Why buy a vintage watch



Atlas Fine Watches LLC

The history of watchmaking stretches back to the mid 18thcentury; a pursuit that is personified by the skills of its master craftsmen and the style of its subsequent wearers. Watchmaking is, by its very nature, a unique field of artistic development.


The market for contemporary fine watches is however, one largely embodied by an outsourcing of production and an emphasis on the “branding” of heritage watchmakers. Once great names in the watch industry, with long pedigrees of producing fine quality watches in-house are now simply subsidiary labels under one corporation. In the case of Omega, Breguet and Longines, among many others, these legendary Swiss houses, are now owned and operated under the Swatch Group.


So if the watch case and dial is a Swatch in all but name, what about the movement, the beating heart of your timepiece? Unfortunately the story is little better here. Due to the crisis in the Swiss watch industry that came to a head in the 90’s, a single manufacturer emerged under the ownership of Swatch - ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse.


Much has been written elsewhere about the almost ubiquitous ETA movements that dominate the watch market today, even amongst what one would consider fine watches. Without crossing a threshold of at least $10,000 a buyer, regardless of brand, will likely be buying a mass-produced / mass-manufactured watch movement from ETA, or again, Swatch.


To many consumers this will have an inconsequential impact on the purchase of a watch. The dictates of “style” triumph over “substance” and the cultural / celebrity associations of the various brands dominating contemporary watchmaking overrule the realities of companies whose watches are now almost completely devoid of artisanal singularity.


Vintage watches offer a tempting alternative. Combining stylistic and mechanical integrity the creations of the mid-twentieth century afford a unique gateway into a field still dominated by the fine mechanical movements designed and built by master craftsmen. Distinctive in appearance and unique in the integrity of their movements, these timepieces embody the essence of craftsmanship at the core of the industry.