A vintage year for vintage watches: two veterans that stand out

With the arrival of the smart or connected watch we may not know for certain the future of wrist wear, but one advantage traditional brands have is that they do know the past.

Tissot vintage watches.
The Tissot heritage range.

Most of the well-known names in horology have vast and fabulous archives on which to draw and 2016 is shaping up as a vintage year in that regard, with a number of so-called heritage releases that hit the spot.

You can choose from heritage dive models from the likes of Oris, to the popular Heritage Black Bay series offered by Tudor, watches inspired by models from the 1960s.

Longines vintage watch.
Longines.

Two other newcomers this year look back even further, and to great effect. If they were cars they would be strictly classified as veteran (pre-1918) and post-vintage (pre-1949.) For us, though, they’re so far removed from the usual 1960s and 1970s-inspired pieces we see that this is nit-picking.

Terrific Tissot

The Tissot Heritage 1936 here is almost vintage (cut-off date 1930) and a reinterpretation of a piece from Tissot’s 1936 catalogue. It’s a watch that dates to the beginnings of the wristwatch revolution, when men first began wearing watches rather than carrying them in their pockets.

The Tissot Heritage 1936.
The Tissot Heritage 1936.

The watchmakers of the day adapted by taking pocket watches and welding wire arches onto the cases in order to afix a strap, and such watches were necessarily large, as is the new Heritage 1936 which spans 45mm.

TIssot Heritage - the original
TIssot Heritage – the original.

The strap on the Tissot is likewise reminiscent of those of early wristwatches, a thread-through-the-lugs number with cream stitching on brown leather, while in another authentic touch the back of the case can be opened to view the hand-wound Unitas mechanical movement.

Tissot Heritage 1936 back
Tissot Heritage 1936 back.

It should arrive mid-year priced under $2000.

 Lovely Longines

Can we get away with simply calling a watch lovely?  Well, why not, given it sums up this newcomer for which Longines stepped even further back in time, to 1918.

The new Longines Heritage 1918.
The new Longines Heritage 1918.

The Longines Heritage 1918 faithfully recreates a handsome watch from that year, the new model following form down to blued steel hands and large honey-coloured varnished numerals on a white-lacquered polished dial.

Original Longines 1918 model
The original Longines 1918 model.

Interestingly there are two versions and two case sizes. You can choose from a 38.5mm or 41mm steel case, with the option of diamonds on the bezel of the 38.5mm version.

The Longines Heritage 1918 with diamonds
The Longines Heritage 1918 with diamonds.

The movement is self-winding, and the watches are mounted on honey-coloured leather alligator straps. And the price: from around $2350.

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