Its been a while since we made a list of chronographs, and even longer for one which is vintage inspired. So here we go, six of the coolest vintage inspired chronographs.
Six of the coolest vintage inspired chronographs
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.Ecclesiastes 1:9
So it is in the watch world. What was old is new again. The trend for vintage inspired watches marches on as strong as ever. The maisons continue to return to their past, find inspiration and renew the heroes of the day.
Underd0g Strawberries and Cream (GBP 575 / EUR 600 / USD 675)
We begin by almost breaking the definition of vintage inspired. Here is a watch which is not really vintage inspired in its design. But one which uses a vintage inspired movement. But what a cute, interesting, fresh, cheerful watch from the tiny independent who calll themselves Underd0g. So how could we resist this small English (so quirky be definition) company, comprising of a staff of exactly one -the founder and owner, Richard Benc. We find that not only is the design very interesting, and playful to the max, the movement is a beautifully laid out one, which is a serious attempt to recreate the legendary Venus Caliber 175..
To meet the frankly very affordable price point, the movement is sourced from China, and is the Seagull ST-1901. Nothing wrong with a China made movement and we applaud Richard for being completely transparent in stating that.
Hanhart 417 ES (EUR 1,445)
Designed as a pilot’s chronograph for the German armed forces in the mid 1950s, these were available in a chrome plated brass case known as the 417, and in a stainless steel case – the 417 ES. ES for edelstahl, meaning stainless steel in German. The original 417 was powered with an in-house column wheel chronograph – the caliber 41. The few remaining pieces of these original 417 and 417 ES have become some of the most sought after vintage chronographs from Germany. Steve McQueen is famously been known to sport the 417 ES, and that on its own qualifies it for almost any cool list.
The new 417 ES is a very close adaptation to the original. And this means that it is very nicely designed, well thought out watch. Build quality is excellent, and the vintage vibes, especially the period correct design with the box shaped crystal and the cream hue of the hands and numerals add to its charm. The moderate thickness is a bonus and the watch wears very nicely and comfortably, even though the 42mm case diameter might suggest that is may be too large for modest wrists.
Here is another small independent, bringing to live a stash of the NOS Landeron 248 to live in a design which is vintage inspired. The movement is a historically important caliber from the 1960s. It is cam operated chronograph movement and a member of the Landeron Caliber 48 has seen a long and illustrious history, being in production from about 1910. The Caliber 248 has seen service in the 1960s by many brands, including by Heuer-Leonidas, Nevada, and Ardath.
Méraud, a Belgian maker uses this iconic movement in their new Antigua, with a series in two dial variations of 100 pieces each. The variants are known as the Miho with its black dial, and Soft Sand with a creamy dial. We are awaiting review samples for us to do our comprehensive review, so more of this when we get the watches in.
Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph (EUR 3,200)
Seiko is no stranger to re-issues. In fact, many have accused them, rather astutely in our opinion, of having too many reissues. All year round, our mailbox is full of one re-issue after another from the prodigious Japanese maker. Some are absolutely gems. Others not so much. This one is a keeper.
This is a significant watch that Seiko is paying homage to. The original Speedtimer, which they introduced in May 1969, is one of the 3 chronographs which have legitimate claim to be the the world’s first automatic chronograp. The year was 1969- and the Speedtimer, together with Zenith and a Swiss group of collaborators known as Chronomatic, the automatic wrist chronograph was born. This was an exciting race, which resulted in 3 legit claims. 1969 was also interesting as it was also the race for the world’s first quartz movement – also one with multiple legit claims, but that is another story for another day.
The watch which we have chosen is the special edition created for the World Athletics Championship 2022. And while not a faithful recreation of the original Speedtimer, this watch is a rather good re-interpretation. The case is enlarged. The movement fitted is a modern Caliber 8R46, which, like the Caliber 6139 used in the original 1969 Speedtimer, incorporates vertical clutch and column wheel mechanism
TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary Edition (SGD 10,400 )
It was back to the future for TAG Heuer for LVMH Watch Week 2023. A magnificent release throwing back to the heydays of the Heuer Carrera, to the origins to celebrate the model’s 60th anniversary. Jack had learned of Mexico’s dangerous and short-lived Carrera Panamerica road race in 1962 when he met with the Rodigruez brothers at the 12 hours of Sebring, and was inspired to use the name for a wrist-worn chronograph.
And thus, the Carrera chronograph was created by Jack Heuer in 1963, and has become the wristwatch chronograph genre’s poster boy for decades. Today, this design language is seen as classic, elegant, and stylish. This first generation Carerra Ref. 2447 SN had a hand-wound Valjoux chronograph movement, with either a silver or black dial in a variety of configurations, sometimes with the addition of a scale around the dial periphery. At the end of the 1960s, a second series was added to the line-up with either a silvered dial and black subdials, or the other way around, known respectively as ‘panda’ and ‘reverse panda’. And for this latest, TAG takes the high road and does not re-invent the classic good looks of the original 2447 SN, but retains the look and feel as much as is possible with a modern movement within. The upgrades are rather nice too. The Carrera SN now has automatic winding with a practically long 80 hour reserve, and one which is proven to be reliable and dependable in the field.
Zenith El Primero A384 1969 Revival (USD 8,200)
In this reissue, Zenith nailed it. And all they had to do was to revive a past great icon. The Zenith A384 is a truly exciting piece to see homaged. And given the trend of smaller case sizes, they dispensed with the need to modernize the case and reissued the original 37 mm 1969 case. Since the revival, we have seen several limited edition iterations, with cosmetic variations of this truly iconic watch. A lesson out of the Speedmaster playbook but it works, and fortunately so, for vintage Zenith fans.
From concept, to very restrained design, to the execution, this is an absolute home run!
So there you have it. Unlike many of our lists which are done in a random order, this one is in order of increasing prices. But not in terms of increasing favour…in fact we love all six, and depending on budget, you too can indulge in a bit of a vintage chronograph. Which of these do you fancy? Or do you have one which we have missed?