A wonderful thing about vintage and pre-owned watches is the sheer variety of entry points — and that includes a variety of price points. Sure, you can spend six or seven figures on a superlative example of a super-rare reference from a storied brand that belonged to an exiled king and was auctioned by a famous auction house. And truth be told, we love those stories — and those watches!
But there’s also plenty on offer at a variety of prices — startubg under $1,000. Here, we’re choosing to focus on the sub-$2,000 category, as we feel this offers an enormous range of choices, from vintage tool watches, modern weekend ‘beaters,’ and — believe it or not — gold cocktail watches! Here, you can find something for any occasion, from SCUBA diving in the Bahamas to enjoying a cocktail with friends in New York City to pairing with evening wear for a formal night out. The choice is yours!
Did you know that SWATCH has an entire collection dedicated to the James Bond films? Our favorite has got to be the Dr. No edition, whose black 41mm plastic case and matching dial are adorned with the colorful, distinctly mid-century graphics that graced the film’s title sequence. Paired to a matching, colorful strap, it’s the perfect summer watch — though no one would fault you for wearing it all year round!
Looking for a left-of-center timepiece with some serious fashion cred? How about this funky Espace. Powered by a hand-wound movement from Jaeger-LeCoultre, it’s the brainchild of Pierre Cardin, a highly influential figure in womenswear who created a collection of 26 watches cased in everything from steel to plastic in the 1970s. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it doesn’t take itself too seriously — what more could you ask for in a vintage watch?
When watch industry veteran William Massena teams up with the design geniuses at Unimatic, you know that good things are gonna happen! This special version of the brand’s minimalist Modello Uno dive watch is influenced by vintage military-issued dive watches from the 1970s — you can no doubt guess which ones — and comes paired to an elastic fabric strap that recalls those made from parachute webbing. Powered by an automatic movement, it’s a perfect adventure watch.
The sheer number of interesting case and dial combinations present in 1970s watchmaking is astounding. Back then, Movado was still churning out beautiful tool watches, which included this 36mm cushion-cased Tempo-Matic. With its multifaceted blue dial, intact tritium luminous plots, automatic Zenith Calibre 2562 PC movement, and a brown Cervo leather strap from Analog:Shift’s collection, it can easily be worn by both men and women, and would make a lovely gift.
It’s the small details that differentiate one otherwise run-of-the-mill timepiece from another. On this vintage Wittnauer Fantasia from the 1960s, it’s the ‘hoop and stick’ handset, with its oversize, circular hour hand, that sets it apart. Less than 10mm thick and just 33.4mm wide, it comes paired to an excellent, vintage mesh bracelet from J.B. Champion, making it perfect for both men and women. Light, versatile, and just plain different, it offers tons of appeal for not a lot of dough.
Believe it or not, Abercrombie & Fitch was once the preeminent outdoor equipment and apparel retailer in the United States. From its flagship, multi-level store in New York City, the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway shopped for fishing poles, rifles, hammocks — you name it. Part of that bustling business included a thriving watch counter with offerings from some of the best brands in the world, including Movado. This Sub-Sea from the 1940s, signed ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’ on the dial, is well balanced, restrained, and handsome, with a ‘Breguet’ handset rarely seen on time-only models such as this.
Few watches are more elegant than the ladies’ cocktail watches from the mid-20th century. Thin, often gold, and featuring diminutive dials and hand-wound movements, they were timepieces, sure — but also beautifully crafted jewelry. This particular example from Lucien Piccard, dating to the 1950s, is made from yellow gold, features a small silver dial with applied gold indices, and is paired to an integrated, gold ‘mesh’ bracelet with “pebbled’ finishing. It also happens to come with its inner box, booklet, and polishing cloth. Pretty darn great for under $2K!
It’s hard to believe that you can nab a vintage-inspired, contemporary dive watch for two Gs — but looky here: The Oris Divers 65, a 42mm skin diver with an automatic movement, a fully hashed, rotating aluminum dive bezel, and a crown guard-less case, it ready to accompany you beneath the waves. (Or down the street, or into the office, or anywhere else!) Paired to a blue NATO strap, outfitted with a domed sapphire crystal, and featuring a striking blue dial with vintage-style lume and a date window, it’s simply a gem of a tool watch.
When you picture DOXA, chances are what comes to mind is something like the SUB 300 diver. However, the SUB 300 isn’t the only DOXA tool watch worthy of your attention: Feast your eyes on the Sub 600T ‘Pacific’ Limited Edition. Based on a design from the late 1970s, it features a 40mm titanium (!) case with 4 o’clock crown positioning, the brand’s famous decompression bezel and highly visible handset, plus a cool blue motif paired to a matching rubber dive strap. Highly capable and technical, we can’t think of a better summer adventure watch for the money.