Gear: 3 Vintage Driving Watches You Can Buy Right Now

3 Vintage Driving Watches You Can Buy Right Now

By Isaac Wingold
January 4, 2017
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2017 is finally here, which means you can now officially use the “but I haven’t bought a single watch this year” excuse. Watch nerds, rejoice! Already, it’s looking like a bright year is ahead for vintage watch finds, as today’s selection of chronographs will definitely show.

Omega Straight Lug Speedmaster Ref. 2998-62

Last year, the Speedmaster was finally established as a bona fide blue chip chronograph. The Christie’s thematic sale of late 2015 certainly played a part in this, but it was the collectors that did the heavy lifting in the following months, as desirable examples were flipped, traded, and stashed away fiercely. We’re now starting to see more exceptional examples come to market, like this one from Lunar Oyster.

What we’ve got here is simply a top notch example of one of the most desirable Speedmaster references ever produced — the 2998-62. Everything about it is original, apart from the crystal, but you wouldn’t want such a watch to be fitted with an old, cracked piece of acrylic, now would you?

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Zodiac Zodia-Chron

While the vintage chronograph craze of recent years has helped shed light on a range of terrific watches that had gone overlooked for far too long, many a meh watch has shot up in value as a result. This is why I’m often skeptical of the values being assigned to some pieces with few previous sales, and in 2016, Zodiac’s Zodia-Chron was one of those watches.

A friend had been selling one, and I personally didn’t get the appeal like he and many others did, but when I finally handled the watch in the metal, it clicked. The range of different, contrasting silver finishes on this piece’s dial work together so well, unlike any other chronograph dial I’ve seen.

This example with the original bracelet just popped up on eBay recently, and I must say it’s a nice one. If interested, I’d advise acting quickly, as this watch doesn’t surface often.

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Breitling Premier Ref. 734

As collectors’ tastes continued to refine in 2016, we saw a great deal of development in the market for vintage watches from Breitling. I partially attribute this to how their elephantine offerings of the early to-mid 2000s have become more of a fleeting memory, but like any notable uptick of interest in vintage watches, it came as a result of truly outstanding early designs.

This stunning Ref. 734 from Matthew Bain is no exception. It’s been maintained wonderfully over the years, as evidenced by the rather sharp case and clean black dial, and at 37 mm, I’d wager that it wears very nicely.

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Steer Clear: Vintage “Breitling” Chronograph

This on the other hand is not a Breitling. Never has been, never will be. This is what’s known as a fake watch. Allow me to explain.

You see, a “Breitling” is worth a hell of a lot more than a series of loose chronograph parts lying around a watchmaker’s workbench. With a little work, you’ve got yourself a vintage chronograph, but still no Breitling. This is when a poorly executed dial signature enters the equation, along with a crown bearing the brand’s logo. No signed bridges in the movement, not even a whiff of branding on the stainless steel case.

Decently nice looking watch? Sure, but your $2500 would honestly be better spent on quite literally anything else.

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