This year many brands have been taking a look back into their history and recreating something that they had already done in the past. These sort of watches have an instant appeal because they have characteristics that look vaguely familiar even if you don’t know the watch. It’s a trend similar to things that are happening in other sectors, such as barbers offering luxurious wet shaves, the return of the waistcoat, and secret bars based on Prohibition-era speakeasies. Curiously, this year several of these vintage style watches are diving timepieces. They all incorporate contemporary technology in their calibres, for better precision and reliability. Here is a selection of five, in increasing price order, starting from the impressively accessible Hamilton timepiece at just €420.
1. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
There are a lot of interesting features in this watch. The price is remarkable. The choice of not adding a date window is in my opinion positive and courageous. Equally courageous is the hand-wound movement. I’m sure that it will get a lot of the new generation interested in the world of mechanical watches. The Khaki Field Mechanical by Hamilton is a recreation of a watch that the company made for the U.S. Army from 1967, the GG-W-113. The new version is moderately sized at 38 mm, a little larger than the 34 mm of the original. The dial with 24-hour notation, luminescent hands and numerals, and a durable NATO green canvas strap are faithful to the original: the only thing that Hamilton have added is the brand name and the “Swiss made” motto. The ETA 2801-2 calibre is slim enough to enables the case to be kept stylishly thin, 9.5 mm. The watch is reference H69429931, and it costs €420. Further information from the Hamilton website.
2. Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver
Christopher Ward is a brand that was founded in London in 2004, and so for the Trident Diver its designers took inspiration from 1960s diving watches. It has a 41mm stainless steel case, and the choice of a hand-wound movement, the Sellita SW210-1, enabled them to keep the thickness down to 11.55 mm. This gives it an almost dress-watch practicality in that it can be used as an everyday watch capable of slipping under a shirt cuff. The diving-watch rotating bezel makes it possible to measure elapsed times. The period feel is enhanced by the box-type sapphire watchglass and the seconds hand with trident counterweight. Its water resistance is 150 metres. Price €870, available from mid-September 2018. Read more on the Christopher Ward website.
3. Oris Big Crown Pointer Date
The Big Crown Pointer Date is based on one of Oris’ most famous designs, a timepiece introduced in 1938. It has a lot of character, provided by details such as its fluted bezel, the large crown, and the red-triangle-tipped date hand. It also has a distinctive font used for the numerals, cathedral-type hands with faceted areas of luminescent paint, and a domed sapphire crystal watchglass. It is available in different versions, with case in steel or bronze, different dial colours, and two sizes, 36 or 40 mm. The display caseback reveals Oris’ red oscillating weight, part of the Calibre 754 movement, based on the Sellita 200-1. Prices start at €1,500. Further information from the Oris website.
4. Montblanc 1858 Automatic
Montblanc’s history is fundamentally that of the brand Minerva, founded in 1858 and purchased by Richemont Group who then assigned it to its brand that had built its reputation on fountain pens. The 1858 Automatic is part of the 1858 collection whose design is based on early military and pilot’s watches, with black dial, Arabic numerals and cathedral-type hands with faceted areas of luminescent paint. The dial also features a vintage Montblanc logo, and has no date window. The 40mm steel case has an excellent water resistance of 10 bar, 100 metres. It is powered by the self-winding MB 24.15 movement, which is the Sellita SW260-1, providing 38 hours power reserve and running at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz. Reference 117832. $2,670. Further information at the Montblanc website.
5. Tudor Fifty-Eight
The new addition to Tudor’s Black Bay family is a tribute to the brand’s earliest dive watches, with a small, slim case that heightens its vintage looks. Just 39 mm in diameter and 11.9 mm thick, it can be worn by just about everyone, and it is approaching dress watch wearability, thin enough to slip under a shirt cuff. Tudor made a smaller and thinner movement to power this watch, the self-winding in-house calibre MT5402, which has a silicon balance spring, a 70-hour power reserve, and COSC chronometer certification. The watch is water-resistant to 200 metres. Prices from €3,060. Further information from the Tudor website.
6. Seiko Prospex 1968 Auto Diver’s
Seiko’s recreation of its 1968 automatic diver’s watch has instant appeal for its historic looks, that are accompanied by technical excellence. Seiko’s dive watches have monobloc cases, with no screw-down caseback, improving water resistance and reliability. Access to the movement is from the dial side only. The new piece is the same large size as the original, 44.8 mm in diameter and 15.65 mm thickness. It is powered by the 8L55 Calibre, a high-beat movement ensuring excellent precision, and the steel case is polished using the zaratsu technique. Its vintage features, fine finish and the edition limitation justify the retail price of €5,500. seikowatches.com
7. Omega Seamaster 1948
The Omega Seamaster 1948 celebrates the 70th anniversary of the brand’s civilian version of a military watch issued to British armed forces, both for aviation and marine use, during the Second World War. The piece shown here has a 38mm steel case with a 60 metre water-resistance rating, a dial with a small-seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, a vintage Omega logo, a brown leather strap and a presentation box that includes a NATO strap and the tool needed to remove the springbars when changing the strap. Inside, the calibre 8804 automatic movement has Omega’s signature co-axial escapement and chronometer-certified precision. It is a limited edition of 1,948 pieces, and it will be available from October 2018, price €6,300. Further information from the Omega website.
8. Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date
The Polaris Date by Jaeger-LeCoultre is based on the appearance of the 1968 Polaris Memovox, and it is distinctive for the extra crown that operates the internal rotating bezel, which can be used to time events. The shape of the numerals and hour markers with vanilla SuperLuminova, the case design and the black dial are all close to the original. It’s quite large at 42mm diameter and 13.1 mm thickness, and it can be taken underwater, with a water resistance of 200 metres. The Polaris Date has a solid case back with a diver engraving, so you can’t see the movement, which is the self-winding Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 899A/1. This watch costs €7,850, and it is reference 9068670. Read more here. Or visit the Jaeger-LeCoultre website.
9. Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Automatic
The FiftySix is based on the 6073 watch that was presented in 1956 to celebrate Vacheron Constantin’s 200th anniversary. The new version has a more modern 40 mm case size, slim at 9.6 mm thickness. Like the 6073, its lugs are unique, with angles and facets that are a reference to the Maltese cross. It’s a compact watch that could easily be worn by women as well as men. Vacheron Constantin have updated the design of the 6073, adding some contemporary features, such as the date window, the box-type watch glass in sapphire crystal, and the display caseback. The shape of the crown and the way it is initegrated into the caseband are lovely touches. The movement is Calibre 1326, built by Manufacture Horlogère ValFleurier, part of the Richemont Group. It is based on the Cartier 1904-PS MC introduced in 2010 and used for the Calibre de Cartier watches. It is self-winding, with a power reserve of 48 hours, and it runs at 4 Hertz, 28,800 vibrations per hour. It provides the stop-seconds function. Read more here. Or visit the Vacheron Constantin website.