When it comes to vintage chronographs, "Panda Dials" are a unique aesthetic preference that, regardless of brand or history, have become one of the most desirable "looks" on the market.
The 'Panda" nickname refers to a chronograph with a white dial with black subsidiary registers, and is a simple aesthetic choice which has become greatly sought after in the collector community, with Panda Dial variants often commanding many multiples of their "standard" dial brethren (think "Siffert" Heuer Autavias, "Nina Rindt" Universal Geneve Compaxes, and of course "Paul Newman" Rolex Daytonas). Of course, a timepiece need not have an association with a famous historical figure to have the same great looks, and in many cases the best values in vintage are those without any celebrity connection that have yet to be "discovered" by the collector community.
Such is the case with this awesome Wittnauer Chronograph - an absolutely stunning vintage sports watch that hasn't received any notoriety for being worn by a movie star or racing legend, but has all the looks and mechanical muscle to be counted amongst the best.
Although the name Wittnauer may be relatively unfamiliar to you, the brand dates back to 1885 and was involved in the development of precision instruments for the US Military in the early part of the 20th Century. They were also known for their aviation gauges, and saw use in the early days of the American space program (as well as being one of three contenders for the Apollo program watches, an honor that eventually went to Omega). The brand was purchased by Longines in 1950 and shared components and design cues with Longines and Omega during the golden age of mechanical sports timers.
Dating from the 1960s, this particular steel chronograph is sized at an infinitely wearable 40mm, more substantial than many of its contemporaries and perfectly sized for the modern wrist. It features an uncommon and absolutely stunning Panda Dial with dual register layout with a 30 minute counter at 3:00 and sweeping subsidiary seconds at 9:00. Dashes of color are visible on the central chrono seconds hand and on the 30 minute register, beautifully complementing the cherry red bi-directional rotating bezel.
Powering this gorgeous timepiece is the robust Calibre 7733 manually-winding chronograph movement by Valjoux. If you've been looking for a Swiss made vintage chronograph with strong guts and a $150K look on a $1500 budget, your search is over!