Newcomers on the watch scene may have been few and far between at the salons of 2016, but when you have golden oldies of this calibre, nobody is going to complain. Some good things definitely get better with age, and these iconic watches from the last century zoom through the decades with their powerful personalities intact, tweaked and upgraded with modern engineering. Destined to fuel nostalgia among fans of vintage watches, these resilient tough guys are here for the long run.
We have to rewind to 1976 to set the stage for this golden oldie, the year Jack Heuer designed the Monza watch to celebrate Niki Lauda’s first world championship title with Ferrari. The original Heuer Monza Chronograph, designed when Heuer (now TAG Heuer) was the official timekeeper of Team Ferrari (1971-1979), was awarded to the Ferrari One team and came in a black cushion-shaped case with a pulsometer to measure heart rate, and a tachymeter scale on the bezel to measure speed, and is considered a trophy among collectors of TAG Heuer watches.
The Heuer Monza Chronograph 40th anniversary reissue is faithful to the racy aesthetics of the original and incorporates the pulsometer and tachymeter scale on the bezel, along with the original font. The iconic, all-black, 42mm cushion-shaped case is now constructed in titanium - the original was a 39mm steel case - offering a lighter and more shock-resistant material that has been coated with titanium carbide for a sleek, matte black look. Faithful to the original, the dial features two chronograph counters for elapsed times, a date window at 6 o´clock, and vintage orange-coloured luminescence for the indices and hands. The engine has been souped-up with an in-house automatic movement - calibre 17 - and the screwed-down caseback engraved with the historic Heuer logo is water-resistant to 100 metres. Presented on a leather strap with groovy perforations, just like its ancestor, the £4,000 price tag will get the pulse of vintage remake fans racing.
Originally designed by Blancpain in 1953 for an elite unit of French navy combat divers, the Fifty Fathoms was a robust, luminous professional dive watch with an epoxy bezel that could be rotated in one direction only. Many of the characteristics developed for these Blancpain watches have become standard features on diving models, such as dark dials with clear luminescent markings and the life-saving unidirectional rotating bezel.
Revisited in ceramic, Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is a vision in blue and one of my favourite dive watches of 2016. The sleek, grey plasma ceramic case and gorgeous deep blue dial evoke the colours of the sea, and the reassuring clicks of the bezel are enough to transport you to the location of your next dive. A rugged dive companion, these iconic watches are water-resistant to 300 metres and have a superlative automatic movement with a beefy 5-day power reserve.
Thanks to its uncanny ability to design watches that never grow old, Rolex has consolidated a global empire. And when it comes to legendary racing watches, the Rolex Daytona takes pole position. Launched in 1963, the Rolex Daytona is named after the famous racetrack in Daytona, Florida and was engineered as a functional, high-performance racing driver’s companion with easy-to-read contrasting black and white counters on the dial. Immortalised by Paul Newman, the technical and sporty good looks of these Rolex watches for men, coupled with the resilient and water-resistant Oyster case, won over a legion of fans both on and off the racing circuit.
The monochrome Rolex Cosmograph Daytona returns to the fast lane in 2016 in a 40mm stainless steel declination, with a sleek and lustrous black ceramic bezel (Cerachrom) and the classic tachymetric scale to measure average speed over a given distance. Equipped with an in-house automatic calibre 4130 and a 72-hour power reserve, the chronograph conforms to the stringent manufacturing tolerances of +2/-2 seconds-a-day demanded across the board for all Rolex watches, earning it the title of Superlative Chronometer.
Moonwatch fans are in for a real treat, so don’t be put off by the somewhat ascetic name of the new Omega watch, christened the CK2998. The name refers to a 1959 classic Omega Speedmaster, which is one of the most sought-after vintage Speedmasters in the world. Using the 1959 model as its muse, the CK2998 has been tweaked for a new generation of Moonwatch fans with a handsome deep blue colour scheme on the tachymetric scale, chronograph counters and minutes track. In keeping with tradition, the Alpha hour and minute hands and the lollipop chronograph seconds hand of the original model are all faithfully replicated. Housed in a 39.7mm steel case, the manual-winding mechanical movement known as calibre 1861 is the very same movement that powered the Moonwatch to the Moon. A limited edition of just 2,998, collectors of these Omega watches will be delighted to discover its earthly price tag of £4,100.