When it comes to fashion, some things are timeless, certain others are cyclical, and a few others fleeting. Ageless fashion has amazing staying power, whether it is because of the design, pedigree, legacy, rarity, or a combination of these. There are vintage watches that fall into this category of enduring elegance. Vintage watches never went out of style, and for good reason. Vintage timepieces are inherently supply-limited. Due to the proliferation of the digital environment around us, there is renewed interest in ‘classic’ design features and a longing for the ‘good old times’. If you’re looking to invest in a vintage watch, or simply want to know what watches are trending right now, read on for some insights. You don’t even have to leave your chair!
What is a Vintage Watch?
Typically, watches made before 1980 are considered vintage pieces. Vintage Watches have many categories: They can be military watches, diving watches, chronographs, dress watches aka time only, GMT, World Timers, Triple Date, Moon Complication, Split Seconds, Minute Repeater, Annual calendar, Perpetual calendar, Alarm, or even pocket watches! Some of the well-known vintage brands include Breitling, Bulova, Girard-Perregaux, Hamilton, Heuer, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, Omega, Rolex, Tissot, Tudor, Wittnauer and Zodiac.
While many of these watches were invented to serve a purpose – such as diving watches for commercial and Navy use to note depth, time of dive, to help extend dive and much more. Chronographs for keeping time for racecar drivers and pilots, alarm watches was used by president, 14/18 K gold dress watches for an evening at the Opera, etc. – meticulous efforts were put into the design and manufacturing of their components. This attention to detail is what makes vintage watches everlasting, both functionally and aesthetically.
In addition to telling the story of their designers and watch makers, vintage watches carry with them a narrative of their owner or owners. There is character layered on top of their pedigree which makes each vintage watch unique in the world.
Why are Vintage Watches Popular now?
Demand for vintage watches has always been there, which is important to keep in mind.
To begin with, there is continued appreciation for classic design. The more things change, people are increasingly interested in things that represent agelessness. Digital timepieces have revolutionized what can be done with less than 4 square inches of real estate on one’s wrist; however, there is a sense of certainty and beauty associated with mechanically driven hands sweeping around a dial and the quiet tick-tock of the movement. Vintage watches are perfect examples of classic design done right.
Given this interest in vintage designs, many manufacturers have been re-issuing classic watches which has further buoyed the vintage watch market. While designs can be recreated, it is impossible to breathe the history and personality into these modern remakes!
Trends with Vintage watches
When people think of vintage watches, they often think of expensive timepieces that are difficult to find and can cost a lot of money. However, there are now a few trendier vintage watch brands available that are much more affordable and accessible. In fact, some of the most popular Vintage watch brands today include Omega, Heuer, Breitling, Longines and Rolex.
One of the main reasons why Vintage watches are so popular right now is because they have a timeless appeal. They look classic and elegant, which is something that is still relevant today even though fashion trends change frequently. Additionally, Vintage watches tend to be more reliable than newer models, which is an important factor for some people.
Another reason why Vintage watches are appealing right now is that they can be used in a variety of different ways. For example, they can be worn as traditional timepieces, or they can be used as fashion accessories. In addition, Vintage watches can also be used as reminders of special occasions or moments in someone's life.
Types of Watch Movements
There are a few different types of movements in watches – manual, semi-automatic, automatic, quartz analog, to name a few.
Manual watches are most common. As the name indicates, these need to be manually wound periodically to make the watch operational. Automatic watches convert the motion of the wearer’s arm into rotational energy that winds the movement. Most, if not all, automatic watches can also be wound manually.
Quartz watches rely on the vibrations from a quartz crystal to move the internal mechanism. A battery is used to ‘power’ the quartz crystal – electrical energy from the battery is converted to very accurate mechanical vibrations which are then fed to a motor that creates the movement of the hands. Quartz analog watches are generally very accurate and relatively unaffected by environmental conditions. As many of the complex mechanical components are absent in quartz analog watches, they can be relatively light and slim fitting. They do require periodic battery replacement.
In addition to the watch movement, watch case-backs can provide a window into the artistry and design of watches. Case-backs can be plain, can display a fancy medal or be transparent to showcase the jewels, gears, and exquisite workmanship.
Watching those Complications!
Any feature on a watch’s display in addition to the display of hours/minutes/seconds is called a complication. Complications can be as simple as displaying date, day/date to significantly elaborate complications that show the phase of the moon or even how much time is left on your parking meter! These complications enable special functions and serve a purpose.
While these complications add to the complexity of the design and fabrication of the watch, they can serve as excellent topics of conversation among watch enthusiasts and lay people, alike! It is hard not to admire the genius in the design and the skill required to assemble watches with multiple complications!! No surprise that these are highly sought after.
How to Choose a Vintage Watch
Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a vintage watch:
- First and foremost, think about your own style. Do you prefer vintage watches that are classic and chic, or ones with more of a funky edge?
- Second, consider how much money you want to spend. Prices for vintage watches can span quite a range. It is important to find one that fits your budget.
- Third, think about the features you need in a watch. Do you want a quartz or mechanical watch? Are you looking for a Stainless Steel or Gold Watch?
- Lastly, consider the condition of the watch and the reputation of the seller. You may benefit from talking with local vintage watch collectors and enthusiasts. They can refer you to reliable sellers and help with your selection.
Vintage watches have always been a popular choice for people who want to dress up their outfits or add an extra touch of luxury. As vintage watches are timeless and supply limited, they are expected to appreciate, or, at a minimum, hold value. Vintages with more complications are in demand due to the artistry in craftmanship and nostalgia. Precious metal (14+K gold) dress watches are always in season. Brands are remaking and re-releasing vintage models due to market demand which is creating a market for true vintages due to increased market visibility and renewed brand awareness.
We also have a Vintage Watch Guild.