In its day, Rotary Watches Ltd. and its winged wheel logo were widely recognized. Founded in the Swiss watchmaking center of La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1895 by Moise Dreyfuss, the brand later had a strong connection with the UK market and eventually was headquartered there. It was awarded a contract in 1940 from the British government to be among the suppliers of field watches for the army, but not a lot of these are around today.
Later, it was a prolific producer of chronograph and dive watches, and these now largely characterize the brand’s presence on the vintage watch market. One of Rotary’s most important models was the Aquaplunge dive watch, and while the brand’s historical catalog is varied, we found some cool examples in a diver and a diver-chronograph below.
Rotary remained family-controlled under the Dreyfuss Group (which includes watch maker Dreyfuss & Co.) until its sale to Chinese conglomerate Citychamp (owners of other Swiss watch companies like Corum and Eterna) in 2014. Rotary today produces a range of reasonably affordable quartz and mechanical watches, some of which are meant to recall its past.
Rotary Aquaplunge Diver
What We Like: From the 1960s, this only slightly weathered diver is styled and aged in just the way that modern watch brands want to emulate with their endless “vintage-inspired” releases — but it’s hard to beat the originals that had to build their own character. With a diameter of 36.5mm, it will wear more like a dress watch, but one that has an undeniably cool, sporty, retro vibe.
From the Seller: Stainless steel case showing wearing marks and scratches. Automatic movement in good working condition and keeping great time, movement has recently been serviced. Asking £1,325.
What We Like: This is a colorful and well-preserved example from way back in 1933. It’s made even more colorful by the yellowing lume which contrasts nicely with its blued hands. At only 30.5mm wide and 9mm thick, it’s considered small by modern standards, but will wear nicely for those that can pull it off. Inside is a manually- wound movement signed with the Rotary winged wheel, echoing the logo on the dial.
From the Seller: In great condition showing only very minor handling wear. This particular model has a solid gold escape wheel and fork, a rarely seen combination.
Rotary Aquaplunge Diver Chronograph
What We Like: Another iteration of the Aquaplunge (gotta love that name) diver from the 1960s, this one is fitted with a Landeron 154 manually wound chronograph movement. With a black dial and white subdials, this is what collectors and watch nerds call a “reverse panda” dial (regular “panda” dials being black on white), and its steel bezel adds to its retro look. Measuring 37mm wide, it should wear well on modern wrists.
From the Seller: The case is in great condition overall, showing normal signs of wear from age and use.