Winding back the clock is hardly a new thing for watch companies – they love re-editions. What's unusual is to see so many models based on trips down memory lane.
Then again, this is a business that feeds off an image of authenticity and history, and brands know full well the allure of vintage watches. It makes practical sense too: revisiting earlier models saves on research and development costs, and few industries have preserved past records and designs so assiduously.
No surprise, then, that brands are rediscovering the attic to bring back old favourites, albeit at not-so-old prices.
1. Longines Heritage 1945
Longines does heritage pieces every year and this salmon-hued recreation of a 1945 model is a winner. Now 40 mm rather than 38 mm and with a self-winding movement, it retains the curvaceous design of the era with subtlety and proportion the order of the day. Around $3000.
2. Omega 1957 Trilogy
Three iconic Omegas, the Speedmaster, Seamaster 300 and Railmaster, turn 60 this year and to mark the occasion the brand has released a trio visually replicating the originals down to the tiniest detail; only the movements have been upgraded. Available as a limited edition set or individually priced under $10,000 each.
3. Seiko 1965 Prospex dive watch
Seiko produced Japan's first dive watch in 1965 – and here it is again as a hand-assembled limited edition. The looks are there from every angle, the box-shaped crystal now rendered in sapphire rather than acrylic, and the hardened case rated to 200 metres. $5500.
4. Limited Edition Oris Big Crown 1917
It began life as a pocket watch with wire lugs soldered on for the strap. A "pin-lever" movement similar to the original features in this limited-edition replica, yours for around $3000.
5. Rado 1962 Hyperchrome Captain Cook
Originally released as a mark of Rado's appreciation of Cook's pioneering spirit and groundbreaking achievements – values the brand is "also known for" – the 2017 version is available in 37.3 mm or 45 mm cases and certainly looks the part with chunky arrow-shaped hands, oversized indexes and a bezel in ceramic on the larger model. $2475.
6. Ulysse-Nardin 1964 Diver Le Locle
It might be based on a 1964 model but this 42.2 mm diver is rated to 100 metres and features a modern self-winding in-house movement with silicon lever, escape wheel and balance spring. It comes on a sailcloth band. Priced at $14,700.
7. Blancpain 1950s Fifty Fathoms
The distinctive orange and white dub-dial – it acts as a moisture-alert indicator – was seen on early interpretations of Blancpain's 1950s diver, along with the trademark "doughnut" bezel. Now the case size has been increased from 38 mm to 40 mm and inside is a modern two-barrel mechanism. Priced at $17,650.
8. IWC 1948 Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII Edition "Tribute to Mark XI"
This limited edition of IWC's Mark XVIII model replicates the design of the historic Pilot's Watch Mark 11 model from 1948. Presented on a Nato strap, a soft iron cage protects the automatic movement from magnetic fields. Just 1948 examples will be available. $6400.
9. Tissot Heritage 1948
Inspired by a watch Tissot discovered in its museum collection, from a time when the brand "offered numerous chronograph models for its male customers", this steel-cased self-winder boasts similar studded indices, elongated pushers and sub-40 mm sizing. In other words, it looks the part. Price around $2000.
10. Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100
Marking 10 years since Montblanc began exploring the heritage of its acquired Minerva manufacture, this mono-pusher chronograph is cased in bronze and looks "of the era" with a champagne dial carrying a Montblanc logo from the 1930s. The internals boast hand-finished, vintage-look, red-gold components. $42,780.
Check out the gallery above to see 10 of the most timelessly stylish watches.
This story was first published on AFR Magazine's 10th Anniversary Issue of Watch.