Let’s face it, vintage reissues are nothing new. The trend has has been alive and kicking for years, yet unlike other trends in watchmaking it is one that very few of us are getting sick of. Vintage reissues (when done right) pay tribute to much loved watches of years past, packed with modern advancements in movement design, materials, and other niceties.
Note-Worthy Vintage Tribute Watches
Each year seems to yield a fresh batch of these old-meets-new masterpieces, and while some can seem a bit tired, the majority are consistently some of the most coveted releases of any given year. Looking at the fresh crop for 2018, there’s a fair bit to choose from, as there were a number of significant anniversaries for specific brands or models this year. Of this diverse pack, we narrowed down our selection to eight particularly praise-worthy gems.
Omega Seamaster 1948 Limited Editions
70 years after the birth of the first Omega Seamaster, the brand has unveiled a very faithful reissue in a pair of models for 2018. Both featuring silver domed dials, applied indices, and classically styled cases that accurately replicate their predecessors. Measuring 38mm across, the key differentiation between the two models its the indication of running seconds, with one using a central hand and the other a subdial located at 6 o’clock. What remains common between the duo is level of technical advancement packed into the pieces; being both being Chronometer-certified, and boasting a magnetic resistance of up to 15,000 gauss. Fittingly, the two watches are limited in production to 1948 examples each.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox
Fifty years after the birth of the first Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox—the first and one of the only diving alarm watches ever created, we saw the unveiling of a comprehensive Polaris collection hit the market at SIHH this year. While it also contained everything from a simple 3-hand watch through to a world time chronograph, the hero piece is the return of the Memovox itself. Measuring 42mm across and a fairly chunky 15.9mm thick, the new release is otherwise quite faithful to the original. A central disc indicates the set alarm time, an internal rotating bezel can be used for timing, and a date window at 3 o’clock are all designed to mirror the vintage example, not to mention the use of three crowns to control all of its functions. Also like its predecessor, the new model is being limited to only 1,000 examples being produced.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 25th Anniversary
Generally considered ahead of its time, the Royal Oak Offshore was one of a few watches that really fueled the sizable trend of larger wristwatches in the industry. After 25 years in the market we’ve seen countless iterations of the Offshore come and go, but in celebration of its quarter century Audemars Piguet has created a 1:1 reproduction of that first groundbreaking model. The story of the original Offshore is an interesting one to say the least. Penned by Emmanuel Gueit (also known for creating the Rolex Cellini), it’s said that Gerald Genta—creator of the original Royal Oak—burst into the booth at Baselworld cursing AP’s brass for letting his design be “ruined” by Gueit. Unlike many other watches from the ‘90s, the first Offshore has aged quite well, and looks just as (if not more) appealing now as it was back in the day.
Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver
Bulova has come a long ways in reestablishing itself within the watch collector and enthusiast community in recent years by launching a series of vintage reissues. That said, this latest example—the beloved “Devil Diver”—is the new pinnacle of this series, paying tribute to the many vintage divers launched by the brand in the ‘70s whose dials were stamped with the depth rating of 666 feet. This specific model is based off of the Oceanographer Devil Diver from 1972, and it is an interesting crossover between vintage aesthetics and modern convention. Unlike many other vintage reissues its case size has been increased substantially, up to 44mm, but in the same breath its dial design is remarkably true to original. Its raised indices are particularly charming and three dimensional, as they were on its predecessor.
IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition 150 Years
Of the many watches in this list, the roots of the Pallweber go back much further into history than any of its cohort. In 1884 IWC created the first Pallweber pocket watches, displaying jumping digital hours and minutes. As the brand celebrated its 150 year anniversary, this Pallweber concept was integrated into a series of wristwatches, available in steel, red gold, and platinum with traditionally crafted lacquer dials. Powered by the hand-wound calibre 94200, the clever new release delivers a power reserve of 60 hours, each of the three variants are limited in production. The steel variant is limited to 500 pieces, red gold to 250, and only 25 examples of the platinum model are being produced.
Longines Heritage Military
Longines, much like a few other brands in this list, has spent a fair amount of time focusing on vintage reissues in recent years. For 2018 the brand has stepped away from its focus on vintage divers, instead launching a simple military-style recreation with a bit of a twist. Styled after a release from the brand dating back to 1940 issued to the Royal Air Force, its dial features a level of aging we have yet to see anywhere else in the industry. A speckled dial looks incredibly true to the many vintage watches we’ve seen on the auction market in recent years, and the random application of its speckling ensures that no two examples are alike. The 38mm self-winding piece features traditional blued spade hands, and unlike other watches in this list its production is not going to be limited.
Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph
When Breitling killed off the Transocean 38 Chronograph, the vintage bi-compax chrono design was sorely missed by the few enthusiasts longing for more of a tribute to the heyday of vintage Breitling. Thankfully the Premier collection has just surfaced, and includes a 42mm variation of that same vintage Top Time inspired chronograph, this time powered by the B01 in-house automatic caliber. As with the Navitimer 8, there is also a non in-house caliber chronograph in the lineup for a sticker price nearly $2,000 lower, but to get the proper vintage look the two-register B01 model is the way to go.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight
The Black Bay collection is certainly starting to feel a bit saturated, however with the release of the Fifty-Eight—loosely taking inspiration from a Tudor diver from the fifties—the case proportions have been scaled down to more period correct aesthetics. The new case is 39mm across, and when paired with a gilt dial, bezel, and hands (as well as a red triangle marker on its bezel) you can easily see the vintage card being played rather well. The hard lines of the Black Bay case overall will prevent anyone for ever mistaking it for a proper vintage watch, however it is a prime example of a brand striking that modern/vintage design balance properly.