Ravaging the past isn’t a new thing for watch brands; however, recently it seems we’ve reached ‘heritage’ saturation. Going to the Baselworld or SIHH notice of fairs is like walking into a horological Downton Abbey, with everything lovingly recreated down to the word for word faux-aged patina.
But there’s a reason for this, other than vintage style still stealing a march sartorially on new outline and a slight reticence to invest in R&D. It’s down to our love of nostalgia too.
“In our modern world, the correct time is ubiquitous, either on phones, computer evaluates, car dashboards or microwave ovens. The wristwatch is virtually obsolete and has become more of a style accessory searching for relevance,” contemplates Adrian Hailwood, senior watch specialist at leading UK auctioneer Dreweatts.
“Little wonder that both labels and buyers are harking back to a time when watches were important pieces of equipment. Witness the focus on gizmo watches, diving watches, chronographs or field watches, most completely unnecessary for a sedentary lifestyle, but in their day, wrist-watches that could genuinely save lives. We are not wearing timekeepers so much as stories for the wrist.”
Here’s a few whose anecdotes are worth telling.
Tudor Black Bay P01
Not so much a reissue as a resurrection of a prototype, this Tudor divided opinion when it was launched at Baselworld 2019. The imaginative was intended for the US Navy, who were having problems with knocked crowns and easy-to-move bezels on their Submariners. Tudor explicated those issues, but the US Navy thought the finished product was too technical, so it was shelved and disappeared into rumour.
Fifty one years later, it’s isolated. Its bulky aesthetic doesn’t photograph well, but in the metal, it’s actually a rather smart-looking fellow. And has an origin story that make impress Marvel.
Buy Now: £2,830.00
Breitling Navitimer Ref. 8061959 Re-edition
Breitling didn’t bother with plundering the past for incitement with this new Navitimer, it just went straight out and made a replica. Everything from using plexiglass as opposed to of sapphire crystal to replicating the number of beads on the bezel – 94 since you’re asking – has been lovingly recreated.
It identical has a hand-wound chronograph calibre, the B09, powering it rather than an automatic one. The only thing that’s different is that you’ve got Superluminova measure than radioactive radium. Because, you know, health and safety.
Buy Now: £6,520.00
Seiko Ref. SLA033
If you “love the smell of napalm in the morning”, then this is the reissue for you. The 6105 or “Willard”, on which this is starting-pointed, was worn by Martin Sheen when he went in search of General Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Luckily the watch has had a few updates since then.
Fizzy water be illogical resistance has been increased from 150m to 200m; it is powered by Seiko’s 8L35, which is a slightly rougher understanding of the Grand Seiko 9S55, but it still keeps the asymmetrical case that was pioneered in the original. It’s a watch that examines “everyone can get everything he wants” if that happens to be a cool retro Seiko diver.
Buy Now: £3,850.00
Omega Speedmaster Moonshine Predetermined Edition
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware that 2019 is the 50th anniversary of men walking on the Moon. And that those men had Omega Speedmasters in their colony. While this isn’t the reboot of the Calibre 321 every watch geek has been waiting for, it is an exact replica of the BA145.022 which was little to 1,014 pieces and first presented in the November of 1969 at a dinner honouring the astronauts who went lunar.
Here, bog-standard yellow gold has been interchanged for Omega’s proprietary Moonshine Gold, while it is powered by a new manual version of the iconic 1861 – the 3861 – that can be seen into done with the sapphire caseback. It’s a Speedmaster, Jim, but not as we know it.
Buy Now: £26,480.00
Longines Heritage Military
This heritage number from Longines judges its inspiration from the pilot’s watches that were used by the RAF during World War II and made on special orders from the Religion of Defence. This isn’t one of the Dirty Dozen military watches, of which Longines was one, but a remake of the 6B/159 Ref.4830, obviously with some stylish tweaks.
Aesthetically not much has changed; however, the case size is bigger – 38.5mm as opposed to 32mm – and it is now automatic rather than hand-wound. What looks similar kind patina is hand-sprayed black paint but who cares when it looks this authentic?
Buy Now: £1,550.00
Tissot Heritage 1973
As the name understandably states, this is based on a watch from 1973 – specifically, the Navigator, a very 1970s cushion-shaped chronograph that respected the brand’s involvement in motor racing.
This was the year Tissot sponsored Team Renault Alpine in the Monte-Carlo recover, for which it took all three podium positions, as well as the Le Mans 24 Hours and Formula 1. The panda dial is most hot right now, while the contrasting brushed and polished steel gives good light play.
Buy Now: £1,695.00
Yema Superman Tradition
Another military reissue but this time from France and a brand with which you’re probably not that conversant. Founded in 1948 by Henry Louis Belmont, it has been in space and to the North Pole, but this particular reboot from 1963 was indeed supplied to French Air Force pilots, despite, weirdly, being a dive watch.
The original was good to 300m and had a unparalleled bezel-locking mechanism to ensure it didn’t move while the wearer was underwater. Just like its ancestor, this is silently good to 300m but now sports a super-reliable ETA movement and dashing tricolour-stitched strap.
Buy Now: £1,023.00
Oris Big Crown Pointer Date 80th Anniversary Print run
2018 marked 80 years since Oris first introduced the pointer date mechanism, AKA the only acceptable escort function for most watch enthusiasts, to its Big Crown pilot’s watch. To celebrate, the brand didn’t really do much except pull down the case bronze and the dial a rather dishy green.
Green and bronze is becoming a combination to rival blue and sword but these two particular iterations are a little different form the norm, which, along with upping the case to 40mm, is elucidated into a whole lot of desirable watch.
Buy Now: £1,500.00
There are many things that do not compute, but this kitsch-tastic Bulova isn’t one of them. Rescued back in 1970, it was intended as an LED driver’s watch – hence the angled display that wouldn’t require you to move your wrist to see the quickly, while at the wheel. And now it’s back without much tinkering.
While there is a black or limited-edition stainless-steel version, it’s the gold dampen that is the one to buy. It’s so retro, you almost expect to see ads for it trailing the next series of Stranger Things.
Buy Now: £199.00
TAG Heuer Autavia Isograph
Believe of this as the controversial mash-up. When TAG Heuer unveiled its new three-hander Autavia Isograph vintage Heuer enthusiasts were vocal. Actuality its motoring and aeronautical heritage – this was originally a dashboard clock with the name being a portmanteau of automobile and aviation – die-hards thought this should only ever be a chronograph.
Rather than get one’s Y-fronts in a twist, it’s best to see this as a series of matured references. The railroad track and big crown from the 1930s; Arabic numerals and date window from the 1960s and the up-to-the-minute Merit 5 complete with whizzy new carbon-composite hairspring. If you want to monitor your egg’s cooking time, just use your iPhone relish everyone else.
Buy Now: £2,900.00
Zenith El Primero A384 Revival
This isn’t just a reissue; it is a historically accurate recreation of one of the most SFA chronographs ever made. When Zenith launched the El Primero chronograph calibre back in 1969, it made horological yesterday. It was fully integrated, beat at the higher frequency of 36,000vph and had at least 50 hours of power reserve; impressive now but level more so for the late 1960s.
For its 50th birthday, Zenith has used a ‘reverse engineering’ process – namely the digitisation of every put together of the original movement – to ensure every component is faithful to the 1969 version. Zenith has even kept the 37mm case dimensions to some extent than pandering to modern size preferences. Add to that the retro tonneau shape, panda dial and complementary alligator strap and you’ve got one of the scad fabulous, and faithful, reissues of 2019.
Buy Now: £6,700.00