We love vintage watches. Surprise!
We have waxed poetic about the elements of design that inspire us to choose a vintage timepiece over a modern one many times before – and will continue to do so. However, we will admit that there are times when vintage wristwatches aren’t the best choice, such as when scuba diving, mountaineering, or working in a rough environment. At times, something more modern and robust is required.
While many might simply select a cheap digital watch such as a Casio G-Shock to perform these duties, we wouldn’t be caught dead wearing some hunk of battery-powered plastic. We’re just too stylish for that. Fortunately for us, modern “homage” models from a number of respectable high-end manufacturers have been released.
These timepieces are designed to evoke the spirit and aesthetic of their forebears, but have increased reliability, shock resistance, and water resistance than the originals. In short, they are a great way to carry on the vintage look without worrying about damaging a collector’s item. Here are three of our favorites from the past few years:
Tudor Heritage Chronograph Blue:
Tudor Heritage Chronograph Blue 2013
Tudor’s new Chronograph Blue is the latest in their line of Heritage timepieces, and evokes the spirit of the original Monte Carlo Chronographs from the 1970s brilliantly. The watch features a Rolex style Oyster case, stunning multicolored dial, and a chronograph mechanism powered by the robust ETA 2892 automatic winding movement. Met with near-universal acclaim after its reveal at BaselWorld in April, American buyers are already lining up to get one when the brand makes its formal return to the USA later this year.
IWC Ingenieur 40mm:
IWC Ingenieur Automatic
Released by IWC this past January at SIHH, the impressive new Ingenieur collection features a dozen or so new models to the storied line. Most of the pieces in the collection are on the large side and feature a number of complications, but the simplest and smallest model is our favorite. The 40mm piece is a tribute design to Gerald Genta’s original 1976 Ingenieur SL. The new Ingy features a robust automatic movement, a killer integrated bracelet and has magnetic resistance to 40,000 amperes. For anyone working in an environment with strong magnetic fields, this is the watch to wear.
Jaeger LeCoultre Tribute To Deep Sea Alarm:
The original Deep Sea Alarm from the late 1950s was a revolutionary timepiece in that it was the first diver’s watch to feature an alarm function audible underwater. Produced in limited numbers, originals are incredibly rare finds and are sought after by collectors worldwide – but the Jaeger LeCoultre Tribute model released two years ago has all of its great looks combined with modern internals which make it an instant classic in its own right. We wouldn’t hesitate to take the Tribute with us on our next diving trip.
All of these timepieces feature the necessary elements of modern wristwatch design to perform duties beyond what their vintage counterparts are capable of, and they also look terrific while doing it. Of course, at the end of the day we’d still swap it off for the vintage model as soon as we shed our wetsuit.
Words by: James Lamdin - A vintage watch connoisseur and founder of analog/shift, an online boutique for a curated selection of exceptional wristwatches.