As it goes for just about anything “military”, issued timepieces are some of the most collectible in the watch world. Between enthusiasts looking for a rugged watch to go on adventures with, fashionable folks pulling off military-inspired looks, and history buffs bolstering their military regalia collection, the military watch market faces the perfect storm of demand. Couple that demand with a fixed number of issued timepieces, and you start to see the whole picture. The rabbit hole of military watches and their history delves very deeply, very quickly, so we’ve broken our overview into two parts: those countries from the West with influential and interesting military timekeeping history, and those from the East. This week, the West — America, Britain, Germany, France, and the unlikely Brazil, Argentina and Peru — flexes its stuff.
A Compendium of Wearable History
10 Top-Notch Watches that Won't Break the Bank
When building anything, one must begin with strong foundation. A watch collection is no different. While anyone, given the choice, would undoubtedly begin and end with only finest examples of haute horological hardware, we can’t all justify blowing junior’s college and post-grad funds on something small and shiny. A conservative budget should not dissuade wide-eyed complication connoisseurs however: there are many excellent mechanical options available for the budding collector. We’ve selected ten rock solid options, both vintage and new, that would proudly produce any one-percenter’s tan line. So get started. Junior will thank you — it’s his heirloom, anyhow.
If you’re like us, you have a long list of watches you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series “Want This, Get This” presents a lust-worthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we’ve found a vintage Cold War-era military chronograph and a modern one that has the same milspec look.
The sincerest form of flattery?
Within the watch industry there exists a thriving category of timepieces that is wholly unoriginal. This is the realm of the so-called “homage” watch. While legions of fans gratefully purchase these ersatz Grail timepieces, homages also have their detractors — those who write them off as mere derivative copies that don’t deserve attention.GP’s Jason Heaton dives into the debate.
Time to Drive
Wheels and gears, second hands and tach needles, power trains and power reserves. Men have always been fascinated by time, speed, accuracy and power — and the beautiful combination of high-end timepieces and exotic roadgoing automobiles captures these obsessions appropriately. And whether the watch of choice is used to measure lap splits or to simply echo the same kind of quality and heritage as his car, you can be assured that careful time was taken to select both. We match up some of the best in timekeeping and automobilia in Gear Patrol style.
The Heuer Carrera can be summed up in one word: legible. When Jack Heuer, the great-grandson of Heuer’s founder, decided to introduce a new line of chronograph watches in 1963, ease of reading was the foremost design goal. Taking inspiration from the dashboard dials of racing cars, Jack developed what is arguably one of the best-looking chronographs ever made. These were watches designed to be worn on the track and in the cockpit of the world’s fastest cars, and many of the best drivers of the 1960s and 1970s chose Heuers. This was a time before brand ambassador programs paid celebrities to wear their watches; drivers like Mario Andretti, Gilles Villeneuve, Clay Regazzoni, Jochen Rindt, Niki Lauda, and Jo Siffert wore Heuers just because they liked them.
Racing for 50 years
This year, Swiss watch manufacturer TAG-Heuer celebrates the 50th anniversary of their iconic timepiece, the Carrera, so it was only natural that they throw a party in its honor. And oh what a party is was. Think champagne, vintage Porsches and models serving hors d’oeuvres and you’re halfway there. Held in the shadow of New York City’s celebrated Highline Park at a converted art studio, the bash was a fitting tribute to an iconic timepiece that has so indelibly imprinted itself on the worlds of horology and auto racing.
Vintage watch buying is enjoying incredible popularity, thanks to a community of savvy collectors, great internet resources for both learning about and buying old watches, and a nostalgic yearning for quality products from an era before planned obsolescence. Old watches also represent great value, the chance to wear a piece of history and, if you’re lucky, a good investment. Not to mention, they just look cool. We explore just how you should go about buying one of these beauties.
This article is Volume 2 in our special Icons series for Timekeeping, written by our guru Jason Heaton. In case you missed it, be sure to catch our first Icons article, Volume 1: Super Compressor Dive Watch. 1970 was a year of great ups and downs for the mechanical chronograph. The vaunted Omega Speedmaster helped…
Complications? Yes. Complicated? Let's discuss.
The follow-up to our last Timekeeping feature (The Dive Watch, Deconstructed), Jason Heaton delves into the hallowed world of the Chronograph. There is no other type of watch that requires as much interaction from its wearer as the chronograph. Even at rest a chronograph dutifully waits, its sweep hand standing still, alert and vertical, inviting…