Re-issues are becoming a bit of a staple of the yearly release slate at the present time. With retro the word of the moment and 70s watches back in as big a way as flares and neon, many a big brand has been plumbing the depths of their old catalogues, from Zenith’s faithful (and apparently very versatile) Chronomaster Revival to Breitling’s incredibly fun Superocean Heritage ’57 to the constant stream of throwback Seikos and heritage Longines.
Yet despite their best efforts, most longstanding watchmakers have only scratched the surface of their archives. With decades of untapped designs squirrelled away in dusty corners, there are plenty more re-issues ready to see the light of day once again. Rather than predicting what those various revival pieces will be however, we opted instead to ask some of the more knowledgeable of watch industry pundits for their opinions – not on what will be re-issued, but what should be.
Vacheron Constantin 222 – Likelihood 7/10
Vacheron have dabbled in re-issues and the heat this number’s getting at auction means it could well be their next, unless they opt for an archival deep cut.
“Given the number of new stainless steel integrated bracelet watches we’ve seen in the past couple of years it beggars belief that Vacheron Constantin hasn’t dusted off Jorg Hysek’s 1977 classic, designed to mark the brand’s 222nd anniversary. Of course, now it would no doubt serve to distract potential overseas customers. While the 222 has an enthusiastic following it’s never achieved the level of frenzy surrounding the Nautilus or the Royal Oak, but it’s the low-key charm of that broad plateau of a case, its crenulated bezel and Maltese Cross plaque that makes me want it more.” (James Buttery, Watch and Luxury Journalist).
“Two of the three so-called Holy Trinity watches that gave birth to the sport luxe genre in the 1970s – the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilus and Vacheron Constantin 222 – are already among the most coveted watches today, so the 222 would no doubt be a winner if it were re-issued. Just look at its performance at auction: last month a gold Jumbo 222 sold for CHF 78,120 (approx. £64,000), more than double its estimate. Enough said.” (Ming Liu, Watch and Luxury Journalist).
Rolex Dato-Compax Ref. 4727 – Likelihood 1/10
We won’t see a straight re-issue, but a modern re-interpretation? The argument’s there for it…
“I’d like Rolex to re-make the Dato-Compax (specifically reference 4727, if you’re reading this, M. Dufour). It could bring much-needed focus to the Cellini line, and would immediately become Rolex’s most sophisticated watch. There’s a ready-made marketing narrative in the association with celebrated skier Jean-Claude Killy, and it looks sensational. And besides, how many other top-tier watch brands only have one chronograph? Time to think beyond the Daytona.” (Chris Hall, Senior Watch Editor at Mr Porter).
Seiko 6139 ‘Pogue’ – Likelihood 5/10
Seiko missed the chance to re-release on the Pogue’s 50th anniversary last year but there’s always hope; they release enough watches each year.
“The Pogue has all the right stuff. It was the first automatic watch worn in space (1973 on the wrist of Colonel Pogue), it was Seiko’s first automatic chronograph and like all of the nicknamed Seikos, it’s damn cool. Yellow dial and pepsi-cola bezel? Sign me up. If the world was fair and just, it would be nestled alongside the modern versions of the Samurai, Tuna Can and Turtle. If only it wasn’t the second most important thing Seiko did that year… there’s a reason the ‘Pogue’ was launched just the right side of the quartz crisis.” (Sam Kessler, Editor of Oracle Time).
Longines Comet – Likelihood 6/10
Longines heritage collection is a masterclass in archival re-issues and while it’s more the classical end, it’s about time they added something a little funkier, even if it’s also a bit pricier.
“The Comet could not be more 1970s if it came dressed up in flares and cheesecloth, blasting out The Theme From Shaft. With a fantastical, rounded-square case, it houses a primary-coloured, ‘bull’s eye’, mystery dial that shows the hours via an arrow rotating on a disc, while a moving dot marks the minutes on an outer ring. “Although it will never be everyone’s cup of Blue Nun, as a piece of pure horological magic, nothing can beat it and, with the prices of originals on the ascent, a limited-edition, 21st century version would be sure to find its audience.” (Tracey Llewellyn, Editor of Telegraph Time).
IWC Ingenieur Jumbo 1976 – Likelihood 6/10
IWC hasn’t been focusing on the Ingenieur much recently, meaning a retro version is certainly long overdue.
“We know he did the Royal Oak and Nautilus, but few appreciate that Mr Genta was also behind the IWC Ingénieur of the 1970s. The great man helped IWC launch its third generation of the Ingénieur in 1976, perfectly delivering on the strategy of creating a complete ‘steel line’ (SL). The gorgeous multi-part 40mm case in a Tonneau shape with a round bezel, guilloché dial, integrated bracelet and self-winding calibre 8541B is a ripper! And to cap it off, like all horological classics, when the SL Jumbo debuted it sold less than 600 in its first year making it a resounding failure – it sure wouldn’t be if IWC launched it now!” (Justin Hast, Content Consultant).
Lemania Royal Navy and RAF Chronographs – Likelihood 0/10
There may be a Breguet with the same vibe but seeing the Lemania name on the dial? Never.
“For decades, I’ve tried to figure out what makes a watch brand re-issue a specific model, anniversaries aside. Thus it baffles me why Breguet – which absorbed the company – hasn’t exploited the love for Lemania military watches and re-released the RAF and Royal Navy chronographs. There are a many variants (black dials, the rare white dials, single- and two-button versions, symmetrical and asymmetrical cases), but the two seen here are the most familiar. Used prices? £2,500 – £8,000!” (Ken Kessler, Watch Journalist and Editor).
Breitling Sprint 2212 – Likelihood 9/10
Word from the horses mouth is that Breitling has five or so re-issues still waiting in the wings. Given this is the tangential precursor to their new Endurance Pro, it seems a very likely choice.
“Overshadowed by the Top Time thanks to its James Bond Thunderball cameo, the Sprint 2212 is the dark horse in Breitling’s re-issue stable. Featuring orange baton hands, a unique Tonneau case shape and of course, the blue ‘surfboard’ sub-dial design, the style encapsulates the late 60s vibe perfectly. It’s not all superficial either, inside beats a solid Valjoux 7733 manual wind movement which is housed in a proper steel case (unlike later versions which use a plasticky fibreglass). I’d say a faithful re-issue could do really well… and not just because I own an original!” (Tom Pettit, Managing Editor of Oracle Time).
Audemars Piguet Ref 5093 ‘Disco Volante’ – Likelihood 2/10
There’s a glimmer of hope after the [Re]Master01 but in our opinion it’s a little too out there to be likely.
“This year’s [Re]Master01 chronograph was an impeccably-executed throwback to the pre-Royal Oak era at Audemars Piguet, and I’d love them to follow it up with a version of the Disco Volante. It’s the absolute apogee of 1950s fine watchmaking: ultra-thin, exquisitely minimalistic in its way, but with a wealth of magnificently stylish detail, especially the sublime versions with an engine-turned bezel and two-tone dial. Unfortunately AP doesn’t seem to make a hand-wound, non-complication movement anymore – but given Calibre 2003 which powered the Disco Volante was in production from the 1940s to the early 2000s, perhaps they could dust it off just for me…” (Tim Barber, Watch Journalist and Editor).
Tag Heuer Monaco Sixty Nine – Likelihood 3/10
The Connected is doing well enough for TAG that they don’t need another snazzy smartwatch, no matter how painfully cool it would be.
“Are such recent models permitted among the venerable old guard gathered here? Don’t care, I’m calling it, and only partly because of my fond memories starting out on nowdefunct QP Magazine at the tender age of 23. The Sixty Nine was the cover star of issue 4, whose fifth silver colour was mistakenly printed on top of the C, M, Y and K – not my fault (honest!) and actually, unwittingly, pretty cool looking. Anyway, re-issue it now, TAG Heuer! But, with a mechanical Monaco one side and a Connected Monaco on the flip side instead of the digital Microtimer of the 2003 original. The ‘Reverso’ the high-end smartwatch market is crying out for, surely? No? Well you’re all wrong.” (Alex Doak, Watch and Luxury Journalist).
Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner Reference 7928 – Likelihood 3/10
Tudor have won plaudits for their retro Black Bay Fifty-Eight, but tangoing with Rolex’s latest, revamped Submariners might be a bit too on the nose. Then again, the Pepsi-Cola…
“Yes, Tudor. The watchmaker released its original Submariner model a year after big brother Rolex revealed the design to the world in 1953. It was a genuine alternative for those who couldn’t afford or simply didn’t want the expense of the Crown’s icon, and were prepared to make a few horological compromises in exchange. Imagine a world where we that was once again a possibility, preferably a heritage re-issue of the classic Reference 7928 (complete with square crown guards and a saw-tooth bezel), only this time with Tudor’s in-house movement capabilities.” (Ben Winstanley, Deputy Editor of Square Mile).