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Chronograph Watches: What does the Vintage Market offer you?

What are Chronograph Watches?

Chronograph watches, not to be confused with chronometer watches, generally serve two simple purposes: keeping time and acting as stopwatches. Sometimes, this stopwatch feature can even tell you the time to the hundredth of a second. Chronograph watches have a very rich history, dating back to the early 20th century. At that time, they were mainly used for scientific or military purposes. Over time, the chronograph complication has become one of the most used and most seen complications. 

A key feature of most chronographs is the sub-seconds dial. Luxury chronograph watches have characteristics that distinguish them from ordinary watches. They usually have a small seconds chronograph subdial (usually at the 6 o’clock position), or a tachymeter bezel to show the speed. Due to their sportiness and practicality, chronographs are usually made of durable materials such as high-quality stainless steel with  sapphire crystals. These vintage chronograph movements tend to be more fragile than simpler complications and therefore can cost more to get serviced. Keep that in mind when searching for your next vintage chrono!

Rolex Daytona

The Rolex Daytona was originally introduced under the name Cosmograph Daytona. This name however changed to simply Daytona in 1965. The Cosmograph Daytona featured a tachymeter bezel, making it a popular choice for professional racing drivers. There are some ‘4 digit’ Daytona’s that are highly sought after. These were produced in small amounts and have been worn by some famous people. For instance, the actor Paul Newman. He is famous for the now called Paul Newman Dial. These are characterized by its three-color layout, with a black outer track, white sub-dials, and a contrasting color for the hour markers and hands. The font used for the numerals is also distinctive, with a stylized art deco style.

Pricing wise, these watches can go anywhere from €20.000 to upwards of €1 million. For example, a 1963 Rolex Daytona ref. 6239 with a Paul Newman dial can sell for upwards of €1 million. Even more affordable vintage Daytona’s, such as the ref. 6263, can command prices of €50.000 or more.

Omega Speedmaster

The Omega Speedmaster is another iconic chronograph watch that is highly rated in the vintage watch community. The Ref. 145.003 was the first Speedmaster model to feature a tachymeter bezel, and it was also the first watch worn on the moon. The Omega Speedmaster was originally introduced in 1957 as a racing chronograph watch. The Ref. 145.003 was produced from 1967 to 1972, and it was the model that Buzz Aldrin wore on the moon in 1969. This made the Speedmaster a one of a kind, and it is now one of the most popular vintage chronograph watches in the world.

Prices for vintage Speedmasters can vary depending on a number of factors, including the reference number, condition, rarity, and demand. However, in general, vintage Speedmasters can fetch prices that are significantly higher than their original retail price. For example, a 1967 Omega Speedmaster Ref. 145.003 in good condition can sell for upwards of €10.000. Even more affordable vintage Speedmasters, such as the ref. 105.003, can command prices of €5.000 or more.

Heuer Monaco

As some of the watches that are already mentioned, this watch was also really popular in the racing scene. The brand Heuer, now known as Tag Heuer, has a lot of their history because of motorsports. Heuer were the first to produce specialized timing gear for race car drivers, The Heuer Monaco is a unique chronograph watch that is known for its square case and often blue dial. It was the first square-cased chronograph watch to be water resistant, and it was also one of the first chronograph watches to be featured on the wrist of an actor in a well-known movie. Steve McQueen wore one in the movie "Le Mans". 

These vintage pieces are hard to find, so the prices tend to vary a lot. Vintage Heuer Monaco's are highly sought-after. For example, a 1969 Heuer Monaco Ref. 1133B in good condition can sell for upwards of €50.000. Even more affordable vintage Monaco’s, such as the ref. 1133T, can command prices of €20.000 or more.

What is next?

The vintage chronograph market is a fascinating one. These watches offer a unique combination of history, rarity, and style. Whether you are a fan of vintage watches or simply appreciate the engineering behind a well-made chronograph, there is something for everyone in the vintage market. Some of the most popular vintage chronographs include the Rolex Daytona, the Omega Speedmaster, and the Heuer Monaco. These watches are all highly sought-after and can command remarkably high prices. However, if you are willing to invest, a vintage chronograph can be a truly special and rewarding timepiece.

When buying a vintage chronograph, it is important to do your research and buy from a reputable dealer. This will help you ensure that you are getting a genuine watch in good condition. The vintage chronograph market is constantly evolving, so it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. This will help you find the perfect watch for your collection.

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