You’d think the interest in vintage watches would have finally begun to die down or at least waver a little. But as sales of luxury vintage watch brands show, interest is growing — and there’s no signs its slowing down.
Safe to say, then, vintage watches are not a fleeting trend or market bubble that’s soon about to pop. What attracts people to them clearly runs a lot deeper than fashion or style; they have something that newer timepieces simply can’t compete with and that an Apple watch could never replace — no matter how smart it gets.
To find out what makes them so special, let’s dive into three of the biggest reasons why luxury vintage watches will never go out of style.
1. They tell time and your status
Ever since the trench watch was first designed and worn by military officers, the wrist watch has been a symbol of status and power.
The type of watch you had was associated with your rank and responsibilities among your comrades, and the manufacturer you bought from was more representative to your ideologies and the message you wanted to give out.
Today, watches are less functional and telling of our political motives, but they still carry all the same of weight of importance and utility. Choosing a vintage pilot or dive watch may communicate that you have a knowledge and interest in aviation or aquatics. And if you buy a vintage watch from a brand that’s steeped in history, well, the name speaks for itself.
2. They don’t make them like they used to
A luxury vintage watch is a tool as much as it is a piece of art. And ever since brands such as Rolex strived for high-quality design and functionality, vintage watches have been synonymous with skill and craftsmanship.
In fact, Rolex is one of the most successful vintage watch brands precisely because their focus has always been so firmly on their movements. In 1910, it was the first wristwatch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision.
Today, there are a plethora of watchmakers known for their craftsmanship, from Omega and Breitling to Beguet and Patek Phillipe. Patek is especially known for their use of high quality materials and its intricate designs that can take years to construst. In 2010, one of its most complex luxury vintage watches from 1944 sold at auction for a record-breaking $5.6 million (£4.4 million).
3. They come with bags of history
For a man, other than adorning a necklace or a vintage jacket, there’s no better way to wear a piece of history than with a luxury vintage watch.
Watches in general have had a rich and interesting life — from their role in the war period to their place in sporting and space exploration. It’s no surprise then that individually, many have incredibly rich and interesting stories to tell.
For instance, when prisoners of war who had their watches taken away from them on imprisonment, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf had special timepieces made so they could continue their duties. One recently came up at auction that was made for Gerald Imeson, an RAF pilot who was imprisoned at the notorious Stalag Luft III camp — made famous in the 1963 film The Great Escape. The watch fetched £165,000, significantly more than it would have if it didn’t have such a rich story.