13 Best Vintage Watches To Buy Right Now - IWC Portugieser, Tudor Submariner
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13 Best Vintage Watches To Buy Right Now - IWC Portugieser, Tudor Submariner

13 Best Vintage Watches To Buy Right Now - IWC Portugieser, Tudor Submariner



It’s time to think watch fans…which vintage watches should you start adding to your collection straightaway? If you are in the know (which you should be now) our outlandish forecasts for the watch industry in 2023 point towards many areas. 

One of which is undoubtedly vintage. Sure, there are many vintage luxury items you can buy. Whisky records even retro video games. Heck, one anonymous buyer in 2021 bought a 1985 Super Mario Bros game for more than £1.5 million - the highest price paid for any game worldwide. 

But if you want to level up your style stakes, smash Bowser and your collection with aplomb, why not go vintage this year. Hotter than one of Andrew Tate’s posts, this watch trend is pulling many enthusiasts and collectors in due to several factors. 

Earthy brown, beige and green tones, gradient dials and a little patina are a snippet of things to look out for if you want to buy a watch with edge. Denim and Doc Martens is one thing.

However, there are many parameters to choose from when considering a watch. My take is if the timepiece is more than 20 years old, has a distressed look emanating from the bezel (not a gimme) you can call it vintage.

To be frank, I could adorn my entire arm with some of the best luxury watches through time. From the Rolex GMT Master II and Steve McQueen’s TAG Heuer Monaco to the Panerai Radiomir, notably the grail 202A model from 1993-1994, these beauties have much in common.

Prestige, history, investment potential, celeb appeal and a first rate backstory ensures the vintage watch trend is not a waste of time.

So what nuggets of horological wisdom do we have for you timelords? Want to become a super savvy collector? Then check out below our must read guide to the best vintage watches you should buy right now.


TAG Heuer Autavia 

We are all about flyback chronographs at Chrono Hunter, as discussed with the new iteration of the 2023 TAG Heuer Monza. Yet, one vintage timepiece that remains highly sought after is the classic Autavia collection.

Source: Montres Publiques

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Admired by many watch lovers and one of the best vintage watches to land, The original TAG Heuer Autavia is brimming with heritage. Between 1933 and 1958, it started out as a dashboard timer for cars and aviation; its name being derived from both AUTos and AVIAtion.

The 12 hour stop watch with accuracy to 1/5th of a second stood up to the most rigorous of automotive and aviator related tests.

It wasn’t until 1962 that this iconic series emerged courtesy of CEO, Jack Heuer, becoming a significant wrist watch until 1986. Good timing wouldn’t you say, as this is precisely when the first TAG Heuer F1 was introduced.

As time evolved newer Autavia watches enjoyed the first ever rotating bezel TAG Heuer launched together with 12 hour and 60 minute markers. Buy a TAG Heuer from The Autavia collection and enjoy a plethora of styles and designs to suit all manner of watch fans tastes and budgets.

But what’s so special about the TAG Autavia?

Durable, precise and featuring pioneering hairspring technology, enthusiasts still rave about their mechanical movements benefiting from the highest of Swiss accuracy. Its instantly recognisable case and bevelled lugs gained plenty of traction in horological circles before it was discontinued in 1985.

Although reintroduced in 2019, form and functionality is not compromised and can be paired with most outfits for a variety of occasions. Why not buy a TAG Heuer vintage Autavia for its scratch-resistance, top-notch reliability and first rate anti-glare elements making it a stand out piece for any collection.


Tudor Submariner

No, this ain't a double take. We did say Tudor Submariner not Rolex Submariner. Hans Wilsdorf is responsible for creating some of the most collectable dive watches of all time, none more so than the underrated Tudor Submariner.

Source: Fifth Wrist

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Rolexs little minion became established as the ideal alternative to more expensive Rolex watches but with the same quality and precision as its big horological brother.

Established during the 1950’s, Tudor watches housed different movements after 1955 but benefitted from crowns and cases supplied by Rolex. Even Rolex bracelets were featured on every timepiece until 1971.

For a possible investment, we do like the look of the Tudor Submariner over time. Inspired by the Valjoux 722 automatic, early 1950’s watches included the exceptional calibre 390 and 395 movement, produced entirely by Rolex for Tudor.

In addition, we are a fan of the early Tudor dive watches which have been increasing in value, popularity and prestige among collectors. 

Early military models are highly coveted while the legendary Oyster Prince Submariner 7922 is another talked about old school dive watch. Dating back to 1954, it followed the introduction of the Rolex Submariner, considered one of the earliest dive watches on the planet.

Possessing the same attributes as the Submariner like the bracelet and Oyster case, the difference is the movement. This is sourced from either Swiss watch movement company ETA, under the Swatch Group or Fleurier. 

Although the Submariner was discontinued in 1999, buy a Tudor like this and take advantage of its rarity. With only three generations produced in almost half a century makes it one of our top men’s watches to buy. First-gen pieces are incredibly sought after especially if they are in tip-top condition.

Some references to look out for range from the 7016, 9401 and 9411 to reference 76100. Fast forward to modern times and Tudor is growing. Perhaps it may have to do with one Mr. David Beckham who was the brand’s first ambassador. 

Consequently, prices and interest has seen Tudor watches appreciate in value as the perfect entry-level luxury solution to a Submariner. These former tool watches offer elegance and plenty of durability with their high functionality and legendary diver status.

Oh, and we don’t even have time to discuss the Tudor Pelagos. Fast becoming the hottest dive watch of 2023, if you want to buy a Tudor Pelagos 39 discover why we rave about it here


Longines Heritage

Since 1832, Longines has been pumping out a range of classic men’s watches that have turned many heads in the timepiece world. In particular, the Heritage collection is as de rigour as Jay-Z rocking his Patek Phillipe Grandmaster Chime at the Grammys. With a whole host of series laid within this treasure trove of horological delights, I wouldn't be surprised if you were tempted to buy a Longines after this rundown.

Longines Heritage 1945, Source: Horologii

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Screaming vintage from every crown and lug, they include everything from the Legend Diver Automatic and Heritage Chronograph to the Heritage Classic and Heritage Aviation. Be it air, land or sea, there’s a watch for every collector.

Renowned for their aviator-inspired watches not to mention sporty numbers and chronographs, Longines watches have been gaining traction thanks to their heritage lines.

Capturing the spirit of an uber cool dress watch, this affordable luxury brand incorporates many elements into this increasingly popular series. 

Elegance, sophistication and first rate craftsmanship has seen this popular collection make potentially great investments. Like the Longines Heritage 1945, oozing retro appeal from its retro inspired leather strap, this best vintage contender is ideal as a dress watch or paired with a cool t-shirt and aged denims.

Chances are there might be a price increase if you decide to buy a Longines from this particular collection.


Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox 

Who knew that a simple alarm function could create so much buzz. If I had considered that I would have bought myself a Ben Clymer Casio G-Shock 5600! There’s hype…and then there’s hype for the sake of hype.

Are you with me? Chances are you’d rather see me strapped in with a Moonswatch Neptune any day of the week or year.

But let's stick to luxury dear timekeepers with our next best vintage watch contender, The Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox. Yes, we know about the impact of the Reverso but the Memovox is still in a class of its own.

Derived from the latin for “memory” and “voice” this iconic manually wound timepiece certainly has lived long in the mind since its creation in 1950 at the Basel Watch Fair.

Source: Wikipedia

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The brand objective was to create groundbreaking complications which they carried off with aplomb. Everyone still goes giddy for its unique exterior design with an inner chapter ring highlighting the alarm time and two crowns located at 2 o’clock and 4 o ‘clock.

Great for businessmen on the go, JLC established the automatic calibre 815 in 1956, producing the first ever automatic alarm watch.

It quickly became an instant hit thanks to its melange of style and pioneering complication, becoming an ever present in their lineup.

Newer models were unveiled in 2010 featuring the Master Memovox and Master Memovox International but the original is like The Famous Five, remaining a timeless classic. The calibres also had a timely makeover with the launch of the calibre 956.

If you want to buy a Jaeger-LeCoultre with more modern appeal, why not consider the limited edition Master Control Memovox Timer with alarm function, timer indication and fetching trapezoid indices.

But if that’s not whetted your vintage appetites there’s more loyal readers. For those who wish to buy a Jaeger-LeCoultre vintage watch with added aesthetics, check out the Polaris collection.

The 1000-hour control testing comes as standard but this twist on a classic is another insight into the incredible watchmaking skills and precision. 

We recommend the exquisite Polaris Perpetual Calendar with a retail price of £47,000 or the 42mm Polaris Date Only. Paying tribute to the 1968 Memovox Polaris, this has a retail price of £8,800 at the time of writing.


IWC Pilot

Did someone mention cockpit-instrument? Well, our next member of the best vintage watch club needs no introduction. Oh go on then. Gents, it's time to introduce (fanfare please) the IWC Pilot.

This particular look is undeniably vintage, backed up by IWC’s reputation for producing precise and technologically advanced watches Steve Jobs would admire.

Having been produced originally for civil aviation during the mid-1930’s, the IWC Pilot could withstand severe temperature changes from minus 40 degrees to as hot as 40 degrees Celsius.

IWC Le Petit Prince Pilot Chronograph, Source: Reddit

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And demand for the retro dial designs of these elegant pilot watches have remained as scorching today as they were 90 years ago. Robust and detailed especially with the striking conical crown, this increasingly popular collection has seen many collectors pulses racing of late.

Forget the Classic Big Pilot for just a tick. Le Petit Prince is where it's at for many collectors who want to buy an IWC. Based on the novel by French poet, commercial pilot and aviation pioneer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, there’s no better timepiece to define the spirit of aviation than the Le Petit Prince. 

This led to an incredible collaboration between IWC and Saint-Exupery’s estate in 2005 capturing the aviation Zeitgeist perfectly and bringing his captivating story of Le Petit Prince to the wrists of aviation fanatics worldwide.

Our view is if you did buy an IWC such as Le Petit Prince, the Portugieser or the Aquatimer around two decades ago, it’s a safe bet it will have appreciated in value.


Tudor Black Bay

Call it nouveau vintage or vintage nouveau, there’s just something about the Tudor Black Bay that makes watch nerds and collectors sit up and take note. Rolexes smaller sibling it may well be but this Swiss brand still packs a punch.

Hans Wilsdorf clearly knew he was on to a good thing when he established Tudor as the affordable luxury watch alternative in 1926.

Source: The Rake

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Distinctively retro in more ways than one, if you want to buy a Tudor with just as devilishly good looks and quality as the Submariner, the Black Bay ticks most of the boxes.

This superlative dive watch makes all the right waves courtesy of its Submarineresque style, design and signature angular “Snowflake” hands that were seen on the wrists of the French Navy during the 1970s.

In addition, this sought after collection is home to the domed dial and winding crown, taking inspiration from the 1958 Tudor dive watches. Timelords better watch out for the Black Bay GMT ref. 79830RB or the iconic Black Bay Fifty-Eight ref 79030n which are both highly sought after. 

Despite the Kenissi movements, a collaboration between Chanel, Breitling and Tudor, we are still labelling them as an in-house Tudor movement. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight has been delivering sublime aesthetics with a hint of vintage since 2018.

A roaring success among watch enthusiasts due to the smaller 39mm size, its silhouette is remarkably similar to the Rolex Submariner. Mind you, that won’t prevent scratches from occurring on the monolithic flank given there’s no protection.

So, what else to note? Listen chaps, you should buy a Tudor for the impeccable steel bracelet alone.

Enjoying top-notch engineering the solid-end links are as cosy as those slippers on a cold and frosty morning. Executed to perfection, we also give props to the Black Bay’s bracelet that gives a nod to stretch type bracelets Rolex produced during the 1950’s. 

Its resemblance to the Tudor Oyster Prince Diver is just as uncanny with its gilt dial and red triangular marker enhancing its historical reputation while still doing its own thing.


Zenith El Primero 

There had to be one Zenith on our best vintage watches to buy right now. In 1865, the Le Locle giant quickly garnered a reputation for their first class accuracy and timekeeping know-how. Yet Zenith wouldn’t properly manufacture wristwatches until around 1945.

Zenith El Primero A386 circa 1969, Source: Reddit

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Considered the first ever mechanical chronograph to be released in the sector, the Zenith El Primero was only given in its start at the beginning of the 1960s.

As all watch connoisseurs should know, the Defy series is renowned for housing iterations of the highly respected El Primero movement spanning the last five decades.

Its automatic chronograph calibre is what the ring is to Gollom…precious! Defined as one of, if not the most accurate movement in the world, the El Primero movement had the ability to measure 1/10th of a second within the chronograph function.

By 1969, the automatic El Primero was launched. Who's to say who got there first as rumour has it Seiko unveiled an automatic chronograph at exactly the same time.

With around a 50 hour power reserve, recent models like the Defy collection house not one but two escapement systems, representing time display and the chronograph. But if you buy a Zenith, you will undoubtedly benefit from the Rolls Royce of movements, cementing its place in horological history.

Beating at 36,000Vph, significantly higher than normal rates makes this watch a trailblazer and highly coveted as a popular men’s watch, holding its value more often than not.


Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman”

Time is running out, watch peeps. Nevertheless, we couldn't conclude this without our dear old friend the Rolex Daytona.

Like a hot bath, there’s something familiar and comforting about this ever so coveted piece.

Source: Sothebys

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Rolex may well be the King of luxury watches but they never seem to rest on their horological laurels for long. Currently, there are so many whisperings about Watches and Wonders surrounding the 60th Anniversary of the Daytona and what the Swiss giant may reveal.

This is anyone’s guess. But what we do know is that if you buy a Rolex Daytona you are guaranteed a crowd pleaser, an icon, precision, contrasting dials and subdials and esteemed racing heritage. 

In fact, when was the first Rolex Daytona? Some have pinned it like a tail on a donkey to 1963 with the ref.6239 while others say 1965. After all, this was the first time the text “Daytona” was mentioned on the dial.

Although we could have written a whole other chapter on the best Rolex watches, the Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” stands head and shoulders above the watchmaking crowd. 

Paul Newman’s legendary Rolex Daytona sold for nearly £15 million, making it one of the priciest timepieces ever sold at auction. This alone ensures it deserves our respect and consistent ranking among the hottest watches for your collection you should buy right now.


9. Rolex Explorer II Reference 1655 “Steve McQueen”


Hang on a tick. Aren’t we confusing ourselves? Wasn’t Steve McQueen associated with the all encompassing and emblematic TAG Heuer Monaco that he flexed in the 1970 film Le Mans. Well you’d be right.

But we ain’t here to talk about TAG Heuer nor actor Ryan Gosling’s triple wristing vintage Carrera antics from the box office smash Barbie. Not for a second. 

Source: Sothebys

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We will get to the Easy Rider reference in just a minute. As unpopular as Rishi Sunak upon introduction, the 39mm Rolex Explorer  reference 1655 didn’t have the desirability kudos it has today. 

Launched in 1971, it was due to many enthusiasts being unable to decipher the hard to read dial. Mind you, this didn’t stop this collection of watches from becoming one of the most coveted vintage Rolex models to buy at the time of writing.

Known as freccione, the Italian term for arrow due to its legendary 24 hour indicator orange hand, reminiscent of a GMT function, the first reference 1655 was originally built for spelunkers and cave divers to separate day from night. 

So, on to the Steve McQueen watch..how did this actually come to pass? In fact, it shot to stardom (or it all may have been a spooky Mandela effect) thanks to the King of Cool who was placed next to one of these timepieces in a clever marketing campaign by none other than…you guessed it…Rolex

This drove up interest made famous by this ad and was soon discontinued with collectors swarming to it like bees to a hive. It is believed he never wore the Explorer but we do know he was a super wearer of the no date Submariner.

It created such a buzz it has become an iconic vintage watch within the community. Featuring a stainless case, steel bezel, acrylic crystal matt black dial, offset markers and a 39mm case, this really is about the man, the myth and the legend.

Spelunking aside, there truly is nothing like this within their catalogue making it highly sought after. Bold and futuristic at the time, the almost floating style straight seconds hands coupled with this somewhat overlooked range make this tool inspired timepiece an easy choice on our best vintage watches hitlist.

Obtainable for now but that’s not to say it will be unobtainable when they have eventually played catchup with more prominent models like the Daytona, GMT-Master or Day-Date

If you want to bag this best vintage watch on your wrist quickly it’ll set you back an annual bonus or two.

You can buy a Rolex Explorer II Reference 1655 “Steve McQueen” with box and papers on the secondary market with prices starting around £20,000 (as of February 2024)


10. Omega Seamaster Proplof 600

We couldn’t compose our best vintage watches selection without including this terrific number. Vintage lovers ahoy go goo goo over old school Omega Seamaster Ploprofs. And we mean drooling, especially the 600 model.

Prototypes debuted in 1969 are the most sought after that has seen this timepiece fawned over by enthusiasts and collectors ever since.

Ploprof 600, Source: Timeline.watch

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Sure they may have bezel lock issues but find one in pristine condition from the original launch in 1971 and you will be laughing all the way to the bank (not guaranteed!) A polite chortle then as this signified the birth of the diving craze during the 1960s.

Derived from Ploprof or Plongeur Professionnel (Professional Diver,) top luxury brands such as Omega wanted to cash in on this burgeoning trend.

Looking to make a splash? Check out our top guide to the best dive watches.

And boy did they make waves with this horological phenomenon encompassing a highly distinguishable steel monobloc case with a whopping 600 metres of water resistance.

In response to marine exploration and the growth of other nautical industries and commercial diving requiring highly pressurised novelties, it is the ultimate definition of a tool watch

It is so immensely popular that the Ploprof made a comeback in 2023…this time in summer blue, marking its 75th anniversary. The no date black dial in titanium has been removed from their catalogue bumping up potential price and no doubt desirability.

Talk is cheap. Be it pre-owned or second-hand, buy an Omega Seamaster Ploprof using Chrono Hunter and see why we are the essential platform to buy a vintage watch.

And while you can purchase models of this nature for around £4,000 upwards on the secondary market (as of February 2024), according to omegaploprof.com;

A watch in good condition with the correct papers or confirmed by archives is worth a premium of at least 20% higher than a regular watch. Prototypes are worth £50,000 to £150,000 as confirmed by recent prices.”

Talk about how to make a splash!


11. Patek Philippe Nautilus Reference 3700/001

You know we had to at some point. It’s all about the timing as they say. 

Of course our roundup of the best vintage watches wouldn’t be complete without examining what Patek Philippe had to say. In particular reference 3700. Like Buzz Aldrin blasting off into space with the Omega Speedmaster, this launch of the 3700 set the precedent for luxury sports watches.

Reference 3700/001 Source: Bonhams

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Debuted in 1976, this all steely number catapulted this timepiece into the echelons of luxury refinery…but not as we know it.

Naturally, any connoisseur worth their horological salt Patek Philippe were riding on the coattails of one Gerald Genta, designer and all round timekeeping guru who created four years earlier one of the most desirable watches of all time.

Although it sounds like a drink in a swanky cocktail bar…anyone for a Royal Oak?

Audemars Piguet were right on the money which signalled the steel sports watch craze lapped up by timelords worldwide. Let’s look at the details.

Integrated bracelet? Check. Date function? Check. All steel allure? Absolutely. Yet it was as costly as one of Donald Trump’s lawyer bills during this period. 

Combining elegance and functionality this vintage watch was based on one of the ships from the Jules Verne novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Out went the gold dress watch and in came the nimble Nautilus with its instantly recognizable porthole inspired case and balanced aesthetics. 

Characterised by a bold octagonal shape with rounded edges, the Nautilus is crafted from high-quality materials such as stainless steel or precious metals like gold.

The horizontal grooved pattern, often referred to as the "barleycorn" design, adds a touch of depth and texture to the dial while maintaining an understated elegance. 

The baton-style hands and indices are often accompanied by a date window, contributing to the watch's practicality without compromising its refined appearance. The Nautilus Reference 3700 eventually earned its place as a symbol of status and exclusivity. 

Plus with its limited production and association with Patek Philippe's commitment to heritage and innovation, these factors have contributed to its enduring allure among collectors and enthusiasts.

Own one of these incredibly rare watches and expect to sell a Patek Philippe for leagues above its original retail price. 

With just 170 pieces produced, we only have to mention famous wearers of the elusive Nautilus 5711 Tiffany dial such as Ed Sheeran, Jay-Z and LeBron James. 

No need to hustle…this is the way to show your flex game

12. Breitling Top Time

Move over Navitimer, now is not your moment of vintage glory. 

Fancy bagging one of the best vintage watches for under £5,000? You can with the Breitling Top Time.

Founder Willy Breitling was definitely onto something in response to the baby boomer generation which saw a growing thirst for exotic dials (think Paul Newman Rolex Daytona).

1965 Top Time reference 2002 Venus 188 as seen in Thunderball Source: Breitling

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A thirst for adventure, energetic spirit and vibrancy came in the form of the Beatles and the Swinging Sixties. Baby boomers wanted something different, something cool and an alternative to the Navitimer

As Breitling’s head honcho declared;

“Young people won’t buy the kind of watch dad wears. They will be interested in a competition watch with special dials and push buttons. A watch that will ‘impress the boys’ – a watch that is both impressive and really elegant.”

Unveiled in 1964, this most famous of chronograph watches, the Top Time was born out of timekeeping necessity with maximum performance.

Incorporating models with tachymeter, pulsomer and decimal scales, this clean looking, appealing timepiece took off with gusto and proved to be the catalyst for the Swiss outfit. 

Funky, daring and pushing the watchmaking boundaries, it was a time to rejoice for consumers who saw something different in the Top Time model. It then shot to fame after reference 2002 made an appearance in one of the most iconic movies of the 1960s, Thunderball.

Complete with two subdials, it was flexed by none other than Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1965 classic. Specially made there is even a built in Geiger counter to crush 007’s enemies.

This influential watch went on to become one of the most expensive vintage Breitling watches of all time. After being picked up at a car boot sale for a mere £25, it was eventually sold at auction for more than a whopping £100,000

This watch certainly had a licence to thrill, so much that the Top Time was revamped in 2023, taking its inspiration from classic cars such as the Thunderbird, Corvette and the blue dial Shelby Cobra.

As of February 2024, retail prices start from £4,950 should you wish to buy a Breitling Top Time to start off your best vintage watch collection.


13. 37mm Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222

If you want to buy one of the best vintage watches with added vigour and packed with lineage, look no further than the indubitable Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222. 

Overflowing with more history than the Magna Carta, The Vacheron Constantin 222 holds a special place in the history of luxury watchmaking, marking a significant milestone for the renowned Swiss manufacturer. 

2022 version of the Historiques 222, Source: Vacheron Constantin

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Introduced in 1977 to commemorate Vacheron Constantin's 222nd anniversary, this timepiece is not only a celebration of the brand's heritage but also a bold departure into the realm of luxury sports watches.

Designed by Jörg Hysek in collaboration with VC, the 222 is instantly recognizable for its distinctive tonneau-shaped case, (yes there are other shapes of this nature besides your Richard Mille timepieces) integrated bracelet and octagonal bezel. 

The case, crafted in stainless steel, represented a departure from the traditional precious metals commonly used by Vacheron Constantin at the time, adding a sporty and contemporary flair to this yellow gold watch.

The 222 was one of the early luxury sports watches, predating the luxury sports watch trend that gained significant momentum in the industry in the following decades. 

The octagonal bezel, similar to the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet, and the integrated bracelet contributed to the watch's robust and cohesive design.

The dial of the Vacheron Constantin 222 typically featured a clean and elegant design with applied hour markers, date window, and luminous hands for enhanced legibility. Powered by a high-quality automatic movement, the watch not only offered a sophisticated appearance but extremely reliable timekeeping. 

Mechanical watches were losing traction during the 1970s thanks to the emergence of the Quartz Crisis that were taking over like a rash. The stainless steel sports market was born out of necessity which had never been seen previously. 

Nicknamed “Jumbo” as it was seen as rather oversized during this period, it is no doubt a wrist worthy everyday driver that’s both versatile, sporty and elegant. Originally powered by the JLC 920 calibre, the monobloc case, grooved bezel and integrated sports strap makes it a winner on and off the court. 

Given a recent facelift, there is a signature Maltese cross residing at 5 while the open caseback gives you the opportunity to admire the epic craftsmanship behind one of the most influential vintage watches in the world.

The oscillating weight has been specifically redesigned for this most recent iteration of the 222. 

As for exclusivity and desirability, this is no doubt a best vintage watch with horological appeal and clamour, particularly due to limited production numbers. And yes, it was sadly discontinued back in 1985. 

Spoiler alert: It’s believed only 500 pieces are in existence, crafted from steel, 100 made from 18k gold and 120 watches in two tone stainless steel and gold.

Rarer than a Rolex Sako or a meteorite from Mars landing in your lawn, the 222 is a highly sought-after collector's item due to its limited availability and major historical significance in the brand's development. 

And with many famous wearers including Brad Pitt, it further gives this timepiece added red carpet star power from a must have Holy Trinity member. In terms of the updated version, with a retail price of £71,000 (as of February 2024), you can buy a Vacheron Constantin 222 upon request.



If you are looking to buy one of these best vintage watches or simply want the lowdown on this specific category, why not take a horological stroll through some of our most frequently asked questions. 


What Is The Most Popular Vintage Watch Brand?

Like a thoroughbred horse, the runaway champion for best vintage watch brand on the market is Rolex. How so? This is largely in part down to their position in the industry whereby they dominated dive, dress or casual wear that many have lapped up.

In fact, around 19,000 watches over a sixty year period from 1940-2000 hail from Hans Wilsdorf’s stable. With more than half the market share, Rolex is the forerunner and the industry leader with a host of impressive collections that have stood the test of time.

Vintage or expensive Rolex watches, such as the Submariner, Daytona, Oyster Perpetual and Datejust, are particularly prized among collectors. That’s not to say we should rule out other vintage brands such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and holy trinity member Vacheron Constantin.

Renowned for their technical excellence, exquisite craftsmanship and brand exclusivity, the latter only produced around 20 examples of every reference in one given lineup from the 1940s until the end of the 1960s.

With limited edition runs of this nature, it makes these vintage watches even more prized by collectors.  


What Vintage Watches Hold Their Value?

There is not one main vintage timepiece that retains value but many of the best luxury watch brands have excellent resale value, particularly those with provenance or brand exclusivity which should be considered.

This includes some high flyers like Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet and dark horological horses like Longines and Zenith to name a few.

Simple and refined, the time-only models from Longines are a strong but quiet contender if you are on the lookout to buy a watch. We recommend vintage Longines watches dating after the post World War Two period between the 1950s and 1960s as a starting point.

These are very much enduring pieces with many interesting novelties from the iconic Conquest line.

Omega is another renowned Swiss watchmaker known for its quality craftsmanship and innovation. Vintage Omega models like the Speedmaster, introduced in 1948, the Seamaster, and Constellation (1952) are highly coveted by collectors.

With enough vintage to pack a Vivienne Westwood show at London Fashion Week, the Constellation in smaller 34mm or 35mm sizes are the definition of 1950s chic. With a hint of flamboyance resonating from the Breguet numerals and rose gold case, look out for some flex ready numbers dating from the first ten years of references  

Vintage Patek Philippe watches are revered for their rarity, sophistication, and investment value while Jaeger-LeCoultre is a prestigious Swiss watchmaker renowned for its technical mastery and elegant designs.

The Reverso and Memovox, are highly regarded by enthusiasts, in particular the E 850, E 851, E853 and E 855 models that incorporate the signature “jumbo” Memovox aesthetics.

Don’t underestimate Cartier either with a history dating back over a century. Vintage Cartier timepieces like the Tank, Santos, and Ballon Bleu, are highly esteemed for their elegance and invigorating style.


Is A 20 Year Old Rolex Considered Vintage?

Possibly. Anything ranging from 25 to 30 years or more is considered vintage by many. But this is a genuine horological hot potato as views can vary as wildly as the number of iterations bursting from the Speedmaster range. 

Many connoisseurs maintain there should be a number of different characteristics embedded within a vintage watch including classic looks, enduring capabilities, functionality and craftsmanship among other elements. Brand power plays an integral role if you are in possession of a vintage watch. 

Whether the company is packed with lineage such as Vacheron Constantin, established in September 1755 or has ceased trading, your timepiece may have added elements that make it truly vintage.

It may have been a piece unique, a limited edition run or the first to unveil something truly distinctive like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185, the world’s first timepiece showcasing 11 complications across four different faces.

Provenance is another key factor in determining the value of your watch as history and origin are essential in ascertaining a price. 

After all, one owner with one of these best vintage watches which has been under lock and key with one owner is far more desirable and pricier than a watch that has been worn everyday and bashed around. 

Bumps, marks, abrasions, scratches you name it. Every nick and scuff under the sun will affect the overall value of a vintage timepiece. Things to identify could be has it been previously serviced, damage to the case, faded dial and oxidisation coming from the caseback or movement.

Have any parts from the original watch been replaced? Not to mention if it has had several different owners over a long period of time. 

If you are looking to buy or sell a vintage watch at the best possible price or want to understand more about the market, discuss your specific needs with Chrono Hunter here.

We know the secondary market like no other and can source a vintage watch if you are buying or assess your current timepiece for the best prices paid if you are looking to sell. 

With multiple offers, speedy turnaround, total transparency and security, you can buy or sell through us with absolute confidence.


Can You Wear A Vintage Watch Everyday?

The question whether you should wear a vintage watch on a regular basis is a personal choice. However, if you owned a classic car or a retro Ferrari, dripping in old school leather, would you take it for a regular spin? We think not. 

In addition, you must consider other factors as to whether or not you should don your wrist wear as an everyday driver. Ranging from the watch's condition and age to the specific demands of your lifestyle, a number of factors can affect the performance of your timepiece. 

Vintage watches, especially those that have been well-maintained or restored, can often withstand daily wear. However, if the watch is in poor condition or has not been serviced regularly, wearing it daily could accelerate wear and tear.

Like Old Father Time himself, whereas some have been built with robustness and durability in mind, others are more delicate and require extra care and attention. After all, every special occasion you sport your watch, it’s going to incur some minor wear and tear one way or another due to its age.

Regular maintenance, servicing and care especially if it is not constructed of a tougher material like stainless steel rather than gold are all contributing factors to maintaining optimal performance. 

Looking for specifics about watch maintenance? Read about why should I get my Rolex serviced?

Oh and yes, don’t go jet skiing in a hurry. Besides, many of the best vintage watches have significantly lower water resistance ratings compared to modern timepieces. Heck it’s not the Rolex Deepsea Challenge Ref. 126067 or 1200m Omega Seamaster Ploprof. If your daily activities involve exposure to water or moisture, it's essential to ensure that your timepiece can withstand the pressure. 

Plus, there are many enthusiasts who are fans of value preservation and prefer to preserve the condition of their vintage watches by limiting usage. If the watch has significant historical or monetary value, wearing it daily could potentially affect its resale or collector's value.


What Vintage Rolex Is Sought After?

A tough question to answer. There’s not one sought after vintage Rolex per se that is collectible. But rather a plethora of models and coveted references that get many enthusiasts' gears turning. If you are looking for some of the most desirable Rolex watches, many turn to the following;

And many vintage collectors are crazy about original parts. The more authentic the better which plays an integral role in the value of your vintage Rolex watch. This is paramount if you want to sell your Rolex as it’s better to leave it untouched with original dial, movement and bezel rather than adding new elements. 

It’s originality all the way, so much so that even defects are admired and lusted over in the vintage watch world. Tropical dials are now big players in this sphere which were frowned upon previously but have made a comeback in the community.

This is despite their flaws emanating from their orange or brown tinged dials caused by sunlight and oxidisation. It is now the opposite with many deeming this as extremely collectable thanks to the individuality of the dial. 

This is best found in pre-1980 vintage watches that don’t offer as much sun protection as more contemporary timepieces. And they are hard to come by making them more desirable and further adding value.

Furthermore, there are some who want to buy a watch relating to the year they were born which is another growing trend amongst hardcore enthusiasts. 

As per vintage cars or Harley Davidson bikes, owning a piece of history is very much de rigeur among collectors. Take for example the most expensive Rolex ever sold in history owned by Paul Newman that fetched a cool $17.8 million at auction. 

Many of the vintage Daytona references ranging from 6239, 6241, 6262 and 6263 to 6264 and 6265 (Known as “Big Red”) still remain incredibly sought after 70 years on.



And we didn’t have a minute to express our horological love for the others that didn’t make the cut.

A big mea culpa must go to the following vintage numbers…The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, Breitling Navitimer, the Rolex Date ref.1503, the Omega Flightmaster 145.013 and the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms No Radiation.

Like a fine wine, vintage watches only get better and better with age. And with our exclusive lowdown, we are sure you will be fully equipped to add value to your collection in no time at all.


Want to buy a Tudor or looking to buy a Rolex Daytona for investment potential? Maybe you are timing the market to sell your Zenith or sell your Jaeger-LeCoultre? Why not contact ChronoHunter here and receive the best possible offers from our trusted network of the most reputable luxury watch retailers.

Don’t take our word for it. Look at our Trustpilot reviews to find out why we are your essential platform to buy a watch and sell a watch


Discover, hunt, buy, sell


Further Reading: 

Review: Rolex Daytona 116509

Review: Rolex Daytona 116500LN

Question Time: How Do I Sell My Jaeger-LeCoultre Watch?


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