been used in all of NASA’s manned space missions, from Gemini in the mid-1960s to the current International Space Station program.
From its first mission onwards, this timepiece became known as The Moonwatch, the first watch worn on the moon. With its black dial and iconic tachymeter scale, this 42 mm chronograph was designed to stand out. The indexes and central hour and minute hands are coated in Super-LumiNova which emits a green light. A hesalite crystal protects the dial which is enhanced with a 30-minute recorder, 12-hour recorder and small seconds sub-dial at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock respectively. The stainless steel case is presented on either a stainless steel bracelet or a black leather strap. Each of the four timepieces in this family is offered with a special presentation box which includes two additional straps – a “NATO” strap and a black Velcro strap. A tool to change the bracelets and instructions for how to do so are also included along with a Speedmaster loupe, a metal plate and a book highlighting the adventures of the Speedmaster. Today, the timepiece is powered by virtually the same hand-wound movement that powered the timepieces NASA’s astronauts wore on the Moon.
IWC SPITFIRE CHRONOGRAPH
During the pioneering days of aviation, most pilots had to navigate with the help of pocket watches. Wristwatches made especially for aviators were a rare occurrence. By contrast, the first Special Pilot’s Watch, built by IWC in 1936, came with a rugged glass, a rotating bezel with an arrowhead index for keeping track of short periods of time and an anti-magnetic escapement together with high-contrast, luminescent hands and numerals. As a tribute to the early 30’s Pilot’s watch, IWC created a revolutionary timepiece that had classic elegance and technological development as its hallmark. When the watch is tilted, the incident light falling onto the sun-pattern finish of the slate-coloured dial moves in circles. The dark colour of the dial and the date display in the form of an altimeter underscore the Spitfire’s classic instrument look. In 2012, the Spitfire Chronograph was equipped for the first time with the IWC-manufactured 89365 calibre. The subdial at “12 o’clock” shows the recorded minutes, while the seconds can be read off from the central hand. Thanks to the flyback function, an ongoing time measurement can be “deleted” without an intermediate stop and start.
PANERAI RADIOMIR COMPOSITE 3 DAYS
Panerai was the first watchmaker to supply high precision military timekeeping instruments to the Royal Italian Navy. To meet the military needs of professionals on duty, Officine Panerai created Radiomir, a radium-based powder that gives luminosity to the dials of sighting instruments and devices. The substance’s high visibility and the paint’s excellent underwater adhesive qualities immediately make the radium paste a key element in Officine Panerai’s production. On the eve of the Second World War, Panerai created the first prototype of a watch model now known as “Radiomir” for the frogman commandos of the First Submarine Group Command of the Royal Italian Navy. Today’s Radiomir retains many of the prototype’s features: a large, cushion-shaped steel case, luminescent numerals and indices, wire lugs welded to the case, a hand-wound mechanical movement, and a water-resistant strap long enough to be worn over a diving suit. The watch supports a running seconds display counter at 9 o’ clock for higher precision and is powered with a P.3000 hand winding mechanical movement with a power reserve of 3 days.
BREITLING TRANSOCEAN DAY & DATE
A specialist of technical aviation watches, Breitling has played a crucial role in the development of wristwatches and is a leader in crafting COSC certified chronometer complications. In 1958, Breitling accompanied the boom in air travel by launching an ultra-precise, anti-shock, anti-magnetic, super-water-resistant watch named Transocean. This self-winding model soon asserted itself as one of the brand’s top performers, endowed with all the expertise acquired in the service of aeronautics. As the advert ran at the time “Men who have faith in the mighty liners of the sky…will trust the Transocean. For behind every Breitling wristwatch lays the experience of aviation precision”. After more than 55 years in flight, the “contemporary classic” Transocean collection still reflects the spirit of travel. With its slim bevelled bezel, its slender lugs and its pure case housing a chronometer-certified self-winding movement, the Transocean Day & Date admirably reflects the same spirit of luxurious long-haul airliners.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic – a watch that has engraved its name in history by virtue of its unique and indelible precision and performance. The story of this exquisite watch goes back to 1958, when Jaeger-LeCoultre took part in the extraordinary adventure of the International Geophysical Year. It was in June 1957 that the question of ultra-technical watches was brought up. One of the members present at the meet suggested creating a watch that could resist all hazards, particularly in terms of water-resistance, anti-magnetism, etc. And so the Geophysic was born. In 2014, Jaeger-LeCoultre paid tribute to the timepiece by giving it a modern makeover. Under the hood lies the synthesis of the research and technical expertise of any Jaeger-LeCoultre watch. The Geophysic is driven by an automatic movement boasting tried and tested reliability and resistance in the most extreme conditions. It features a diameter of 38.5 mm, true to the design of the original model with a pure, highly legible dial, a fitting tribute to remarkable achievement.
LONGINES HERITAGE – LINDEBERG HOUR
There was a time when Longines timekeepers were not just accessories; they were used by explorers and adventurers during their memorable escapades. A company known for introducing designs that have changed the face of the watch making industry, the transatlantic flight was the inspiration behind the creation of this particular masterpiece.
The Lindberg Hour watch had been crafted by Longines with the helpful insights from Charles Lindberg, the first man to fly across the Atlantic, this watch has an interesting history of its own. The Hour Angle watch has an integral connection to an era when timepieces were tools and man relied on his wits to get from Point A to Point B. It is significant because it reminds us of a time, not even a century ago, when a man found his way using time and rotation of the Earth. The watch features a demarcated rotating bezel that allows for the equation of time, vital for an accurate calculation of longitude. Unique dial markings allow anyone to instantly tell his location by corresponding the time with the earth’s 360-degree rotation (the hour angle). Having the Lindeberg Hour your wrist would signify appreciation for the bygone era of self-exploration and adventure.
Breguet is a name familiar to every watch enthusiast thanks to its long list of royal patrons such as Napoleon, Marie-Antoinette, the Queen of Naples and King George IV. The roots of the brand date back to 1775 when Abraham Louis Breguet established his first workshop in Paris’ Ile de la Cité. From that workshop came some of the most path breaking inventions that the watch world had ever seen. Breguet innovations included the first tourbillon, the Breguet overcoil, the parachute antishock, guilloche dials, pomme hands. The watches crafted by the brand have been a symbol of excellence and precision till date.
Breguet Classique is one of the most iconic collections from the brand that has been inspired by Abraham Louis Breguet’s styling. Thus it epitomizes the watchmaking ideology of elegant and refined designs, clarity and accuracy. The timepiece comes in a distinctive 39mm rose gold case with a grand feu enamelled dial that is hand-engraved on a 18k rose gold engine. The Classique Moon Phase watch has central hour, minute and seconds hands, as well as two complications: a moon phase at 12 o’clock and a power-reserve indicator at 3 o’clock. The power reserve is displayed by an elongated hand, which lends legibility and elegance. The watch contains the Breguet Calibre 591 DRL, a self-winding mechanical movement only 3.02 mm thick, making it the thinnest in its class.
By Neha Chadha
Contributing Editor, The Watch Guide
With a keen interest in the art and science behind Haute Horology, Neha oversees the creative and content for Ethoswatches.com.