The vintage watch market is stronger than it has ever been, fueled by the popularity of watch auctions, the presence of pre-owned sections in major retailers and a general appreciation for the designs. Watch companies have responded by introducing “vintage-inspired” modern watches, combining timeless designs that evoke bygone eras with the latest features and functions, and modern reliability.
The best of these watches make a subtle statement—showing your great taste while wearing a state-of-the-art timepiece that has all the latest watchmaking technology inside…and a modern-day warranty.
BELL & ROSS BR 123 GOLDEN HERITAGE
Bell & Ross has taken its overall brand aesthetic from vintage watches, airplane cockpit gauges and more. Drawing from the elegant timepieces of the 1940s, Bell & Ross has introduced the BR 123 Golden Heritage. Powered by an automatic movement, this 43mm stainless steel timepiece offers just what you need—hours, minutes and seconds—and nothing more. $3,500, Bellross.com
ZENITH HERITAGE PILOT TON-UP
Inspired by the British Café Racer culture of the 1960s, the Heritage Pilot Ton-Up from Zenith is a great looking watch. The “ton” was hitting 100 mph, quite an accomplishment back then, and this 45mm aged-stainless steel chronograph will look good on your wrist whether you are riding your 1960 Triumph T100, flying your vintage Spitfire or just walking to work. The movement inside is the famous Zenith El Primero, the peak of modern watchmaking, while the vintage-looking pushers, large crown and cool looking numbers complete the picture. $7,100, Zenithwatches.com
RALPH LAUREN RL AUTOMOTIVE 45MM BLACK STEEL
Ralph Lauren, the man, has what is widely considered to be the finest collection of vintage cars in the world. Back in 2011, he decided to mine this treasure trove for inspiration, and the result is the Ralph Lauren Automotive Collection. This year, the brand introduced a special timepiece inspired by Mr. Lauren’s award-winning 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe. A key detail, and a first in watchmaking, is the striking amboyna burl wood bezel, a touch borrowed from the luxurious interior of the Bugatti. $14,000, Ralphlaurenwatches.com
ALPINA SEASTRONG DIVER HERITAGE
Introduced in 1969, the Seastrong diver’s watch was groundbreaking for the Alpina brand and for the watch industry in general. Though SCUBA diving was in its infancy then, the original Seastrong already met the demanding technical restraints needed for diving.
This year, Alpina updates this milestone with the Seastrong Diver Heritage. Modernized for today, the inner-rotating bezel timepiece, still operated by the crown at 2 o’clock, has a distinctly vintage feel, while the watch is completely modern, increased in size to 42mm and water resistant to 300 meters. The triangle, Alpina’s signature, graces the dial at 12 o’clock, while the large arrow-shaped minute hand speaks of its professional diving roots. $1,695, Alpina-watches.com
RALF TECH WRV AUTOMATIC 1977 ‘PARISIENNE’
Ralf Tech is a French company that specializes in diving watches, eschewing anything that doesn’t serve this purpose. The new WRV V Automatic 1977 “Parisienne” is inspired by dive watches from the mid-1970s and is water resistant to 200 meters. $2,250, Ralftechamerica.com