Vintage chronographs from brands like Omega, Rolex and Heuer are some of the most sought-after timepieces on the vintage market. But while some collectors are willing to spend thousands at auction, many of us are simply looking for a classic iteration of a beloved complication at a decent price. Thankfully, there are plenty of forgotten brands that produced chronographs during the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, and their watches can be picked up today at a fraction of chronographs from those aforementioned big names. Here are three you can get right now for under $2,000.
What we like: This early ’70s chronograph rocks a perfectly-sized 38mm case, a hand-wound Valjoux chronograph movement and a radiant sunray dial. An interesting touch here are the pink numbers surrounding the chapter ring. While they do stand out, they’re more quirky than outlandish, giving this some serious appeal to collectors with eclectic tastes.
From the seller: Steel case is in great condition with light, even wear from age and use, and has crisp finishes. The blue sunburst dial is in excellent condition as is the handset. Screw-down case back shows light tool marks. Unsigned crown.
Wittnauer Ref. 3256
What we like: This Wittnauer is emblematic of the simple designs of early chronograph watches. Its 36mm case is simple and reserved, and the dial is complete with elegant red and blue telemeters and tachymeters. Easily the most attractive part of this watch is its patina, which has turned the once white dial into a unique salmon-like color.
From the seller: Original condition overall with minor wear consistent with age and light use. The original dial has transformed to an incredible salmon color with all luminous plots in tact. Original “alpha” hands with all luminous material matching and in tact; original blued-steel register hands. The solid stainless steel case is razor sharp and appears to be unpolished.
Le Jour Two-Register Chronograph
What we like: This Le Jour has also aged gracefully. The faded lume and red seconds hand provide an excellent contrast to the mint sunray dial, while the twisted lugs give the otherwise simple case shape a tasteful bit of flair. Old Le Jours are known as “Poor Man’s Heuers” for their many Heuer components. Even as the highest-price option on this list, however, it remains a relative bargain.
From the seller: Case is in very good condition overall with minimal signs of wear. Dial is in very good condition with patina to the luminescent elements. Unsigned crown.