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Retro Watches That Will Blow Your Mind

These watches are rare, typically expensive, and feature some truly innovative mechanics.

Marcus Cagleby Marcus Cagle

We’ve written extensively on the subject of watches here at Crave, but one subset of the watch market we don’t really tackle all that often are the amazingly cool retro and vintage stylings. These watches are rare, typically expensive, and feature some truly innovative mechanics, the likes of which were borrowed for use in other projects and continue to inspire tech that we still use to this day.

The watches themselves though, are masterful. They are equal parts form and function and watches timepieces made by classic watchmakers, such as A. Lange & Söhne, Patek Philippe, and others are just as impressive today as they were the day they were first purchased.

Let’s take a look at a few of these retro watches.

Retro Watches for Men

Omega Chronostop

Omega Chronostop

Photo: Analog/Shift.

 

This creation by Omega, a Geneva-based watchmaker, looks just as luxurious as it did when it was originally introduced in 1966. It’s a great collectors piece and features incredibly accurate mechanical elements such and an 865 caliber movement (which inspired many current movements) with 17 jewels to keep it running as smoothly today as it did over 40 years ago.

Breitling Top Time

Breitling Top Time James Bond Watch

Photo: William-May.co.uk.

 

If you’re looking for vintage cool, there’s nothing cooler than James Bonds’ watch, which is still worn by none other than Sean Connery. The classic timepieces features a black face with two chromos  silver hands and a wide range of classic case options such as the hand-stitched version worn by Connery.

IWC MK XI

IWC MK XI

Photo: professionalwatches.com.

 

This one will set you back nearly $6,000 dollars, but it’s a classic military inspired piece designed in 1940 to be worn by soldiers during WWII. Obviously, the mechanics are impeccable and the signature caliber 89 movement is wrapped in an anti-magnetic cage. The watch is said to feature one of the finest hand-wound movements of the last century and while military-inspired, the white face with a compass, futuristic-looking numbers and dials with the signature army green band would be just as at home on modern day Wall Street as it was on the beaches of Normandy.

Rolex Submariner

Rolex Submariner

Photo: Rolex.

 

Got an extra 200 grand laying around? Then this Rolex is the watch for you. The quirky design is almost playful with its peace sign second hand and the black face with white markings all encompassed by mechanics designed with precision in mind. The watch was a favorite of Steve McQueen in the 50s and the stainless steel band, self-winding movement and water resistance to 300-meters (1,000 feet) would make it an excellent addition to any watch collector and the perfect piece for a day of urchin diving followed by a night at your favorite pub with a wonderful glass of red.

These watches certainly aren’t cheap, but timeless pieces like these rarely are. While they’re firmly out of the reach of most collectors, the solid mechanics would make them just as expensive – or more so – should they be released to this day. Some would argue, in fact, that the mechanics then were superior to those of today, and to an extent they’re correct. Lower-end watches then featured better mechanics and movements than the same low-end watches today. High-end watches, on the other hand, have always been costly and have always utilized some of the best watchmaking technology available to the makers.

No matter when you were born, great watches are great watches and the retro watches mentioned in this list are some of the best of their era, and would certainly hold their own against the modern watches of today.

What retro watches would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.