As we find ourselves well into the new year, we are seeing 2019 take on its own defining watch trends and leave those of yesteryear behind. More reserved case sizes are replacing the thicker, wider counterparts of the past.
Manufacturers are incorporating more unique materials into their watches to set them apart. While blue is an unwavering classic option, green and salmon dials are rapidly growing in popularity. Time-honored vintage designs and models with compelling backstories are being reissued. With these leanings in mind, here are our picks for the best pre-owned watches for the year as of the first quarter!
It should come as no surprise that a stainless-steel sports Rolex finds itself at the top of this list. The aptly nicknamed “Hulk” Submariner wears its team’s colors in the green sunburst dial and matching ceramic bezel. Aside from the bold colors, the watch maintains the familiar Submariner design and comes fitted with the highly-regarded Oyster bracelet with solid 904L steel links and revered glidelock clasp. The matrimony of the 40mm case and extraordinarily comfortable bracelet make this a very wearable sports watch, and the vibrant green gives the wearer something special on their wrist — as if a Rolex was not special enough.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A-001
The Aquanaut is a sportier take from a company so well-known for timeless dress watches. This Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A boasts a dual time complication, which is similar to a GMT in that it allows the watch to track more than one time zone using an additional hour hand. Seamlessly integrated into the left of the case are two buttons that advance the second hour hand forward or backward. This feature makes it so easy to change the secondary time as you travel between time zones. The dual time complication coupled with the wearable 41mm case, durable rubber strap, and more-than-sufficient 120m water resistance really does make this watch an ideal traveling companion and certainly earns its title as the “Travel Time.”
F.P. Journe Octa Lune
F.P. Journe continues to push the boundaries of traditional Swiss watchmaking with this unique piece. Aside from the warm, salmon dial, the most eye-catching feature of this F.P. Journe Octa watch is the uncommon display, with separate sub-dials for the time and small-seconds, balanced by the power reserve hand and moon phase. The 40mm 18k rose gold case houses an 18K gold movement and comes dressed on an alligator strap complete with matching tang buckle. As the luxury watch industry becomes more controlled by a select few conglomerates, it is refreshing to find F.P. Journe is still making waves as an independent watchmaker in the truest sense of the word. Proudly printed on the dial is “Invenit et Facit”, which translates to “he invented and made it” and speaks to the fact that the F.P. Journe watches are completely designed and manufactured in-house.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Duoface Q38484AF
This alluring watch is an exotic play on Jaeger-LeCoultre’s most ionic and well-known model line. The hallmark of the Reverso is of course its ability to reverse from one dial side to another. The primary dial is the classic white with blued hands and black Arabic numerals, and the flip side is where this piece comes to life. The secondary dial is a breathtaking, rich green marble that is not done justice in pictures. Marble is a particularly rare material to find in the watch industry, so a special props to JLC are in order for not only continuing to pioneer, but doing so at such a high level of design.
Omega Speedmaster “Grey Side of the Moon” 3126.96.36.199.99.001
When it comes to historic watch icons, the Omega Speedmaster is always part of the discussion. It was Omega’s steady technological innovations that landed the first watch on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, and Omega has not been afraid to continue their innovations 50 years later. This Speedmaster “Grey Side” is technologically sound from the inside out. The co-axial 9300 movement has its own list of impressive specifications including an anti-magnetic and shock-resistant silicon balance spring, an automatic column-wheel chronograph, and a gorgeous arabesque finish. The star of the show here is the gray, full ceramic case. Omega uses a five-step process to take zirconium-based powder and turn it into a scratch-resistant case that maintains the high level of polishing and twisted lugs that are synonymous with Omega products.
Tag Heuer x The Rake x Revolution Carrera Chronograph “Blue Dreamer” CAR221C.FC6350
This watch is vintage-styled watch with modern amenities. The logo at twelve o’clock drops the “TAG” from the current “TAG Heuer” name, which is an acknowledgement to the revered pre-TAG chronographs of the 1900s. This “Heuer” motif is continued throughout the rest of the watch with the “Heuer”-signed crown, clasp, and rotor. The domed crystal is another spectacular throwback to vintage sensibilities, but the sapphire construction maintains the durability we expect today. The same vintage yet modern characteristics can be found in the rest of the watch with its 100m water resistance and robust movement. The design of the deep blue dial and tri-color sub dial were inspired by the French Riviera. This Carrera is part of a limited 100-piece run done in partnership with Revolution Magazine and their sister publication, “The Rake.” This TAG Heuer Rake edition is a great option to get the modern ruggedness of TAG with the vintage beauty of a Heuer chronograph, and this limited edition is a sure-fire way to show off something exclusive on your wrist.
Oris Big Crown 1917 Limited Edition 732 7736 4081LS
Similar to the previous pick, this is another modern take on a vintage design. The Big Crown 1917 is in a limited run of (get this) 1917 pieces, and the release is a salute to Oris’ first pilot’s watch. The piece is simply charming, oozing with nods to the past and styled much like the original Big Crown design from 1917. The “Oris” logo at twelve o’clock is written in the same font as the original, the large onion-styled crown is a standard addition to any true pilot’s watch, and the case back is signed with the old school “Oris Watch Company” OWC logo. Even the movement has been modified to function as the original watch did, utilizing a secondary crown at two o’clock to set the time. The 40mm case and legible dial make this a great everyday piece, and the historical styling makes the watch such a conversation starter.
Grand Seiko Automatic Limited Edition SBGR311
Up next is a brand that consistently punches well above its weight. As with any Grand Seiko, it only makes sense to talk first about the dial, and there is a great deal to unpack. The golden-brown comes to life in certain lights, and upon closer inspection, a mosaic pattern of “G’s” and “S’s” in the brand typeface becomes evident throughout the dial, in addition to a second s-shaped character, a reference to another older version of their logo. Sitting atop the dial of the SBGR311 are hand-finished and set, faceted hour markers and hands worthy of a loupe. The Zaratsu polishing on the dial furniture and 42mm case make this a worthy rival to its higher-end Swiss competitors. There is also a generous 100m water resistance, which makes this watch a great option as a dressier everyday piece.
Zenith El Primero Lightweight Limited Edition 10.2260.400/69.R573
With a title like this, the watch better be lightweight. And coming in at a mere 40g, it is. Zenith takes every step possible here to make this a technologically advanced timepiece. The case is composed of two lightweight materials, carbon and aluminum, and parts of the lugs are milled out to remove more mass. In this particular piece, the legendary El Primero chronograph movement is made of titanium in order to further cut down on superfluous weight. The dial is partially skeletonized which often hinders dial legibility, but Zenith does a great job here of not making such a compromise. The three sub dials add contrast to the otherwise colorless dial. With the bright lume and 100m water resistance, this El Primero Lightweight edition makes a great option as an all-around sports watch.
Cartier Drive De Cartier WGNM0003
Cartier is well-known for their higher-end jewelry, but their illustrious history in watchmaking is often overlooked. The Drive is one of many dressier options that Cartier offers, and this particular piece is a 40mm rose gold Cartier Drive. While its thinness and Roman numeral hour markers lend the design to a more formal setting, the date at 3 o’clock is a practical complication to have in an everyday driver (no pun intended) as well. Cartier’s reputation for quality leather products is upheld by the included alligator strap, and the cabochon crown and blued hands demonstrate the attention to detail we’ve come to expect from Cartier.
Did we leave off one of your favorites for this year? Let us know!
Author: Joe Cuce