Nostalgia Machines Part 1: 10 Vintage Reissues Under $1,000

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Heritage watches these days are overwhelmingly popular. Faux patina, vintage styling, in-depth histories, and modern revivals of long-deceased brands among its many other defining features— what started as a small niche of watch design has evolved into a full-on defining trend of the past decade. And this is for good reason, the appeal of heritage watches is undeniable, with brands bringing some of the most iconic and unique designs of the past century to life with contemporary materials, manufacturing, and movements. Nonetheless, with the trend growing so quickly and not showing much sign of abating, now is as good a time as any for a solid guide to introduce and frame the fast-growing and vast group of watches.

For background, the nostalgia-inducing trend and the watches that make it up are generally distinguished between three distinct categories: vintage reissues and continuations, as well as vintage-inspired watches. The two former categories— which we’ll be primarily focusing on in this guide and the guides to follow— are modern watches highly faithful to a vintage design produced by the same brand, differentiated only if there was a significant break in production over time. While vintage-inspired watches are modern models that take a bit more liberty in their designs— possibly being produced by a different brand, or only containing veins of the original historical design through an inspired look.

In part 1 of this guide, we’ll be looking at ten good heritage watch options for under $1,000. It isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a good survey of the many watches available at this price point, and will give you a good sense of the brands leading the trend.


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Timex Marlin – $199

Leading the list is the prolific Timex Marlin, a time-only manually wound model first released by the brand in fall of 2017 to much fanfare. The watch is based on the vintage Marlin first produced in the 1960s, and is the first mechanical watch produced by Timex since 1982. With a 34-mm case, sunray dial available in at least five colors, and a vintage aesthetic unmatched by almost any other watch at just below $200— the Marlin is a great, affordable dress watch with a strong historical connection. Timex Marlin


Tissot Visodate – $300 to $675

A real OG in the heritage watch category is the Tissot Visodate, which started about ten years ago as vintage reissue of a watch produced by the brand in the 1950s, and today has become a larger vintage-inspired collection central to the modern brand. Best known for its 40mm steel case, dauphine hands, day-date window, and overall retro vibe— the Visodate is a classic choice and one that has led the trend since its release at a very affordable price point. Tissot also has several other attractive heritage offerings, the most recent of which is the 1973 Heritage Chronograph and another fan favorite in the Heritage 1948 ChronographTissot Visodate


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Yema Superman Heritage – $390 to $1,099

Next, we come to the Yema Superman Heritage, a vintage reissue diver based upon a watch by the same name produced by the French brand in the 1960s. The watch features several distinct traits, most notably its locking mechanism which holds the bezel in place to prevent underwater movement, as well as its “shovel” seconds hand and curvy crown guards. Yema offers the watch in both quartz and mechanical versions, with the quartz retailing from $390 to $490 depending on the band at 39-mm, while the automatic version retails from $999 to $1,099 and is available in either a 39 or 41-mm steel case. Yema Superman Heritage


Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical – $475 to $545

Fourth, we find the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical, another very popular heritage model based upon the MIL-W-3818B design spec commissioned by the US military in the 1960s. This original design was produced by Hamilton among an assortment of other brands (notably Benrus and Timex), and helped solidify the idea of what a field watch is in the modern watch enthusiast’s consciousness. The modern watch features a sturdy 38-mm case, an H-50 automatic caliber (based on the ETA 2801-2), and a classic field watch look that is more than combat-ready. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical


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Seiko Prospex SRP777 – $495

The Seiko Prospex SRP777 is often at the forefront of vintage-inclined Seiko collectors, and for good reason. The modern Turtle is based upon the original Seiko ref. 6309 produced by the brand in the 1970s and ‘80s, that historical model being a fan favorite in the brand’s archives and one that’s still relatively affordable as far as vintage Seikos go— usually between $350 and $1,000 depending on condition. The SRP777 uses the same turtle design, though with a slightly larger case, upgraded finishing, and fifty meter higher dive rating at 200m. Seiko Prospex SRP777


Bulova Lunar Pilot – $540

Bulova has been a large producer of heritage watches in the past few years, in 2020 having released three new heritage designs in the Surfboard Chronograph, as well as in the Hack and  A-15 Pilot Watch. One of their most successful models is the Lunar Pilot, a moon watch style chronograph based on the prototype model produced by Bulova in 1971 and worn by astronaut Dave Scott during the Apollo 15 space mission as a back-up to his standard-issue Omega Speedmaster. The heritage model today is another great piece of space exploration history at a fraction of the price of the Omega Moon Watch. Bulova Lunar Pilot


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Junghans Max Bill Hand-Winding – $795

Perhaps a surprising addition to this list is in the Junghans Max Bill Hand-Winding, which for its modern-focused minimalist design has remained largely unchanged since its introduction by Junghans in the 1960s. The Bauhaus design today channels a unique and fascinating school of design which is as relevant today as it was throughout the 20th century. The Hand-Winding model of the Max Bill collection is especially appealing, offering a few different time-only dial variations, each expertly executed and finished, powered by the J805.1 caliber (based on the ETA 2801-2), and priced just below $800. Junghans Max Bill Hand-Winding


Mido Multifort Patrimony – $890 to $1000

Less well known in the market is Swiss brand Mido, which made significant waves two years ago with its 2018 Multifort Datometer reissue. Sadly, that watch has since sold out and Mido has yet to release a regular production version, but luckily the brand now offers the Multifort Patrimony which holds a lot of the same vintage styling as the Datometer but in its own interesting design. This model opts for a modernly sized 40-mm steel case with scalloped lugs, while on the face you can find vintage throwback features like a pulsometer scale, syringe hands, and an aesthetically sectored dial recalling mid-century designs. Mido Multifort Patrimony


Squale 50 Atmos 1521 – $899

Image via gnomonwatches.com

The Squale 1521 collection is one of the historic dive brand’s most popular and traditional designs, with the 50 Atmos leading the group. The watch features a variety of colorways, including black, blue, red, and a black PVD case option, though each features a few key historical design features faithful to the vintage designs it’s based upon. Of these, you’ll notice the thick steel “von Büren” style case, which features a 4 o’clock crown and square lugs as its most recognizable features. The watch also features a Squale-unique dial configuration, 500-m water resistance, and a hardy ETA 2824-2 movement. Squale most recently released a full-lumed dial version of the watch which you can read about, here. Squale 50 Atmos 1521


DOXA SUB 200 – $899

One of the most recent releases on this list is the DOXA SUB 200, which debuted at Baselworld 2019 and is positioned at DOXA’s entry-level diver. The new watch is vintage-inspired, being the most price accessible watch within the heritage brand’s offerings. Based on the reference 11804-4, the SUB 200 features a range of vintage-inspired features that make the watch an attractive choice for the modern consumer. These are best seen in the unique style of the wide baton/sword style hands, the square-tipped seconds counter, the beads of rice bracelet, and its lack of crown guards—all elements in-line with a variety of divers from the 1960s into the ‘70s. Like most DOXA watches, the new SUB 200 is available in a range of colors to suit a variety of tastes. DOXA SUB 200


That’s it for now. Be sure to check back in the next few weeks for part 2!

Caleb is a freelance writer based out of New Jersey. Since entering the world of watches, he has spent much of his time exploring the neo-vintage trend covering historically inspired, modern timepieces. Today, Caleb finds his greatest interests in utilitarian designs with outsized value propositions and in the personal stories behind up-and-coming brands.
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