3 Vintage Driving Watches You Can Buy Right Now
Each and every week, I try to pick out a few pieces of interest that would appeal to both discerning collectors and the mass market. But to be perfectly honest, I was mainly looking at watches for myself this week. With that said, I like to think I have half-decent taste, and if you’ve been taking the time to keep up with this column, then maybe you’d agree. So without further ado, here’s what caught eye, tickled my fancy, and whet my horological appetite this week.
Heuer Autavia Ref. 73663 Military
If you take a step back and look at the progression of the Autavia from afar, you’ll find that examples of the legendary chronograph can often be placed in history based upon three main things: case shape, caliber, and dial design. While there are of course more details to factor in, these three are certainly a good start. On early pieces, you’ll find more traditionally shaped cases, fitted with manually wound movements, and rather spartan black-and-white dials. Fast forward about 15 years, and you’ll see that the Autavia line began to take bigger risks, as indicated by the application of bold, brightly colored accents, and the adoption of a slightly more unconventional case shape.
One of my very first watches was a cushion case chronograph, so I’ve always had a soft spot for the later examples, but at the same time, the monochromatic aesthetics and hand wound reliability of Heuer’s earlier efforts appeal to me strongly. That’s why I was delighted to come across this military variant of Ref. 73663 Autavia, which for me, hits all the right notes. It’s also in fully mint condition, leading me to believe it spent most of the past 40 years tucked away in hiding.
Cushion Case Zodiac Chronograph
The aforementioned cushion case chronograph that fueled the fire that is my horological obsession was a Zodiac, albeit a quartz one. It had a black rubber racing strap, which paired nicely with the bright orange dial, and it remains to this day as one of my favorite watches. With that said, if I could go back and do things over again, I might’ve opted for something more along the lines of this.
What you’re looking at is another Zodiac, that, if my knowledge of watches serves me well, dates back to the early 1970s. Powered by the Cal. 84—a rebranded Valjoux 7734—this piece features an ultra-legible, two-register dial that has been wonderfully preserved over the years. Every custard-colored luminous plot can still be found in its designated position, and not a single spot can be found on the contrasting white registers. My only gripe is that the case seems to be a tad overly polished, but you can’t have it all I guess.
Your last vintage chronograph for the week is not a particularly rare or ultra-desirable watch, just one that stood out to me as a captivating design, and likely a decent value upon the end of the auction. This Dugena bears the name of the famed Autodromo Nazionale Monza circuit on its dial, and after spending far too much time ogling the outstanding red and light-grey accents, I knew it surely had a place in this week’s roundup.
At 36 mm across, it’s sized comparably to watches like the earlier Rolex Daytonas and Heuer Carreras, meaning that it’s relatively understated in today’s standards, and will have no problem hiding under your cuff. If you’re looking to get into the vintage chronograph game, this might be a good piece to start with.