Recently, we took a look at pre-owned and vintage watches under $10,000. Running the gamut from precious-metal dress watches to stainless steel chronographs to avant-garde complications, this category houses a wide range of watch types and materials. However, though $10,000 is certainly no small amount of money, traveling just a bit farther upstream yields appreciable differences, opening up a wider array of horological options including rare limited editions, titanium game-changers, and gold — lots and lots of gold.
Beginning our search just north of the $10K mark, we’re going to examine watches from a wide variety of brands, time periods, and types, including classic vintage chronographs from the likes of Heuer; modern, avant-garde timekeepers in contemporary materials from the likes of Bulgari; and solid-gold dress watches both vintage and modern from brands such as Omega and Cartier. Furthermore, the watches we’ve chosen to highlight are merely the tip of the iceberg — many more can be found by consulting this price-bracketed search link on AnaloShift.com. Of course, if there’s something specific you’re looking for in this price range, you can also feel free to reach out to us for help in sourcing it.
HEUER AUTAVIA GMT
Heuer Autavia GMT ($10,350)
Nothing quite combines utility and beauty like a vintage tool watch from the 1960s or 1970s. To wit: This excellent Heuer Autavia GMT Ref. 11630 melds the brand’s chronograph expertise with a handy travel complication, packing everything into a comfortable 42mm barrel case. Rare and handsome, it features a red and blue, 24-hour “Pepsi” bezel insert for handy time zone changes, a dual-register chronograph display with 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers, a date window above 6 o’clock, and an excellent red, blue, white, and yellow color scheme. Furthermore, it’s powered by the Heuer Calibre 14, a GMT-equipped version of the maison’s famed Calibre 11 automatic chronograph movement.
BLANCPAIN FIFTY FATHOMS BATHYSCAPHE DAY DATE DESERT EDITION
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was one of the world’s first commercially available dive watches upon its debut in 1953; adopted by several of the world’s militaries, it quickly became a horological classic. This special Desert Edition of the Bathyscaphe — originally a scaled-down take on the F.F. named after the manned submersible of Swiss explorer-diver Auguste Piccard — is so cool looking, one would be forgiven for ignoring its genuinely useful functionality: In addition to being an oversized (43mm), vintage-inspired dive watch, it boasts a handy day-date display at 6 o’clock, turning it from simple tool into luxurious accessory.
BVLGARI OCTO FINISSIMO S
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S ($10,900)
It’s not often that a brand comes along and completely revolutionizes watch design — especially one that was particularly well known for its watches in the first place! But that’s precisely what Bvlgari did with the Octo Finissimo, a series based upon classical architecture that uses ultra-thin movements, in 2014. This version, the Octo Finissimo S, is the simplest iteration: Given its 6.4mm-thick, 40mm-wide stainless steel case, micro-rotor automatic movement, and gorgeous blue sunray dial, you might think we’re describing a dress watch. But 100m of water resistance and a matching, stainless steel bracelet mean that the S is made for everyday wear, and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty.
Omega Constellation ($11,000)
The “Connie,” as Omega’s Constellation is affectionately called by collectors, is the brand’s ultra-precise collection of chronometer-grade watches. Housed in steel as well as precious metal cases, these excellent timekeepers have been around since the mid-20th century, serving as reminders of Omega’s long and storied horological record as builders of fantastic in-house movements. This example is particularly notable — housed in a solid yellow gold case and paired to a matching beads-of-rice bracelet, it’s a fabulous, handsome, luxurious talisman from the golden age of watchmaking. Throw it on with everything from a t-shirt to a tuxedo, and don’t be surprised when you turn heads!
CARTIER TANK AMERICAINE
Cartier Tank Americaine ($11,800)
In 1989, Cartier released the Tank Americaine, retooling its famed Cintrée curved dress watch somewhat for the American market. With its larger, elongated profile and curved caseback, it provides an elegant, familiar shape — but with a twist. Though it was originally produced only in quartz iterations, it’s now available in a wide array of movements, metals, and designs. The Reference 2505 that we have here is perfect for a man in search of a handsome, timeless dress watch. Measuring 26mm wide and housed in a rose gold case, it’s powered by an automatic movement and features a subtle date window above 6 o’clock, a Roman numeral dial, and a black, alligator leather strap.
Heuer Carrera Ref. 2447N
Heuer Carrera Ref. 2447N ($12,500)
When Heuer released its Carrera chronograph in 1963, the brand couldn’t possibly have been aware of the effect it would have on the watch industry. Still popular 60 years after its debut, Jack Heuer’s automotive-inspired baby continues to captivate legions of fans of its minimalist design. This execution, a Reference 2447N from the 1960s, is a three-register version of the beloved chronograph, bearing 30-minute, 12-hour, and running seconds totalizers powered by the venerable Valjoux 72 hand-wound movement. Paired to a Kenia Honey Brown leather Ralstra racing strap, it couldn’t possibly be better suited to the track — though it’ll do just as well in everyday settings, too.
BREITLING CO-PILOT CHRONOGRAPH
Breitling Co-Pilot Chronograph ($12,900)
The civilian version of Breitling’s helicopter pilot-approved AVI Ref. 765, the Co-Pilot pairs down the Navitimer’s busy design into a relatively straightforward, triple-register chronograph — albeit one whose aluminum 12-hour bezel lends yet another layer of utility to an already utilitarian design. Measuring 42.5 mm in stainless steel and featuring a matching, steel flat-link bracelet, this version is particularly fetching, its tritium lume having turned a creamy, yellow hue and its dial having retained the crisp printing that made the Co-Pilot a midcentury classic. Throw it on with a leather flight jacket, and you’re ready to take to the skies.
PIAGET PERPETUAL CALENDAR
Piaget Perpetual Calendar ($12,950)
Few pieces are as emblematic of the buying opportunities left in neo-vintage watches as this perpetual calendar from Piaget. Retaining the small sizing of vintage models — it’s just 33mm wide — it nevertheless packs a tremendous horological punch in the form of an automatic movement offering time, day, date, month, and moonphase information. Dating to the 1990s and sheathed in yellow gold, this elegant member of the Gouverneur line is perfect for both men and women — indeed, whether paired with a tuxedo or a dress, its fine lines and gorgeous dial are sure to draw jealous attention.
IWC PILOT'S CHRONOGRAPH TOP GUN 'OCEANA'
IWC Pilot's Chronograph Top Gun 'Oceana' ($13,000)
IWC’s forays into ceramic are well known to watch aficionados — indeed, their Ref. 3705 chronograph from the 1990s is a veritable neo-vintage classic, and a design that spawned entire collections of contemporary watches. The Pilot’s Chronograph Top Gun ‘Oceana’ is one such timepiece: Housed in a 41mm case, it blue ceramic livery is inspired by the uniforms of naval personnel worn on aircraft carriers, while its matching, matte blue dial and rubber-nylon strap give it a handsome, monochromatic bent broken only by crisp white printing. Powered by IWC’s in-house Calibre 69380 automatic movement, it features column-wheel activation and a handy day-date display — plus, of course, a triple-register chronograph.
PATEK PHILIPPE CALATRAVA
Patek Philippe Calatrava ($14,800)
Boy, it is tough to argue with a simple, elegant Calatrava dress watch from Patek Philippe — especially a fetching, vintage example from the mid-20th century such as this one. Effectively the watch that saved Patek’s business during the Great Depression, the Calatrava is emblematic of everything a good dress watch should be: minimalist, handsome, and timeless. This example, measuring 32mm in diameter and housed in a yellow gold case, features a to-die-for satin silver dial with applied ‘dart’ indices, an outer 1/5th-seconds track, and a yellow gold handset with a blued steel seconds hand. Paired to a taupe-colored, pebbled leather strap, it couldn’t possibly be more elegant.