Does it sometimes feel like vintage watches have left the roots of their appeal behind with escalating prices? The internet made once humble, historical watches more widely available and easily searchable, but it also educated a new generation of voracious watch lovers — as well as created buzz around certain brands, models, and genres, and collecting in general. Well, it takes some work, but affordable vintage watches worth buying can still be found. Here are three such mechanical beauties, all selling for under $400.
What We Like: As a sub-brand of Bulova, Caravelle made handsome and interesting watches in the 1960s and ’70s like this one from around 1975 that features some classic, conservative design elements alongside idiosyncratic, framed numbers. They are perfectly balanced out by the date window’s frame at 3 o’clock. At 35mm wide, this is a smallish watch but it should be wearable on modern wrists, and it contains a manually wound Bulova movement. The price makes it all the prettier.
From the Seller: Original condition overall with only light signs of wear consistent with storage and handling.
What We Like: LIP is interesting, first, for being among a handful of significant French watch brands that made quality movements and watches in relative volume before falling victim to the Quartz Crisis. Vintage LIP watches range in style and price, but this one is representative of LIP’s style — and the brand’s modern incarnation produces a similar, retro-inspired model again today. “Made in France,” as the dial proudly advertises, this particular example has an attractive 34mm-wide cushion-shaped case and houses a LIP 7525 automatic movement.
From the Seller: Case repolished by us, with small visible traces. New plexiglass crystal and serviced movement.
What We Like: Things were in some ways simpler in past decades, but complicated in other ways. A case in point is the watch industry and how brands collaborated, shared, and banded together in ways that are uncommon now. Dugena was the name of a “cooperative” (genossenschaft) that included Alpina, Fortis, and BWC watches, and while each company made self-branded watches as well, there were also ones like this Dugena diver. With a Swiss ETA 2782 automatic movement inside and a perfectly modern 38mm diameter, this is an inexpensive way to get a great-looking vintage dive watch on your wrist.
From the Seller: Very good condition for its age — works and feels great on the wrist. Professionally serviced: cleaned and oiled, and ticking good.