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Vintage for ever
Trend Forecaster

Vintage for ever

Friday, 20 November 2020
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

“The desire to learn is the key to understanding.”

“Thirty years in journalism are a powerful stimulant for curiosity”.

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5 min read

Have this year’s lockdowns made time for horological introspection? Yes or no, heritage reissues and vintage-inflected designs keep on coming. Here are some of 2020’s releases.

It’s the trend that keeps on giving. From fashion phenomenon, vintage watches have grown into a genre of their own, buoyed by demand from one of the most powerful consumer forces: millennials and their belief in a more sustainable world. Whether simply inspired by a heritage model or a 1:1 recreation, vintage watches are there to remind us there is no future without a past.

Audemars Piguet [Re]master01

Audemars Piguet made just 307 chronographs in the decades from the 1930s to the 1950s. The [Re]master01 is a contemporary remastering of one of them: a 1943 model that is on view in the brand’s newly opened museum in Le Brassus. Only 500 of this reinterpretation will be made.

[Re]master01 © Audemars Piguet
[Re]master01 © Audemars Piguet
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition

This 500-piece limited edition of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date riffs on a Blancpain dive watch from the 1970s. The sandy beige of its dial is a reference to Death Valley where underwater photography pioneer Ernest H. Brooks II, a contributor to the Edition Fifty Fathoms project, made a spectacular dive in 1962.

Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition © Blancpain
Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition Blancpain
Breitling AVI Ref.765 1953 Re-Edition

Breitling travels back in time to 1953, the year the legendary Co-Pilot chronograph was launched: an interpretation of the onboard clocks produced by Breitling’s Huit Aviation department in the 1930s and 1940s, now reissued with painstaking attention to detail.

AVI Ref.765 1953 Re-Edition © Breitling
AVI Ref.765 1953 Re-Edition © Breitling
Bulgari Aluminium

Back in the 1990s, passengers boarding an Alitalia 747 Jumbo Jet couldn’t fail to have noticed, emblazoned across its side, a gigantic Bulgari Aluminium; a watch that turned heads for not one but two unconventional materials, namely rubber and aluminium. Some 30 years on, the Bulgari Aluminium returns as a sport-luxe watch for today’s jetsetting crowd.

Aluminium © Bulgari
Aluminium © Bulgari
Cartier Tank Asymétrique

Having already imagined multiple incarnations of his rectangular Tank watch – in a world of round watches, already a radical departure from the norm – in 1937 Louis Cartier went one step further with the Tank Asymétrique, tilting the dial by 30° inside a lozenge-shaped case. This reissue carries on the legend of a watch that is truly one-of-a-kind.

Tank asymétrique © Cartier
Tank asymétrique © Cartier
Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 Infinity

The charm of Art Deco is brought to the fore by the Vintage 1945, from the delicate camber of a rectangular case, underscored by gadroons, to the dauphine hands. Girard-Perregaux lends a touch of timeless elegance to this Infinity version with the addition of a deep black onyx dial.

Vintage 1945 Infinity © Girard Perregaux
Vintage 1945 Infinity © Girard Perregaux
Glashütte Original Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920

This year Glashütte Original is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the flying tourbillon, imagined by Alfred Helwig from Breguet’s invention. The classic design of this commemorative watch is inspired by historic models that Helwig and his students made at the German School of Watchmaking in Glashütte. Adding to its understated elegance, the tourbillon is visible only from the back.

Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 © Glashütte Original
Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 © Glashütte Original
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Kingsman Knife Watch

Jaeger-LeCoultre made this watch to coincide with the release, in 2021, of The King’s Man. The film takes us 100 years back in time to the origins of the Kingsman agency. Similarly inspired by the past, the Knife Watch builds on Jaeger-LeCoultre’s longstanding expertise in the creation of ultra-thin movements and specifically a pocket watch from 1907, known as the Couteau – French for “knife”.

Master Ultra Thin Kingsman Knife watch © Jaeger-LeCoultre
Master Ultra Thin Kingsman Knife watch Jaeger-LeCoultre
Montblanc Heritage Manufacture Pulsograph Limited Edition

Inspiration for this neo-dandy watch came from classic Minerva wristwatches of the 1940s-50s and, specifically, the chronographs a physician would have used to measure a patient’s pulse. A tobacco-brown dial, matched with pink gold, accentuates the vintage feel.

Heritage Manufacture Pulsograph Limited Edition © Montblanc
Heritage Manufacture Pulsograph Limited Edition Montblanc
Panerai Radiomir Venti – 45MM

Panerai’s stalwart fans can be proud, for they are the inspiration behind this 1,020-piece limited edition from the Italian brand. Named Radiomir Venti in reference to the 20 years since the launch of paneristi.com, it brings a contemporary sensitivity to the expressive vocabulary of the first Radiomir, which made its debut in the second half of the 1930s.

Radiomir Venti – 45mm © Panerai
Radiomir Venti – 45mm © Panerai
Patek Philippe Split-Seconds Chronograph Reference 5370

In 2015 Patek Philippe introduced its first split-seconds chronograph, powered by a traditionally constructed, in-house movement, CHR 29-535, that gave rise to six patents. This new execution, in platinum with a Grand Feu enamel dial in blue and applied Breguet numerals in gold, is the epitome of classic watchmaking from a pre-digital age.

Chronographe à rattrapante Référence 5370 © Patek Philippe
Chronographe à rattrapante Référence 5370 © Patek Philippe
TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition

For its 160th anniversary, TAG Heuer has released several reiterations of the Carrera over the course of the year. The first of these commemorative launches was the Carrera Silver, a fresh interpretation of a monochromatic silver-dialled tricompax model from 1964, often referred to as the 2447S. Vintage satisfaction guaranteed, with the bonus of the very modern Heuer 02 calibre inside.

Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition © TAG Heuer
Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition © TAG Heuer
Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix self-winding

Introduced in 2018, the Fiftysix is, to paraphrase Vacheron Constantin, “an audacious mix of eras”. Its part-retro, part-contemporary silhouette takes root in an iconic 1956 watch. Adding to this vintage appeal is a new sepia dial, cased in pink gold.

Fiftysix automatique © Vacheron Constantin
Fiftysix automatique © Vacheron Constantin
Zenith El Primero A3818 Revival "The Cover Girl"

Ever since it appeared on the front of a book retracing Zenith’s history, the El Primero A3818 has been known to collectors as the “Cover Girl”. Introduced in 1971, it was manufactured for a brief period only, which makes it one of the most sought-after El Primeros. This year the “Cover Girl” makes its comeback as a limited re-edition of 100 that stays true to the original.

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