We love complications, bold designs and precious metal cases. But every once in a while there’s something to be said about simplicity — about a watch that serves as a subtly stylish accouterment rather than an overpowering showpiece. It’s why Nomos and Bauhaus-inspired watches of its ilk are so supremely beloved. But long before Nomos started cranking out watches in Glashütte, the vast majority of watches made in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s gave off similarly simplistic emanations. Here are three watches, each touting simple dials and restrained 36mm stainless steel cases, that are representative of the simple three-handers from that era.
1960s Zenith Manual-Wind
What we like: With a slim case (only 8.4mm thick!), and domed dial and glass, this ’60s-era Zenith achieves a classy, simple look many modern watch brands often try (but fail) to pull off correctly. In addition to a complication-free dial and movement, this watch doesn’t even have automatic winding — it’s properly old-school.
From the seller: The 36mm case with original winding crown shimmers. The dial was expertly restored and still has the original exaggerated raised metal numerals and elongated markers.
Omega Refernece 2791
What we like: Like the Zenith, this Omega is so anonymous it doesn’t even have a model name. That’s fine, because any additional branding would distract from that lovely, patinaed dial. It, too, is powered by a simple hand-winding movement, housed in a lithe, athletic-looking case.
From the seller: Case is in very good condition overall with normal signs of moderate use and wear. Dial is in very good condition showing signs of age.
IWC Yacht Club
What we like: Unlike the previous two watches, this IWC does have a model name and an automatic movement, but you’d be hard-pressed to find much else here. That’s okay. The real draw here is the rounded case and radiant sunray dial.
From the seller: Case is in great condition, hairline cracks around the bezel; dial has no blemishes.