Over the past half century, sports watches have become the every day timepiece for many men and women around the world. Originally design for extreme conditions, they have made their way out of the deep seas, high skies and fast cars and popularized by such familiar faces as Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. We have chosen five ultimate classics that have become the pillars of vintage sports watches. Many other brands have paid "homage" to these models, but there is nothing like the original. Shop our Sport Watches.
The Rolex Submariner is one of the most iconic watches in history. From the silver screen to the deep seas, the Submariner has earned it’s place as one of the most popular watches produced by one of the world’s most well known watch brands.
Officially released in 1954 at the Basel Spring Watch Fair, the Submariner was the world’s first wristwatch designed for the deep waters of scuba diving. The early Submariner was built with a numbered bezel, luminescent hands that glowed in low light conditions, and a waterproof case that, in some models, could withstand conditions as deep as 200 meters.
Over time the watch changed slightly. The original models had straight minute and hour hands that came to a point called “pencil” hands. By 1956, Rolex added a small circle at the end of the hour hand with a symbol similar that of German carmaker Mercededs-Benz, earning these hands the name “Mercedes hands.” The early model second hands on the Submariner also featured a small circle on the very end of the hand, these were called Lollipop hands. Over time, the small circle was moved slightly up the hand close to the center of the watch. One of the most noticeable changes to the Submariner was the addition of crown guards in the late 1950s. Overtime slight changes and variations have taken place as Rolex releases new versions of the Submariner model. A true classic, the Rolex Submariner is certainly one of the most well known, classic sport watches available. Shop our Submariners
The Heuer Monaco is one of the most recognizable vintage watches from the past century for a number of reasons. First is it’s appearance; the unique square shape and it’s beautiful blue and sometimes grey dial with complimenting red and white hands and markers instantly set it apart from other watches in the market. It’s strong yet elegant brushed steel case make it both durable and beautifully designed. The sometimes more notable reason the watch is so recognizable is it’s association with movie star Steve McQueen who wore the watch in the 1971 racing film Le Mans, earning the watch the nickname “McQueen." For a deeper history into the Heuer model visit the Model Profile: Heuer Monaco. Or Shop Our vintage Heuer.
The Rolex GMT-Master was developed in the 1950’s in cooperation with the Pan-American Airlines to assist pilots with telling time in multiple time zones. As flight technology increased, so did flight times and distances, meaning the pilots would be crossing through a number of time zones in one flight. To solve this, Rolex created the GMT-Master with a hand that could be set to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the standard time used by pilots, while the other hour hand could be set to local time. The 24 hour turn-o-graph bezel meant that the pilot could turn the bezel as required to tell another time. The iconic red and blue bezel, often referred to as a “Pepsi bezel,” was made to tell day hours from night hours.
Rolex GMT-Masters can be found all across pop culture on the wrists of Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I., Pussy Galore in James Bond’s “Goldfinger”, Marlon Brando, Pablo Picasso, Che Guevara, and Fidel Castro. The GMT is an essential part of any vintage Rolex afficiado’s sport watch collection. It’s classic bezel and style make it a recognizable classic. Shop our GMT-Masters.
One of Omega’s most recognizable and well-known models, the Speedmaster became well known as the first watch used in outer space when it was worn during the first American spacewalk as part of NASA’s Gemini 4 mission and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 mission. Prior to the space missions, NASA put a number of chronographs from various brands through a gauntlet of tests to find out which timepiece was best suited for space conditions; the Speedmaster was the only watch to pass the test.
The Speedmaster, however, was not initially created for space travel but rather as a sports and racing chronograph for the Olympics where Omega was the official timekeeper. It was not until a few years later that the watch became well known for it’s space travels.
The original Speedmaster design featured the hallmarks that continued to be used over the years, including the triple-register chronograph (the three sub dials), high contrast index marks, and the domed Plexiglas crystal. Most notably different in the original models is the hour hand that is the shape of an arrow, a steel bezel, and the smaller case at 39mm. Over the years the watch has gotten larger, the hands became straight baton hands, and the iconic black aluminum tachymeter bezel was added. The Speedmaster continues to be one of the most iconic and popular chronographs on the market. Shop our Speedmasters
Over the past 50 years the Rolex Daytona has solidified it’s place in history as one of the most sought after and popular chronographs in existence. The iconic style of the Daytona has been imitated by various brands for decades, but none compare to the original.
Rolex released the Daytona in 1963, inspired by auto racing and named for the world famous speedway in Daytona, Florida, home to the Daytona 500. The recognizable design of this chronograph features three sub-dials, a screw-down crown at 3 o’clock and two push pins above and below the crown at 2 and 4 o’clock.
The Daytona gained notoriety after actor Paul Newman began wearing a 1972 Daytona his wife gave him after he took up auto racing. Collectors and enthusiasts began referring to Daytona’s with a particular style dial Paul Newman Daytona’s.
Over the years these chronographs have become increasingly popular, sought after and pricier, but there is no substitution them. The Rolex Daytona is an exceptional sport watch for all occasions. Shop our Daytonas