At some point in your watch collecting life, you’ll very likely feel the siren call of a vintage watch. Perhaps it’s something you’re looking for to have a “birth year” watch, or you want something that happens to have been made locally to where you live. Aside from these (and many other) good reasons, there’s still a larger question – why even bother with these earlier watches? Why not just go for something that’s modern and presumably more reliable and accurate?
There’s a simple answer to that question, it turns out. Just as today we view Swiss and Japanese watches as being the apex of what can be had on the market today, American watches filled that exact same niche up until about the mid-twentieth century. Of course, that industry has largely vanished today, and even the original names from those days, if they’re still around, have moved on to other shores.
As with anything vintage, you’ll likely have to adjust your expectations. Styles and tastes 50 plus years ago were quite different than they are today, which means things like smaller cases and straps. However, there’s definitely something to be said about the styling of an awesome art deco piece, or a simple watch that carries a patina that only age can impart.
In this article over at DreamChrono, James Lamdin (twitter) takes you through a deeper answer to the question of why vintage watches still matter, and why you might be considering picking one up for yourself. It’s an interesting read, and also gives you a quick overview of some of the styles that you might run across, courtesy of the pictures in the article. While I’ve yet to add anything of this era to my own collection (perhaps an Elgin one of these days), I’m sure several of you have succumbed – be sure to let us know in the comments what you’ve found!