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10 of the Coolest Vintage-Inspired Retro Watches

Tag Heuer Carrara Skipper

Why are vintage-inspired retro watches so popular? This is something we’re always pondering as more and more 20th century inspired wards pass in front of our cameras. So many in fact that we’ve compiled a collection of 10 of the coolest retro watches we’ve reviewed for your nostalgic pleasure. In answer to the question as to why they’re popular, maybe it’s because they remind us of a time when we had very few concerns, when there was no mortgage to pay, no 40-hour-a-week job to go to, and we played in the sunshine rather than worrying about what financial or geopolitical crisis filled the evening news.

Or perhaps it’s that in our formative years we were at our most impressionable and these were the kind of watches that adorned the wrists of our earliest champions, our favourite film star, racing driver, or a hero much closer to home like our fathers or grandfathers? Either way, there’s no denying the sense of nostalgia and sentimentality that can be evoked by a simple wristwatch designed to recreate and capsulate a bygone era.

Brew Metric Automatic

Brew Metric Automatic

Structurally, the Brew Metric Automatic and its predecessors (like the Brew Metric Retro Dial featured here) are very similar. It has a 36mm diameter case made from stainless steel with 50m water resistance and a sapphire crystal. The body of the case is tonneau leading into a quasi-integrated bracelet with quick release although when it comes to shape the rounded square bezel makes more of an impact visually. Overall, the piece has a strong 70s vibe with its industrial chic qualities and vintage proportions. Also available in black PVD.

Case/dial: 36mm diameter width x 41.5mm height, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Seiko calibre NH35A, automatic, 24 jewels, 21,600 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 42h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £420

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Tag Heuer Carrara Skipper

Tag Heuer Carrara Skipper

If you’re at all familiar with vintage Skippers then chances are that you’re actually used to seeing it as part of the Autavia collection rather than the Carrera. That’s because in the 15 years that it was produced from 1968-1983 only the very first ones (approximately 300 of them) were Carreras. It’s a cool regatta-style chronograph inspired by a yacht called The Intrepid, which had blue, teal and turquoise as its signature colours. The new piece measures 39mm in diameter and houses the TH20-06 calibre.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter, stainless steel case, blue circular brushed dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Tag Heuer calibre TH20-06, automatic, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 80h power reserve
Strap: Blue fabric
Price: £5,900

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Hamilton American Classic Pan Europ

Hamilton American Classic Pan Europ

The Hamilton American Classic Pan Europ is the ultimate road trip companion. It’s built for cruising across America in a vintage mustang or across Europe in a retro 911. The display is a classy day-date with central hours, minutes and seconds with a sunray brushed dial in sage green or beige. That retro quality comes from the fact it’s inspired by the Chrono-Matic D from 1971, a watch that embraced the era of jukeboxes and roadside diners.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter, stainless steel case, beige dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Hamilton calibre H-30, automatic, 25 jewels, 21,600 vph (3 Hz) frequency, 80h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £1,070

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Baltic Hermetique Tourer

Baltic Hermétique Tourer

At first, I wasn’t entirely sold on the hour markers of the Baltic Hermétique Tourer. The way they overlap the central disc and peripheral minute track adds a layer of complexity to the design that I wasn’t sure about. However, it grows on you. The way the bold lines of the bar indexes intersect with the solid rim of the disc feels very architectural and almost retro-Art Deco, in keeping with Baltic’s usually vintage vibe. It’s also broken up nicely by the use of Arabic numerals and discs at 12/3/6/9.

Case/dial: 37mm diameter, stainless steel case, matte brown dial
Water resistance: 150m (15 bar)
Movement: Miyota calibre 9039, automatic, 24 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 42h power reserve
Strap: Tropic FKM rubber or stainless steel beads of rice bracelet or stainless steel flat link bracelet
Price: €550 (approx. £476) (strap) or €630 (approx. £545) (bracelet)

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Paulin Modul B Mechanical

Paulin Modul B Mechanical

The Paulin Modul B Mechanical is pure retro vibes with its colour palette that looks like it’s straight out of a 1970s furniture store. It has the feel of your dad’s favourite armchair, comfortable and reliable with more than its fair share of nostalgia attached. The watch features a 35mm diameter case in a tonneau shape and a vintage style box crystal. Powering it is the La Joux Perret D100 manual movement.

Case/dial: 35mm diameter, stainless steel case, brown dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Paulin calibre La Joux Perret D100, manual winding, 50h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel mesh bracelet
Price: £990

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Ollech & Wajs M-110 AS

Ollech & Wajs M-110 AS

Ollech & Wajs is in some regards the definition of a retro brand, with their boom period of design and popularity occurring during the 1960s when they provided cool tool watches to the US military. The M-110 AS is based on those retro military timepieces, which is evident via its compass bezel and radio silence minute markers – the three markers after each quarter hour in which radio is reserved exclusively for distress calls. The skindiver style case is based on the 1964 Aquaguard, which dates back to the peak period of the skindiver concept, the 60s.

Case/dial: 39.5mm diameter, stainless steel case, grey dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Soprod calibre P092, automatic, 24 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 44h power reserve
Strap: Fabric
Price: £1,318.74

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Farer Moonphase Burbidge

Farer Moonphase Burbidge

In typical Farer style, colour is at the heart of the new Burbidge moon phase – and this particular variation is by far the most intense in that respect. The arctic blue dial is a magnificently icy shade, a slightly muted take on a retro arcade. The case is a lot more subtle but no less well-done. The cushion shape of the Farer Moonphase Burbidge amps up the heritage feel, and at 38.5mm of stainless steel, sits more retro than vintage on the wrist – accessibly sized, but by no means does it feel small.

Case/dial: 38.5mm diameter, stainless steel case, arctic blue sunray dial, hand painted blue moonphase disc with pink Super-Luminova moon
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Swiss made Sellita calibre SW288-1 Ma, manual winding, 18 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 45h power reserve
Strap: Barenia leather
Price: £1,495

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Zodiac Olympos Automatic

Zodiac Olympos Automatic

The Zodiac Olympos Automatic is a striking timepiece thanks to its asymmetrical case shape, with concave top lugs and convex lower lugs. It gives the piece a kite or manta ray style design that feels particularly daring and unusual. The dial is intriguing as well with its quartered sunray finish, presented here in a luscious gold tone. I would perhaps say it feels retro in more of a crazy 60s style compared to other timepieces in this article that feel more seventies or eighties style.

Case/dial: 37.5mm diameter, stainless steel case with gold coloured coating, gold coloured dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Zodiac calibre STP1-11, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 44h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £849

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Tissot Sideral

Tissot Sideral

The Sideral is from the 1960s/70s golden age of watch design. But rather than echo the slew of industrial, faceted watches that came out at the time, the original watch was all about materials. Specifically, it used a monobloc fibreglass case, lightweight and at the time incredibly innovative. The colourful material was formed into an equally fun barrel-shaped case (it’s wider than what I’d call tonneau) for a seriously cool combination. Well, it made its return last year but in modern carbon.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter, forged carbon and stainless steel case, black PVD bezel, black dial
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Tissot calibre Powermatic 80, automatic, 21,600 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 80h power reserve
Strap: Perforated rubber with bracelet fastening system
Price: £960

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Raymond Weil Freelancer 2790

Raymond Weil Freelancer 2790

From the get-go, the Freelancer 2790 is an incredibly handsome watch. The 40mm case is pebble-smooth and, while cushion cases tend to feel a little larger on the wrist than their circular equivalents, it’s still an easy size to get away with. It’s a little squarer than some cushion cases out there, but that’s what gives it its retro TV-shaped appeal. In contrast, the dial is relatively modern, in a reserved kind of way, constructed of concentric circles for a lovely, layered look.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter, stainless steel case, blue or green gradient dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Raymond Weil Calibre RW 1212 (in-house movement developed with Sellita), automatic, 27 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 38h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp and double push-security system
Price: £2,295

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.