I’m a huge fan of vintage watches. This will be a fact lost on absolutely no one. There is an elegance, style and sophistication to a timepiece from the golden era of the 1950’s and 1960’s (dare I say even the 1970’s) that is hard to replicate in a new watch that can never bear the same heritage for obvious reasons.
But here’s a question I struggle to answer, are vintage watches cool?
Leaving aside the muddy waters of what constitutes cool, the simple answer is I don’t really know. What I do know for sure is that there has been a real surge in people buying vintage time pieces as a statement of fashion and style, especially amongst a younger audience who might traditionally have defaulted to a new designer watch. And, I have a theory as to why this is happening!
Enjoying the The Crown on Netflix recently I found myself watch spotting as I always do and was suitably impressed by the authenticity of the stylists who had put together a collection of Jaeger Le Coultres, Rolexes, Omegas and Patek Phillippes’ that not only captured the essence of the early mid-century, but also managed to faithfully represent the actual watches owned and worn by the main protagonists.
Likewise as an amateur film buff I found myself recently studying the citizen bullhead adorning the wrist of Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarrantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (there is some discussion about the age appropriateness of this watch I believe but it looked terrific). Indeed not that long ago I can remember drooling over the Omega worn by Ryan Gosling in that tribute to a golden age,
La La Land (seamaster? constellation? De Ville? - take your pick) What is not in doubt though, is that the big screen in Hollywood and the smaller screen to an equal extent, have made vintage watches very cool.
The reason for this can be found in every area of fashion and
contemporary culture and whether one calls it brand association or good old fashioned ‘star quality’ there is no doubt that seeing TV and movie idols wearing superb vintage watches boosts their appeal amongst a younger audience that is achingly anxious to find their own space in the style lexicon. And it does no harm at all for a younger generation to see these products in their heyday environment. Once upon a time they were very cool… we were very cool (weren’t we?).
No discourse on the matter would be complete without referencing the classic film/watch tie ins, from James Bond and his Omega Seamasters to Le Mans which effectively built the reputation of Monaco. My own personal favourite for a number of reasons is the Apollo 13 film with its timeless classic Speedmasters. However what I am seeing now is something quite different. A desire for a more subtle, understated timepiece from an unrivalled era amongst an audience who were not a twinkle in an eye at the time.
Favourite amongst this new cognoscenti are 1960’s Omegas and Rolexes. I’m certain the appeal for these amongst a younger generation is driven by the recent plethora of mid-century period films and dramas that have helped to boost the zeitgeist chic of these admittedly beautiful watches. I for one am not complaining.
There are a whole host of reasons one should buy a vintage watch, from style, sophistication and a penchant for timeless design to environmental considerations (yes really, but lets leave that for another time) but if being cool is one of them I’m not going to argue even if it would be a first for me personally!