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The Best Vintage Reissue Watches of 2021

Today's watchmakers are stuck in the 1960s and '70s. Just embrace it.

best vintage reissued watches
Gear Patrol

There was a time, in the not-too-distant past, when if you wanted a vintage-styled watch, well...you pretty much had to buy an actual vintage watch. Now, that scenario is almost hard to imagine: In 2021, many modern watches go beyond mere vintage "influence" or "inspiration" and are often closer to near-exact remakes than ever.

Within this watchmaking renaissance, it's great to be able to enjoy time-tested design with all the benefits of modern tech and materials — or is it?

With so many recent vintage homages, some watch enthusiasts fret about a lack of creativity in the industry: "What will a watch from the 2020s look like to subsequent generations other than a watch from the 1960s or '70s?" Hopefully the future will offer fresh new visions of watchmaking alongside a healthy appreciation of time-tested designs of the past — but in the meantime, there are just a lot of very cool neo-vintage watches to enjoy.

Given the lack the hassle and uncertainty that comes with buying and maintaining vintage watches, it's hard to complain about these vintage designs becoming more accessible: In many cases, the modern equivalents will be better made than the originals, and the buying experience far more straightforward. Despite any handwringing about originality in the watch industry, we can't help but love and want many of the remakes that are coming out nowadays. Faithful vintage reissues are the dominant watchmaking trend of 2021 — here are some of the best.

Q Timex 1978 Reissue Day-Date
Timex timex.com

Many of the most iconic watches of the last century have returned as modern, high-end watches in recent years — but they're not your only choices for cool retro style and history: Affordable as always, Timex has continued to grow its much loved Q collection of classic watches from the era when quartz was actually celebrated. They offer a refreshing break from the snobbism of expensive mechanical watches, but also an excellent vintage style taken directly from the brand's archives — the dressy new 1978 Q Timex Reissue Day Date being a perfect example.

Diameter: 35mm
Movement: Quartz
Water resistance: 50m

Tissot PRX

Part of the ne0-vintage trend has seen watchmakers looking to the nostalgia of decades other than just the '60s and '70s, as well. Tissot's PRX design was technically born in the late '70s, but it feels very '80s, if you ask me. It has the hallmarks of other quartz watches from the era such as its sloping lugs and integrated bracelet design, making its character stand out among the many other reissues out there. The modern versions come in quartz, just like the originals, but for a few hundred bucks more, you can also get an automatic movement and even a cool waffle-textured dial.

Diameter: 40mm
Movement: ETA C07.111 automatic
Water resistance: 100m

Nivada Antarctic Spider

Nivada is among a number of entire brands that have been resurrected to again offer watches produced in its namesake's heyday (mostly the '60s and '70s, of course). The modern company is entirely dedicated to such homages, and among them is the relatively dressy Antarctic collection. The Spider model is a recent addition that features radial lines and vertical indices that together make the reason for its nickname readily apparent.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: Soprod P024 automatic
Water resistance: 100m

Bulova Mil Ships

Among its many contemporary collections, Bulova has selectively found the odd vintage watch to recreate. With all its history, the brand has several good options, too, and affordable examples like its Lunar Pilot ("Moonwatch") and Oceanographer ("Devil Diver") have proven very successful. For 2021, the company recreated a dive watch it never before serially produced, but which only existed as a prototype. Fans of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms will find a lot that's familiar here, as well as appreciate a much more affordable alternative.

Diameter: 41mm
Movement: Miyota 82S0 automatic
Water resistance: 200m

Timor Heritage Field

Like a couple other brands mentioned here, Timor as a modern company exists largely to recreate its most famous watches of the past. You can hardly blame them, as they were among 12 companies that produced one of the most legendary military watches of all time, the "W.W.W." for the British military in WWII. They're not the only brand doing an homage to this watch, but they seem to have really done it up and created a refined modern product based on a decidedly pragmatic field watch.

Diameter: 36.5mm
Movement: Sellita SW260 automatic or SW216 hand-wound
Water resistance: 40m

Accutron Legacy

If you dig the funky side of midcentury watch design, Accutron has a whole collection that's sure to get your attention. The "TV" watch is just one example (and not the quirkiest), but it represents a period of several decades in which designers looked to a "space age," and designs got experimental and sometimes a little far-out. It's a brave move for a brand to rerelease these obscurities, as they're not bound to enjoy the same popularity as the sport watches most other brands focus on — but it shows that there's real passion behind the products.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: Undisclosed Swiss automatic
Water resistance: 30m

Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H

One of Hamilton's strongest collections is its range of handsome, '60's-inspired watches that feel like they're straight out of Mad Men. This year, the brand announced new chronographs featuring hand-wound movements and approachable 40mm cases, just like the Chronograph A and B watches from 1968 that they're based on. Even more interesting, the movement inside was developed specially for these watches and exclusively for Hamilton by the brand's Swatch Group sister company ETA.

Diameter: 40mm
Movement: ETA H-51 hand-wound
Water resistance: 100m

Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Recreation SJE085

The Seiko Alpinist that's best known (and which the brand brought back in 2020) is actually not the original Alpinist, but a version from the 1990s. The original Alpinist — Seiko's first sport watch — was born in 1959, and it's this version which Seiko reissued this year. Like almost every watch of its era, it looks somewhat dressy from a modern perspective, but was famously intended for Japanese "mountain men." In its modern limited-edition incarnation, however, it's no cheap beater and lives among the luxury-priced watches of the brand's Prospex collection.

Diameter: 36.6mm
Movement: Seiko 6L35 automatic
Water resistance: 200m

Airain Type 20 Re-Edition

Airain is one of the brands known for its Type 20 chronograph watches made for French military pilots starting in the 1950s. Much like Nivada above, the company has been resurrected today to make these vintage watches again, and the combination of design, size (about 1.5mm larger than the original at 38mm) and history make for one hell of a great looking modern watch. Here and there you can find remakes of iconic chronographs from bigger brands, but Airain also offers a pretty strong value proposition — and it even includes the now-exotic flyback function, which allows you to restart the chronograph at zero without having to first stop and reset it.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: La Joux-Perret AM1 automatic
Water resistance: 50m

Zenith Chronomaster Original

Zenith's modern Chronomaster collection is where the legacy of its famous El Primero — the movements and the watches of the same name — live. For a couple years now, the brand has been offering historically faithful versions of its first El Primero watches from 1969 that are accurate down to the smalest details, including sizing. While the brand has also given these designs modern interpretations (to excellent effect), there are examples like the Chronomaster Original, which recreates watches the famous reference A386. This is essentially the closest you can get to the El Primero's iconic look without actually buying vintage.

Diameter: 38mm
Movement: Zenith Caliber 3600 automatic
Water resistance: 50m

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