If nostalgia and romance are what you look for in a watch, vintage-inspired watches are your go-to. Classic forms meet a retro old-school charm, translating in a watch that is sleek and simple, and easy to wear. Where it can be entrancing to get lost in the newer delicate tangles of tourbillons or wearable tech, vintage-inspired watches are on the rise for those who love to bear a link of history on their wrist, and for those who love to look like they’ve just stepped off an episode of Mad Men.
Drawing from the themes of the mid-1900s, check out our list of vintage-inspired watches here. From squared cases to pastel colours and chunky numerals, there’s a sense of history within the horology, and a reminder that design styles do not have to be new to be relevant.
Jump To / Table of Contents
Swiss watchmaker RADO recently unveiled a limited edition series of The RADO Tradition 1965, celebrating past designs in an updated, contemporary form. Inspired by the Manhattan skyline, the unique watches are a bold statement, captivating anyone who views them with their strong squared day-date complication window, with RADO’s signature red anchor positioned at 9 o’clock. Together with a silver-coloured sun brushed dial and rhodium-plated hands, the RADO Tradition 1965 M Auto is a treat for lovers of timepieces past and present. With a ‘70s style warm cognac-coloured leather strap, it embodies, as RADO puts it, “tradition, updated for the 21st Century.”
Categorised by style of the sixties and seventies, German watchmaker Glashütte boasts an entire vintage-inspired collection, bringing to life a contemporary interpretation of the two dynamic decades. The Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date watch serves as a streamlined, soft-edge, and aerodynamic reminder of classic 1970s designs, with a galvanised silver dial and a Louisiana alligator leather strap. The flowing curves of the stainless steel case present a sporty look that is easy to wear, with the chronograph of 30 minutes display unfolding a strong yet understated retro charm.
Gaining many fans after its debut at Baselword 2016, the Tissot Heritage 1936 is often described as a pocket watch redesigned for the wrist. A mechanical hand-wound timepiece, the round case and incredible transparent caseback give Tissot’s heritage model an intriguing edge. It’s a casual watch, with curved numerals and Arabic indexes on its dial, yet once the strap is removed and the hinged caseback is opened, a beautiful ETA 6498-1 movement is revealed. The wearer is invited to unfold and explore the story of the timepiece, in a way that mimics the historical pocket watch in contemporary form.
Fun and refreshing to wear, NOMOS Glashütte Tetra Kleene may be a slender watch, yet with a striking square face and a 1950s-style pastel mint dial, it’s a timepiece that pops with personality. Somewhat reminiscent of a vintage alarm clock, the German watchmakers playfully lean into a colourful interpretation of retro style. It’s a straight-forward and clear design, that is still in keeping with the times — quite literally, as while it is hand-wound, also features a golden power reserve indicator to notify wearers when exactly to wind the watch. Vintage in design and character, it has been adapted to suit a new modern lifestyle.
Inspired by the chic outfits of the 1950s, the de GRISOGONO New Retro collection redefines retro style in a way that is forward-looking without forgetting its roots. The sleek watches are subtle about their tribute, delicately ‘squaring the circle’ of the dial case and using a bold typeface for its numerals. The black-lacquered gold crown sits at an unusual point at 12 o’clock, adding a new sophisticated edge to a classic and smooth appearance. Honouring the past while creating designs for the future, de GRISOGONO understands what in essence makes vintage-inspired watches so appealing — that is, to play with the concept of time itself, by creating something that exudes a sense of timelessness.