When it comes to accessories, watches are a staple. They are functional, but watches also contribute to your overall presentation. Style options for watches are as limitless as your budget, but for something especially different, many collectors opt for vintage watches. You’ll not only have an object that’s more likely to be unique, but it’s also a way to celebrate the legacy of fine timepieces. Moreover, it’s a great reason to dig into the world of watches and explore their heritage, how they’ve evolved, and their cultural influence. Once you develop a taste for classic watches, it can easily become an obsession.
1Omega Speedmaster 105.003 “Ed White” (1965)
The Omega Speedmaster has quite the history behind it. In 1965 it became the first watch NASA qualified for manned space flight. In fact, the Speedmaster became the official watch for NASA’s Gemini and Apollo programs. As part of the Gemini 4 mission, on June 3, 1965, astronaut Ed White became the first American to walk in space. For about 20 minutes, White floated in space with the help of a 23-foot tether and 25-foot umbilical. What was on his wrist during this historic moment? The Omega 105.003 with a hand-wound Caliber 321 chronograph movement. These days, collectors can still purchase the Omega Speedmaster Caliber 321 — which is still associated with White. For one like the man himself had, go with the ’65.
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2IWC Schaffhausen (1950s)
There were big changes in how the world operated after World War II, and watches were no exception. After the war, with Eastern Europe under the control of the Soviet Union and Germany’s economy in a dismal state, IWC International Watch Co. AG, or IWC Schaffhausen, regrouped. At this time, the Swiss company launched its Caliber 89 movement, which remained part of the collection until the 1990s. These days, the 1950s models are noted for their timeless elegance and classic good looks.
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3Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 in Tiffany Blue (2021)
Since its release in 1976, the Nautilus collection from Patek Philippe has been a favorite of serious watch connoisseurs. In 2006, the 5711 debuted and was instantly a hit among fans of the brand. The company surprised the watch world by announcing the intention to discontinue the now-iconic Nautilus 5711 in 2021. Patek Philippe was true to its word — Nautilus models are still available, but the 5711 has officially been retired, making it extremely collectible. Over the years, the 5711 was offered in various precious metals and with different face colors. For the 2021 edition, though, Patek Phillipe gave collectors a special parting gift in the form of a collaboration with Tiffany & Co., and just 170 were created. If you can find one, you’ll join the likes of Jay-Z and Lebron James, both of whom are proud owners of the Nautilus 5711 with a Tiffany Blue face.
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4Rolex Daytona (1968)
One of the most famous watches of all time has to be Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona. A gift from his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, the watch sold at auction in 2017 for an astonishing $17,752,500. Part of that particular watch’s appeal was the inscription on the back from Woodward to Newman, who was a racing enthusiast: “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME.” Newman’s influence on the Rolex Daytona’s reputation has always remained strong with fans of Hollywood history, racing, and watches. He wore the timepiece so frequently that the watch became synonymous with the actor, earning the nickname “the Paul Newman.” The 1968 model is noted for its Art Deco-style influence and Valjoux 722 movement.
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5Vacheron Constantin American (1921)
In 1919, Vacheron was inspired to release a watch designed especially for the man with everything — that is, a car and a fine watch to wear while driving it. It was a time of change. World War I had ended, America was about to enter the era of the skyscraper, and cars were now the backbone of transportation. Among the features of the auto-inspired watch was a dial situated at a right slant. The idea was that it would be easier to read while cruising in a car with hands on a steering wheel. The concept of wristwatches was still relatively new, and they would have been much easier for keeping track of time while driving instead of having to check a pocket watch. Two years later, the watch gave way to a new look and model, the American. Now with refined numbers and different slant to the left, the American was just as ideal for formal attire as it was for driving. If a vintage model isn’t in the cards for you, there’s a modern reinterpretation of the design, known as the Vacheron Constantin American Historiques 1921.
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