What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to have a look at three vintage reissues that pay spectacular respect to their original models of reference.
Before we get into the list, it’s important that we establish what exactly a vintage reissue is. In essence, a vintage reissue is a piece that is designed almost identically to a model that was released by that brand previously. This trend in watchmaking has always been there on some level, but it only became a real movement (pun intended) in the last few years, since the market has really begun to shift its focus towards vintage. Today, I want to take a look at three pieces that truly capture the look and energy of the watch by which they’re inspired.
Original Bulova Accutron Astronaut (Left), Modern Bulova Accutron II “Moonview” (Right)
Sources: HODINKEE (Left), Macy’s (Right)
The original Bulova Accutron debuted in 1960, and was one of the very first electronic watches to achieve mainstream success. The result of this widespread praise was a contract with the CIA, who needed a timepiece that could withstand the intense pressure and speed of flight in their then-new A-12 jets. After some testing, they settled on the Accutron Astronaut as their model of choice, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Some decades later, the Bulova Accutron II “Moonview” entered into modern Bulova’s lineup. Though it’s exact date of introduction is unclear, what is clear is the desire to not only replicate certain identifiable characteristics of the original Astronaut, but also give the piece a character all its own. Gone is the GMT function of the original, removing the hand from the dial as well as changing the scale of the bezel from 24 hour to 12 hour.
The other interesting point of note is the moving of the crown. The crown on the original Accutron was actually a small lever concealed in the caseback, rather than a knob at the three o’clock position. On the modern version, the crown is in this more traditional locale, though the bezel’s diameter helps to cover it and maintain some of that original symmetry. Overall, this reissue isn’t a 1 to 1 reproduction, but it is a faithful reinterpretation of one of the most underrated vintage watches on the market.
IWC 1940 Type A Dial Pilots Watch (Left), the IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage 55 (Right)
Sources: Revolution (Left) and HODINKEE (Right)
The original B Uhr pilot watches worn during the Second World War have become a personal favorite of mine, as have the modern versions whose inspiration is abundantly clear. That being said, those original models were all about 55mm in diameter, and it is very rare that modern, mainstream pilot watches venture into that territory. Laco, another manufacturer of the original behemoths, have introduced their own 55mm model in tribute as well, but it’s the IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage 55 that takes the cake for most interesting modern interpretation of this massive concept.
The Heritage 55 is a 55mm wide case housing the modern IWC caliber 98300, a massive hand-wound movement that pays respect to the pocket watch movements found in the original B Uhr pieces. A movement of this architecture is by no means a common sight in modern horology, but it’s a fitting one all the same. Where the piece gets really interesting, though, is in IWC’s decision to make the case of the watch entirely titanium in an effort to enhance the wearability of what would otherwise be a ridiculously large wrist presence.
It’s biggest difference from the original, aside from the switch from steel to titanium, is the fact that on the vintage watch, the seconds were found at the center of the dial, whereas on the Heritage 55, because of the caliber 98300, the seconds have been moved to a subdial at the 6 o’clock position. Not to mention the branding, which has pride of place just under the 12 o’clock triangle on the Heritage 55 and was entirely absent from the original. Despite that, it remains a fitting tribute to one of the most important tool watches in history.
Omega Speedmaster First Omega In Space (Left), Wally Schirra’s CK2998-4 (Right)
Sources: Omega (Left), HODINKEE (Right)
The Speedmaster line is one that has seen a seemingly infinite number of variations over the years. There are dressier Moon Phase offerings, sportier racing models, and just about everything in between. However, it is undoubtedly the Moonwatch that is the brand’s icon. This model, the First Omega in Space, is inspired by a piece worn by astronaut Walter Schirra on a space mission in 1962, a full three years before the Speedmaster officially became the timepiece flight qualified by NASA for all manned space missions. Because of this, much of what we associate as the typical Moonwatch DNA is present, but some of it isn’t.
Principle among this is the lack of “crownguards” which, in actuality, are just portions of the case flared out to serve the function of crownguards rather than a separate design component like on a Rolex Submariner, where they jutt straight out of the case side. The lugs are also a bit straighter, and the hands are more elongated “alpha” style hands than the straight stick hands seen on the Moonwatch proper. The First Omega in Space carries along all of these characteristics, as well as the CK2998’s applied, rather than printed Omega logo. At just under 40mm, the First Omega in Space is also one of the more scaled down members of the Speedmaster family, but one that is well-proportioned for a wide array of wrists, and given how closely it adheres to the design of the original, it’s easy to see why the piece has become a quick favorite among Speedy collectors.
Alright geeks, those are my picks for three stunning, spot-on vintage reissues. Got any picks of your own that I didn’t touch on? Be sure to let us know via email and, as always, keep it classy, watchfam!
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