Thursday, September 24

Throwback Sundays: Six Recommendations for Vintage Reissue Watches, from Our Archives (Part 3)

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Over the last few years, we have seen many watch manufacturers launching vintage reissue watches. These watches are based on pieces that were found in their archives throughout their long and illustrious history, and they are seemingly popular with many collectors these days – new and seasoned alike.

We have covered 12 different vintage reissues on this column previously, especially since they were written during the period where there were tremendous interests in such timepieces. The articles are separated into two parts: Part 1, and Part 2. We highly recommend reader to peruse through those articles as well.

For this week, we shall take a look at more vintage reissue watches that have surfaced over the last few years. What have we selected this time round?

Rado Captain Cook

We begin the article with a timepiece that had attracted some attention in the past few months. Cue the Rado Captain Cook.

Launched in Baselworld 2017, the Captain Cook is a reminiscence of the vintage divers’ watches that Rado had produced in the 1960s. Responses were a little lukewarm, possibly with the smaller case profile at 37.5mm when it was first introduced.

More recently in 2019, Rado had expanded the collection with the introduction of three different dial variants in 42mm cases. One of them is in green, which we thought was the best amongst the novelties. We particularly like the shade of green that Rado had chosen for the watch. Its sunburst dial provides a different appearance under different lighting conditions, which adds a rather nice touch to it. It also works brilliantly with the classic design of the Captain Cook.

The watch is fitted with a modest ETA C07. It is a self-winding movement, which comes with a date indicator and features a decent power reserve of around 80 hours. It is well-priced at S$2,800, and we reckon this is a great alternative to the other diver’s watch especially since green dials are highly in demand right now (and it is around a quarter of the price tag of the Rolex equivalent – the Submariner “Hulk”).

Seiko Diver’s SLA017

We know that we’ve previously featured a Seiko Diver’s watch in the last instalment of this series. But how can you resist the Seiko Diver’s SLA017, also known as the 62MAS Reissue?

Based on the first Seiko diver’s watch, the SLA017 is certainly a wonderful and clean looking timepiece. The 39.9mm timepiece looks identical to its original version, with a clean and timeless design that had certainly stood the test of time. Interesting characteristics of the timepiece includes the domed sapphire crystal, case shape, as well as the design of the indices. Similarly, they give us a glimpse of the 1960s, and we are pleasantly surprised by how relevant these elements still look today.

The SLA017 is fitted with Seiko’s Caliber 8L35, which is seen on their high-end pieces such as the Marinemaster 300 and the Emperor Tuna series. It is often touted that this is the undecorated version of Grand Seiko’s 9S55. The self-winding watch features a decent power reserve of around 50 hours, and it comes with a date indicator at the 3 o’clock position. The recommended retail price for this piece is €3,800 (approximately S$6,060), and it is limited to 2,000 pieces. While its price might be slightly steeper than the usual entry-level pieces, but we reckon its finishing and quality makes up for the premium. This is a must-have for any Seiko collectors!

TAG Heuer Monza

When it comes to racing, TAG Heuer is probably one of the most recognised watch manufacturers to be associated with it. After all, most of their watches are inspired by motor racing, and it is apparent from the names of their watch collections as well. For instance, Monza, Monaco, and Silverstone were names of famous race tracks, and they were coincidentally the names for some of the collections in TAG Heuer’s repertoire.

While the Monaco, with its association with Steve McQueen, is one of the most popular watches, but we feel that we should highlight another interesting piece from the brand: Monza. The timepiece, which was first launched in 1975, was a special watch that was specially created to commemorate Niki Lauda’s first world championship title with Ferrari. The rest, as they say, is history.

Featuring an uncommon coussin case, the Monza was actually inspired by a timepiece in 1925. The new watch, launched in Baselworld 2016, comes with some nice touches. This includes the pulsometer and tachymeter scale, an all-black PVD case, as well as original fonts and markings on the dial. The watch is fitted with the Calibre 17, which is an automatic movement based on the ETA 2894.

The watch is priced at US$5,250 (approximately S$7,495), and we would say that this is probably one of our favourite reissues from TAG Heuer. Definitely a worthy piece to collect, especially if you are a big fan of motor sports during its heydays in the 60s and 70s.

Zenith El Primero A384 1969 Revival

Perhaps the most underrated amongst mechanical chronograph watches, the El Primero has the honour of being the world’s first automatic integrated column wheel chronograph that was ever created – back in 1969.

This drove Zenith to produce a special limited edition timepiece to commemorate this historically significant icon in the horological world. The A384 Revival features a rather interesting and palatable 37mm case, which is unlike any other watches that we have seen after the 1970s. In addition, this watch is also fitted with a special ladder bracelet. The entire package gives the Revival a rather nice vintage touch, without having to compromise on dimensions and the relatively fragile movement that typically accompanies such older watches.

Tagged with a retail price of US$8,200 (approximately S$11,708), the A384 1969 Revival is a remake that ticks most of the correct boxes. If you’d like to have an El Primero in your collection, we think that this might just be one of the best options around right now.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC

Next up, we have the grand-daddy of the modern diver’s watch: Blancpain Fifty Fathom. While they were definitely not the first to make a timepiece that is capable of going underwater, but Blancpain can pride itself for several important innovations. This includes the now widely-used unidirectional bezel, which is the hallmark of almost all diver’s watch.

The Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC is the modern interpretation of the original timepiece. There are several nice touches for this timepiece, such as the domed sapphire crystal, water-tightness humidity indicator, and the luminescence-filled unidirectional bezel. While the watch is only 40mm in diameter, but its bulky looks make it appear larger than it is. It is certainly an appealing watch.

Priced at S$19,500, the Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathom MIL-SPEC is a tad pricier than most of the diver’s watches out there today. However, the watch – which is fitted with an in-house automatic movement with a 4 day power reserve – is definitely a notch above the rest. This watch is also limited to a production of 500 pieces. If one is looking for an exclusive and interesting diver’s watch, the Blancpain might just be the answer to that.

Audemars Piguet [Re]master01

The Audemars Piguet [Re]master01, which was launched last week, is the timepiece that inspired the third instalment of this series. Arguably, this is one of the more recent Audemars Piguet watches that had attracted the attention of many collectors in recent times.

One of the rarest complications in the world of vintage Audemars Piguet watches are its chronographs. Between the 1930s to 1950s, it was reported that there were only 307 units being made by the venerable watch manufacturer. The [Re]master01, notably, is a faithful reproduction of the pre-model 1533 (made in 1943). Some interest features includes the teardrop lugs, thin-bezel, and a two-tone case construction with a pink gold bezel and stainless steel case. The gold dial is also a hallmark of the old chronographs as well.

Powering the [Re]master01 is the Calibre 4409 – a self-winding movement that boasts a power reserve of around 70 hours. It is well-finished, and it is additionally fitted with a matching 22-carat pink gold oscillating weight that is decorated with Clous de Paris – a traditional decoration technique used since the 1950s by Audemars Piguet.

The watch is priced at a princely sum of S$74,400, and it is limited to a production of 500 pieces. The [Re]master01 is almost perfect for what it is, and we would certainly love to see what else Audemars Piguet can offer under this new [Re]master collection.

Concluding Thoughts

It is not difficult to see the appeal of vintage reissue watches. We like how some of these watches look, and more importantly, they are certainly more robust and capable than the watches of the yesteryear. It is certainly having the best of both worlds.

However, there is a drawback. We do hope that manufacturers will not rely too much on these vintage reissue watches. Sure, they may be popular. But this is going down a slippery slope. An over-reliance on such watches may potentially hinder any form of innovation and new design languages, and this can be detrimental to the company and the entire industry as a whole. Brands should focus on creating new designs and collections as well, in tandem with these vintage reissues.

We do hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s column on vintage reissues. Let us know your thoughts on this genre of watches, and we do hope that you can share with us some of your favourite watches from this category as well. Ciao!

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