Three Vintage Watches for Big Wrists

Article By: Logan Hannen

WATCH101 | May 28, 2019

It’s no surprise that here at Theo & Harris, we love vintage watches. They act like time capsules in many ways, representing a bygone era that can tap into our tastes for style or sentimentality for old and beloved instruments. However, vintage also typically means smaller, the result of several decades in which small, thin watches indicated luxury and represented the skill of watchmakers. However, for many modern watch enthusiasts, vintage watches are simply too small for comfort.

We’re going to highlight three vintage watches that are larger than many of their contemporaries, but with all of the same charm and funk that we so often look for in a vintage watch. All three of the items on this list are chronographs because, typically, they most consistently offer the largest case sizes in the vintage world.

1: Omega Speedmaster Mark II Ref. 145.014

Source: Fratello Watches

Omega Speedmaster Mark II Ref. 145.014
Year of Original Release: 1969
Diameter: 41.75mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Movement: Omega Caliber 861
Price: $2500-$4k USD

The Omega Speedmaster Mark II is often considered to be one of the weirder models in the Speedmaster family. Its barrel shaped case and lugless profile give it an overwhelming sense of bulk, but in a wearable way, making it a significantly more viable option than many other vintage chronographs. While the proper Speedmaster Professional is technically larger at 42mm in diameter, they’re also generally more expensive, especially the closer you get to the year of the moon landing. The Mark II offers nearly all of the mechanical integrity that the Professional does, but at a more attainable price tag, and with a more interesting impression on the wrist.

2: Breitling Top Time Ref. 824

Source: HODINKEE

Breitling Top Time Ref. 824
Year of Original Release: Circa 1960s
Case Diameter: 38mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Movement: Manually Wound Venus 178 Chronograph movement
Price: ~$5,000

Vintage chronographs in general are always a really great option for those looking for a vintage watch with a larger wrist presence, thanks in large part to the protrusions of the crown and chronograph pushers. What makes the Breitling Top Time reference 824 interesting is that it offers this, while also featuring a 38mm case diameter, making it a bit larger to begin with. It’s also incredibly interesting from a dial perspective, featuring 24 hour time instead of 12 hour time to represent the hours on the dial, and a tri-compax layout with silver subdials, giving the watch a reverse panda dial aesthetic. Because it has an incredibly thin bezel, the watch really is all dial on the wrist, which even further helps to give a larger wrist impression than you might expect out of 38mm.

3: Heuer Bundeswehr 1550 SG

Source: HODINKEE

Heuer Bundeswehr 1550 SG
Year of Original Release: 1955
Case Diameter: 42mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Movement: Valjoux 230 Automatic Flyback Chronograph
Price: ~$5,000

The Heuer Bundeswehr, or Heuer Bund for short, is one of my absolute favorite watches of all time. There’s just something about its totally brushed case and crisply lumed Arabic numerals on the dial that speak to me. What helps a ton as well is the size. At 42mm, the Heuer Bund is definitely large for a vintage watch, and for good reason – it was issued to the German Armed Forces (or Bundeswehr, in German) as a standard piece of equipment, meaning it needed to be incredibly legible during flight and, as a result, larger than your average chronograph. This, plus the pump pushers and large crown, give the Bund a wrist presence much closer to 43 or even 44mm in diameter, so for those with larger wrists, it really doesn’t get much better than this.

All right, geeks, I hope you’ve enjoyed this dive into the world of vintage watches for larger wrists. Be sure to chime in with your own picks and, as always, keep it classy, watchfam.

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