Jewelry & Watches

10 Entry-Level Vintage Watches for the Budding Collector

Looking to grow your own vintage watch collection? Start with these classic picks.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, PIXABAY, FLICKR
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The territory of luxury watches comes off as a bit intimidating for people who aren’t familiar with the art of horology. There are too many technical terms to understand and so many brands to get acquainted with. And, it gets even more complex when vintage watches are thrown into the conversation—it’s a completely different ball game. For those who are looking to dip their toes in this fine world of vintage timepieces, you can start this newfound interest with a few entry-level pieces that are relatively affordable (compared to their newer counterparts) but still boast enough street cred to gain the approval of the most discerning collectors. 

1. Seiko 6309 Turtle Diver’s Watch 

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Vintage Seiko pieces have entered the mainstream list of must-have watches, resulting in high accessibility. This recreational dive watch, in particular, was first released in 1976 and was continuously produced for 12 years since then. It features a 150m cushioned case and is one of those most sought after Seiko dive watches in the market.  

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2. Omega Seamaster dress watches

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At present, ‘Seamaster’ refers to Omega’s diverse collection of dive and sport watches. From the 1940s to the 1980s, however, the company produced special watches specifically under the Seamaster line that were rendered in yellow gold, stainless steel, and both manual and automatic movements. These pieces embody a typical 'classic-looking' watch: leather strap, round case, and gold details.

3. Tissot Seastar

A dive watch that was released in the 1960s, Tissot’s Seastar has solidified its position among the rank of top vintage watches in history. There have been many iterations of the model since then. Apparently, these vintage watches are undervalued, so it’s a good time to snatch one up. 

4. Grand Seiko Hi-Beat

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Seiko’s high-end line launched in 1960 and was Japan’s national pride for its watchmaking expertise that blended art and technology. In 1968, Grand Seiko released the very first Hi-Beat watch that ran at 36,000 beats per hour, hence the name that referred to its high-beat frequency. This revolutionary design lives on through the 9S caliber, a movement that celebrated its 20th anniversary last year through the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Caliber 9S. Despite the model’s many iterations, there’s nothing quite like the vintage ones.  

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5. Tissot Visodate

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To celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1953, Tissot decided to create a series of watch innovations and one of them was the Visodate, the world’s first automatic dive watch that integrated a date window. In 1958, the model was enhanced through the company’s new ‘single caliber’ principle which allowed for easier reproduction of the piece. Given the watch’s leather strap, stainless steel case, and large bezel, it’s a dress watch that combines style and function. 

6. Longines Flagship 

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Longines has been based in Saint-Imier, Switzerland since it was founded in 1832. For over a hundred years, the brand has been crafting exceptional timepieces that adhere to its tenets of elegance and performance. In 1957, the Flagship watch was born with its distinctive medallion featuring a caravel on the back of the case. Named after the leading ship of a prominent commander-in-chief, the Flagship watch continues to tell its storied heritage through new models such as the 60th-anniversary one. 

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7. Rado Starliner 999

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Swiss luxury watch company Rado was founded in 1917 and is known for launching the first scratch-resistant watch, the DiaStar. According to Hiconsumption, one of the brand’s automatic watches, the Starliner 999, is one of the most underrated vintage watches on the market, making it ripe for the picking for those who want one. It was created in the mid-1970s and features Rado’s anchor logo, a metallic face, and raised indices. 

8. Bulova diver watches

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Founded in 1875, Bulova is an American watch brand that is now owned by the Japanese conglomerate Citizen Watch Co. Bulova created a variety of cool diver watches throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, making it one of the go-to brands for vintage watches. According to Hiconsumption, the Oceanographer Snorkel 666 is a particularly good deal with its c-case, thick hour and minute hands, and luminous hour indices

9. Rolex Datejust

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One of Rolex’s most emblematic pieces, the Datejust was released in 1945 to commemorate the brand’s 40th anniversary. It was the first self-winding chronometer ever to display a date window, and has since been a highly coveted watch. Of course, the design also features the iconic Oyster case. According to Hodinkee, there are great pieces from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s that you can choose from.

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10. IWC Caliber 89

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The International Watch Company’s Caliber 89 is touted as one of the greatest hand-wound movements in the 20th century, making it quite the vintage watch to possess. According to Gear Patrol, the watch features an extremely accurate, mechanical three-hand movement with central seconds. IWC decided to produce more of the unique design in the ‘50s and ‘60s, providing plenty of options for collectors to choose from (or fight for). 

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