Vintage Watches

Urban Beardsman
Vintage Watches

When I was a kid, I remember that a friend of mine wore a watch that used to belong to his grandfather.  It was to be passed on to all of the men in the family; first to his father, then to him and eventually on to his son. That watch was sacred; there was now something physical to represent all of the things that these men carried on and shared over time.

My clothing line, Blade + Blue, was started to honor these kinds of traditions; traditions that connect us and make us men.  I learned so much of these life-lessons from my dad.  When I was a little kid, he taught me how to fix my bicycle’s flat tire and how to oil my baseball mitt.  As I got older, he showed me how to knot a tie and how to parallel park.  Time may pass, but these gifts we pass to each other remain the same.

I see these same things when looking into the face of an old watch; the strength to endure through the years, the loyalty in performing their duty and the beauty of seeing that some things never go out of style.

This past summer I was a man on a mission, hunting high and low for the coolest vintage finds for Blade + Blue.  Interestingly, the most rewarding part came after the hunting was done.  Each piece was taken to my local watchmaker, carefully inspected and repaired back to good working order.  In some ways, it was like nursing them back to health.  I wanted to make sure these watches were ready to take on their new lives.

I’ll walk you through my most recent finds, give you the scoop on some of my favorite brands, and share some things I learned along the way.


HENRI SANDOZ

Shirt, Bowtie, Suspenders : Made in USA by Blade + Blue
Watch : Vintage Find
All available at BladeandBlue.com

Often referred to as the Swiss Timex, these watches are reliable, stylish and affordable.  You want to look for the Henri Sandoz or Henri Sandoz & Fils marking – this connotes a Swiss origin and will date the watch back to before the 1970’s.  Available for purchase at Blade + Blue $135

LESSON LEARNED

Your watch does not have to be expensive to be cool.


WITTNAUER

Watch available at BladeandBlue.com

With a long history of watchmaking in the aviation and exploration fields, Wittnauers are known for their handsome, military-style faces and impeccably precise time keeping.  The Wittnauer watch pictured here was purchased from its original owner at a garage sale in a small town in northern California. Blade + Blue $140

LESSON LEARNED

Get out of the big cities. You will score a great deal and your piece will have a rich history.


TIMEX

Shirt, Tie, Belt : Made in USA by Blade + Blue
Watch: Vintage Find
All available at BladeandBlue.com

An American institution, making sturdy and handsome watches since 1854.  In the last decade, the brand has experienced a renaissance by reinterpreting styles from their archives. But nothing beats breathing new life into an old piece.  You should always bring a vintage find into a watchmaker for an expert check-up and remember to factor in that cost when you’re hunting for bargains. Blade + Blue $150

LESSON LEARNED

Your watchmaker can be as important as your barber – find a good one and stay loyal.


FAVRE-LEUBA

Shirt, Tie, Belt : Made in USA by Blade + Blue
Watch & Tie Clip: Vintage Finds
All available at BladeandBlue.com

One of Switzerland’s very first watchmakers, the Favre-Leuba label is known for its smart, colorful, and masculine designs.  While the brand has been defunct for years, it is being readied for a re-launch in 2015.  Hopefully, this will spark new interest in this underappreciated brand. Blade + Blue $150

LESSON LEARNED

Don’t get hung up on labels. Find the watch that best represents your own personal style.

About the Author

Peter Papas formed San Francisco based Blade + Blue after nearly 20 years in the merchandising and product development world. He’s a hardcore record collector, and considers himself incompetent when it comes to technology. Twitter: @bladeandblue

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