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06/10/2021
 5 minutes

Classic vs. Vintage vs. Futuristic: What does your watch say about you?

By Donato Andrioli
Classic vs. Vintage vs. Futuristic: What does your watch say about you?

Do you consider a timeless classic to be your ideal watch? Perhaps you relish the hunt after that one-of-a-kind vintage timepiece? Or maybe you go for the unique futuristic watch that no one else is wearing? In this article, I consider some of the reasons watch wearers choose one timepiece over another. As a community of passionate watch collectors, we’re usually interested in a broad spectrum of watch types. At the same time, you’ve surely noticed your own tendency to reach for certain models again and again. So let’s find out what this says about you.

The Timeless Classic: A Safe Bet

The reasons to choose a timeless classic are simple: For one, these watches are totally uncomplicated. You can’t go wrong with them. As a lover of the classics, you’re not interested in experimentation, and you take great pleasure in the broad popularity of your watch. You can be sure that your watch will never go out of style because the designs have stood the test of time. The Rolex Submariner, for example, has remained essentially the same watch since its 1954 release, despite the innovations and improvements it has undergone over the past 67 years. A steel watch with a black dial and black bezel goes with anything and everything. What’s not to love?

Omega Speedmaster
Even decades later, its looks have hardly changed: the Omega Speedmaster Professional.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional is a watch whose looks have changed even less than the Submariner’s. It hasn’t had to. With a timepiece like this, we find another reason why watch collectors and wearers love a timeless classic: the great history and achievements that these watches represent. The Speedmaster became the first watch on the Moon in 1969 and has accompanied countless NASA adventures. The Rolex Explorer was the first watch atop Mount Everest. And the Submariner enjoys its fame, not least due to its role as the original Bond watch.

That’s the wonderful thing about timeless classics: You don’t have to be an astronaut, a mountaineer, or a secret agent, but with these legendary watches, you’re still part of a great story. Name recognition and iconic design are just further arguments in favor of going for classic timepieces. The Rolex Datejust is arguably one of the most recognizable watches, having appeared in countless movies and graced the wrists of many celebrities.

Rolex Submariner 114060
An iconic look meets timeless design: You can’t go wrong with the Rolex Submariner.

Do you wear a timeless classic? Then you’re probably looking for a watch that will accompany you for a lifetime. You value a watch on your wrist that has been on great adventures and has a legendary reputation. However, daring experiments like the ones that made these timepieces global icons in the first place are not your cup of tea. You prefer to invest your hard-earned money into a classic and classy watch. In any case, with these watches, you can rest assured that other collectors will respect you for the excellent choice you’ve made.

The Vintage Watch: Perfectionism Meets Nostalgia

It’s not just about nostalgia and reveling in bygone days. Wearers of vintage watches are usually experienced watch collectors and know exactly what they want. A modern interpretation of a classic won’t cut it for them. They’re looking for a specific reference, that one watch that captures the spirit of a particular era.

The Formula 1 legend of yesteryear, the Heuer Autavia from 1962, is one such watch. Its striking design immediately evokes the 1960s and 70s. The fact that countless legendary racing drivers such as Jochen Rindt, Jo Siffert, Mario Andretti, and Gilles Villeneuve wore various references of the watch has made the Autavia a true watch icon – and not just for on the racetrack. This kind of history is the stuff that makes the heart of every vintage collector skip a beat.

Heuer Autavia Ref. 1163
A perfect encapsulation of the spirit of the sixties and seventies and an icon of racing: the Heuer Autavia.

If you wear vintage watches, you’re not interested in the instant gratification of ordering your timepiece with the click of a button. A large part of the fascination comes from hunting and meticulously searching for a particular watch. It’s a wonderful feeling after a long search to finally snag that Breitling Navitimer from the year you were born or to find that quirky Tudor Advisor from the fifties in its classic size and pristine condition. Adding to the thrill of the hunt is the fact that true treasures are lurking in the vintage world, which other watch collectors and wearers may not even have on their radar. For example, the Rolex Bubble Back – nicknamed for its thick, round caseback – is practically a bargain in both its steel and gold versions, despite its age. What’s more, it will likely only increase in value as vintage watches become rarer the older they are.

Vintage watches are a science in and of themselves, and if you wear them, you love being an expert in the field. Or maybe you’re still on the journey to becoming one. But what’s definitely not for you is chasing a trend and buying a watch simply because everyone wants it. To earn a place on your wrist – or at least on your wish list for now – a watch must have one thing above all else: a history.

Futuristic Watches: Passion as a Statement

Wearers of futuristic watches are also fans of unique and unconventional timepieces. Only those watches that very few people own and that even fewer dare to wear will make it into your collection. The watch you place on your wrist should set you apart from all other wearers and collectors. Your selection is all about making a statement and showing how much you love watches. Discussions with other watch lovers about the Nautilus or Daytona quickly bore you to tears. After all, to you, being passionate about watches means truly living for watches. Hence, you include only the most exceptional pieces in your collection.

Do you identify with this description as a watch wearer? Then the Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II Titanium White could be the perfect timepiece for you. Limited to 200 pieces, the watch was designed by tattoo artist Maxime Büchi and is not only a true work of art for your wrist but also a statement. This watch stands out from the crowd. When I look at this 45-mm watch, I can’t help but think of futuristic supercars like the Lamborghini Aventador.

Hublot
The Lamborghini Aventador of watches: the Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II Titanium White

Perhaps you think this comparison to a car is a bit far-fetched. In fact, Audemars Piguet takes this idea a step further: the Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix combines watchmaking with the automobile form in an uncompromising way. The dial of this strictly limited-edition watch resembles a dashboard in a super sports car, and the bezel is unmistakably meant to represent a ventilated brake disc.

All futuristic watches have one thing in common: They are deliberately designed not to cater to the masses. The MB&F Platinum Legacy Machine 1 is limited to just 33 pieces. Its imaginative design mixes the feel of the industrial revolution with a steam-punk vision of the future and would be right at home in a Tim Burton movie. However, best of all is the attention to detail that permeates this watch’s high-level craftsmanship. If you’re a wearer of futuristic watches, that’s probably exactly why you chose such a timepiece. You want to know that you have a rare masterpiece on your wrist that fundamentally reinterprets the long watchmaking tradition. Therein lies your passion, which you confidently and conspicuously put on display with the highly unique accessory on your wrist.

Read more

Editors’ Picks of the Week: Certina, Breguet, and Rolex

Chrono24 Buyer’s Guide: Hublot Big Bang

The Perfect Three-Watch Collection Under $10,000


About the Author

Donato Andrioli

As an author at WATCHVICE, Donato works closely with company founders Jenni and Kai to produce video scripts for their German-language YouTube channel. Donato is …

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