4 Vintage Driving Watches You Can Buy Right Now
In last week’s roundup, I mentioned the fact that despite the fact that the new Ref. 16500LN Daytona’s aren’t limited edition releases, it’s still virtually impossible to get a hold of one from your local authorized dealer. The various grey market dealers on the web are most definitely aware of this, and the prices at which they’re selling new and lightly used examples at reflect this.
At just shy of $20,000, this brand new example is being sold for roughly $8,000 more than retail. Although the timeless aesthetic of the panda dial and black ceramic bezel sure is easy on the eyes, I personally can’t understand paying that kind of money for a modern watch that’s going to be readily available in under a year.
While all eyes in the world of vintage watch collecting are now on Heuer’s Autavia wristwatches, it’s important not to forget about their predecessors—the early, Autavia-branded, dash-mounted instrument clusters, which made up the better part of Heuer’s business before it ventured into the wristwatch market.
Back in the early the 1970s, Heuer launched a new and slightly more affordable model in its collection, known as the Easy-Rider. It was produced in two variants, one with Leonidas branding, and another endorsed by Jacky Ickx, featuring his name and signature on the dial. These watches sold for around $50 a piece back in 1973, which was significantly less than Heuer’s other offerings, like the Monaco and Carrera.
Essentially, Heuer was able to sell these manual wind chronographs at such low prices through the use of low cost materials. On less expensive examples, you’ll often find the Ebauches Bettlach movement in a fiberglass resin case, whereas the Jacky Ickx model featured chromium plating. All in all, it’s a very cool piece for the money, and while they unfortunately don’t still sell for $50, they’re a relative bargain in the today’s vintage watch market.
Heuer Autavia Dash-mounted Cluster
Price: AU $5,500
During one of my daily searches for new vintage watch listings on eBay, I came across a very example of a dash-mounted Autavia instrument cluster, that looks to be in great shape. I especially like the typeface used to write Autavia on the dial, as it’s not seen on any of the Autavia wristwatches, as far as I know. You could mount this on the dash of your favourite classic, but I think it would make quite the smart-looking desktop ornament of sorts.
Price: CHF $40,000
Of all the Speedmaster variants produced over the years, few are as striking and bold on the wrist as examples featuring the coveted “racing” dial, with orange, red, and yellow accents. Seeing as the Speedmaster was first launched as a driver’s watch, the racing dial could be seen as a nod back to the brand’s original intentions for the sporting chronograph. Against the light grey dial, these vibrant details really pop, making it one of the most desirable asymmetrical Speedmaster’s ever produced.
At the moment, there’s a transitional Ref. 145.022-68 up for grabs from the Roy and Sacha Davidoff in Geneva, and it’s a good one. The dial is in decent shape, with minimal marking, and the case looks to be unpolished, and the bezel has faded over time to a pleasing tone of light grey. If I was assembling a collection of rare and important driver’s watches, a racing dial Speedy would certainly be on my shortlist.