Vintage fashions have a habit of coming around and becoming key trends once again. This is the reason we have curated a buying guide of vintage inspired watches for men. Fashion influencers often turn to vintage fashions to find inspiration for new, trend-setting looks. Watches are no exception to this. Many watch collectors enjoy the appearance of vintage watches as they offer an insight into the history of the horological industry. Many people feel drawn to particular periods in history whether it be due to a familial connection or simply a historical interest. A vintage timepiece is a great way to feel a unique connection to a time in history.
The Late 16th Century
Wristwatches did not become a well-known accessory until much later in horological history. When clocks were first downsized into something portable, they came in the form of pocket watches. This was a great feat for watchmakers as the miniaturisation of the movements required a great amount of engineering and expertise. This invention of the pocket watch kickstarted the watch industry as they became incredibly desirable fashion statements. Modern day pocket watches have not changed much from the original, vintage design. They are an excellent way for collectors to feel as though they own a small piece of horological history.
This pocket watch has all of the beauty and charm of an original vintage pocket watch. In fact, J&T Windmills are one of the oldest brands in the industry. The brand was founded around 1680 and has been producing traditional watches ever since. This pocket watch exhibits a stunning sterling silver case that is engraved with a detailed floral design. The watch is powered by a Swiss made hand-wound mechanical movement to allow the wearer the joy of being able to wind their own watch, giving it a truly vintage feel.
The Early 1910s
Pilot watches were born out of wartime. Pilots could not afford to remove a hand from the steering wheel of their aircraft to check a pocket watch. Therefore, watchmakers had to adapt their techniques. The first pilot watch was created by Louis Cartier for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont. The watch gathered a lot of attention and led to a lot of demand from other pilots. Wartime was very influential on the industry, and the iconic pilot watch was a key product of the build up to the first world war. Pilot watches come in a great variety of styles, and their classic design makes them great vintage timepieces.
Laco was founded with the desire to build authentic, precise and vintage timepieces. This German brand has stayed true to its original pilot watch designs, giving each of its models an authentic vintage feel. This watch has been deliberately aged to make it look like an authentic vintage Laco timepiece. This process ensures that each watch is entirely unique. Many elements of the watch are based on vintage Laco models, such as the Baumuster B inspired dial and domed sapphire crystal. The watch is secured on the wrist using a closed-loop pilot’s brown calf leather strap that is detailed with rivets.
The Late 1910s
With wartime came a shift in what was required from the watch industry. Soldiers in the trenches had a very specific set of needs for a watch and manufacturers were encouraged to alter their standard designs to support the effort. These watches had to be clear and easy to read with luminous elements so that they could be read in the gloomy conditions of the trenches. The trench watches needed to be robust and water resistant so that the soldiers could rely on them. The military style of these watches has continue to be a popular trend in modern fashion, making them a prime example of vintage inspired watches for men.
This Seiko watch takes great inspiration from the traditional trench watch. It exhibits a distinct military design with a day-date display and recessed crown. This watch is powered by a reliable 4R36 automatic movement that provides it with a power reserve of up to 41 hours. The movement is housed in a robust stainless steel case. This model exhibits an eye-catching green colour scheme which is reminiscent of the colour of army camouflage. This vintage inspired military field watch would be an excellent addition for those with an interest in wartime history.
Once the first world war was over, watch brands could begin playing with their designs once again. However, utility and functionality was still on the minds of the manufacturers. Therefore, the chronograph watch was created. Chronograph watches require more complicated movements, so were a sign of significant progress within the watch industry. Watch brands were now in direct competition with one another. They were each trying to include never before seen complications in their timepieces. Chronograph watches are a symbol of this time as collectors of the 1930s enjoyed elaborate designs with a decadent finish.
Although Zeppelin watches was founded in more recent years, each of its designs is reminiscent of a vintage timepiece. The brand instills each watch with a sense of timeless elegance, but with the addition of modern technological refinement. This model features a blue dial with two sub dials and a date aperture. An interior tachymeter bezel surrounds the dial. The dial is framed by a stainless steel case that exhibits a large crown and two pushers. The classic brown leather strap is detailed with cream top stitching for a truly timeless finish.
The watch industry has always been heavily influenced by the technological advances of other industries. As electrical devices were becoming more commonplace and popular throughout the 1950s, watch companies were inspired. Hamilton became the first brand to produce and sell electrical watches. The design became iconic and was favoured by many famous personalities, including Elvis Presley. Although electric watches did not truly catch on, Hamilton has continued to build watches that are inspired by the original 1950s designs.
This watch from Hamilton is heavily inspired by the brand’s original 1950s electric watch designs. The skeleton dial exposes the H-10-S automatic movement within. Although this watch is not powered by electricity, Hamilton have made every effort to suggest that it is. A red zig zag extends across the dial, representing an electric current. The unusual triangular case of the watch is sure to be eye-catching on the wrist and will remind the wearer of the rock and roll trends of the 1950s. This striking design is what makes this watch one of our top vintage inspired watches for men.
The 1970s was a time of great turmoil and change in the watch industry. The invention of the battery powered quartz movement led to what is now commonly referred to as the ‘quartz crisis’. Many of the ‘old fashioned’ watch companies could not keep up with the lower prices and faster production rates of the quartz led brands. This led to many of them going out of business. Fortunately, some of the great brands managed to weather the storm and are still around today. However, quartz movements changed the watch industry forever so this kind of watch is a great symbol of this period of horological history.
Seiko were one of the key players throughout the ‘quartz crisis’. This led to them becoming an incredibly influential brand in the industry. The brand’s quartz movements are very highly regarded for their precision and reliability. This model is especially unique due to its titanium and gold case and bracelet. Titanium is both lightweight and durable, making it a great material in watchmaking. This watch is water resistant up to 100 meters, making it more than capable of withstanding the small splashes and showers it will encounter throughout daily life. This model is powered by a calibre 6N52 quartz movement.
What did you think of our vintage inspired watches for men recommendations? Do you have a favourite era of watchmaking history? Let us know in the comments!