Top 5 under $1K
A frequently asked question we hear often is which vintage brands bring the best value to interested buyers. The term “value prop” has gained momentum on Instagram and this snippet addresses this new interest. So, I’d like to talk about five brands that bring great value for what your hard earned money can buy. These watches include time only as well as watches with several complications for under $1,000. Note that these watches are subject to increase in value due to the crazy market that the vintage world finds itself in recently. I’m looking at you Seiko 6138’s. So the following prices will be relevant to current prices over the last few months.
We at thosewatchguys.com love Zodiac. That much is clear, if you take a look at our archives, its filled with them. I like to think of Zodiac as the little brother to Enicar. Not that it packs the same quality, but they do show similarities in design and function. A watch that I have become increasingly fond of over the past year is the Aerospace GMT. (picture) It brings incredible value having a solid size at 36mm, dual colored bakelite bezel, quick set date, that lovely black gloss dial and of course the GMT complication. The GMT isn’t seen very often in this price range and while it might not be the most complex of features, it is useful for those who find themselves constantly traveling.
Lets face it, it’s just cool to have that extra hand to look at. Aerospace’s can be found in a variety of different dial, bezel and hand designs. Myself being keen on the black gloss with light blue and black bezel pictured above. The price of these are in the $500-$900 range depending mostly on condition of course, with the black gloss dials and their original bracelets being on the higher end.
A very popular brand in both the modern and vintage markets is Omega. A long history full of innovative tool watches put them on the map, but that isn’t what we are looking at here. The Omega Seamaster has many different references so for the purpose of keeping this short we wont go into detail. Originally launched in 1953, the Seamaster is still in production, but the Seamaster we have in mind is small, well designed and always has a stellar movement. It may not be the most expensive or sought after from the watch community, but it represents great value all in one chubby cased watch.
The ref 2849 packs a whole lot of punch with its thick sharp case, simple dial configuration, and in-house cal. 503 automatic movement. Having recently owned one it’s a no brainer for the price. Just try to find one with the original signed cyclops crystal.
Tudor Oyster Prince
In 1952, the Oyster Prince was launched bringing with it a very effective marketing campaign. Being the little brother to Rolex, the goal for Tudor as a brand was to have the accuracy and dependability of its older brother at a more modest price. Thankfully, having the famous oyster case and screw down crowns, these watches have remained in very good condition. Tudor as a brand has picked up a lot of speed from collectors over the last few years and finding good examples of the Oyster Prince in good condition and at a fair price is becoming harder to come by. Creeping upwards toward the price limit of this list you can still find solid examples.
Our fourth spot on the list is not from one particular brand but from two and at a price well below the lists limit. The Hamilton and Benrus Mil-W watches were mainly in production in the 1960’s-70’s and into the early 80’s. They bring fantastic value for anyone looking for a tool watch with cool history being military general issue during the Vietnam War in the $300-$600 range. What do we love about them? Besides the price being in many cases $1000 less than the next best option, the matte & 24-hour dials, luminescent hands and of course hacking seconds makes these two watches a great buy. If you don’t mind the smaller 35mm stainless steel cases then you’re in luck. Any other option on this list will get you a superior made movement, but that’s not why we like them. Not that we prefer one brand to another, but just try to find one with great lume, combine it with an olive green nato strap and you’re in business.
I couldn’t end this list without mentioning the fantastic quality of Wittnauer chronographs. In 1885, the A. Wittnauer Company was born in New York City creating clocks and watches for the American people at a lower price. Credit for the fantastic quality can go to Longines who bought the company in 1950 and provided their pieces to Wittnauer. And we all know what fantastic chronographs Longines provided, especially in the 50’s-60’s. The two register stainless steel chronographs from Wittnauer during these decades bring phenomenal value and in many cases can still be found for under 1K if you can believe it. (Picture) At 36mm, these brushed stainless steel cases bring good size for modern vintage standards and the long beveled lugs help enhance that. The dial is very well proportioned with small registers, tachymeter/ telemetry scales that bring great color, alpha hands to finish it off. The Venus cal. 188 and Landeron cal. 248 movements tick away inside bringing great reliability to the user.
We hope that this brief list can at least jump-start anyone looking for great value whether you’re just starting off or have been collecting for years. Developing a great collection doesn’t happen quickly and if it did it wouldn’t be as fun would it? That’s why collecting vintage is for the hunt and experience and when you finally pull the trigger on the right piece it’s incredibly rewarding. And most importantly, buy what you love!