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.