A new breed of old style watches for men has come to market. They are styled after vintage military watches and offer large faces, earthy dial colors, and rugged canvas or leather straps. These vintage military-style watches offer practicality, ease of use, and rugged style. While they may have been styled after military watches, their muted colors fit well into the modern business casual office.
The advance into the past has been spearheaded by Bell & Ross. Their luxury watch catalog features watches inspired by World War I and World War II aviation. The looks of these watches are simple. A large circular face, a brown or tan dial, large readable numerals in a vintage font, a distressed leather strap, and a high quality Swiss-made automatic movement. The Vintage Wristwatch 1 model (WW1-92) model emphasizes the minutes with large hash marks and numerals denoting five minute intervals around the perimeter of the dial. Smaller numerals that denote the hours are set within an inner circle on the watch face. Like all vintage military-style watches, this leading Bell & Ross has an understated simplicity that can be very appealing.
At a much more affordable level, the Stuhrling Original “Tuskegee Flier” Automatic Watch provides similar simplicity with a black face, large readable numerals to denote the hours, and a vintage looking track of minute marks around the dial. It’s available from sources like Overstock.com and Amazon for between $80 and $120. Stuhrling also offers a variety of variations on the vintage military theme with different face colors and numeral colors to help you achieve the vintage military look you desire.
As a favorite for everyday wear, Timex has not ignored the vintage military watch trend. They have several vintage military-inspired watches at Timex.com. For about $100, the Timex Expedition Military Classic brings a splash of color to the show with a dial. It features a three level track of numerals around the dial. The outer band has the minutes, the middle band features a red track with the 24-hour time from 13 to 24, and an inner band has the tradition 12-hour dial. A black bezel and case are secured to the wrist with a sturdy nylon strap. It’s a premium Timex, but it has a distinct style that will have you read to climb aboard a B-17 bomber for a mission back in time.
If you want a much more colorful variation on the vintage military aviation watch theme, check out a French watchmaker called Bernard Richards Manufacture (B.R.M.), they have a “Bomber” series of watches that incorporates bomber nose art and identification logos into the watch face and crown for a distinctive and colorful look. While the BRM watches are much busier looking than most of the vintage military watch designs, they have a distinctive look that really stands out.
Finally, as most watchmakers have entrants into the vintage military watch market, you can find some really good deals. For example, an Invicta Vintage 1460 collection quartz watch is down to only $39.00 on Amazon. It incorporates all of the styling cues of a vintage military watch in a very affordable and practical package.
All of these aviation-inspired watches are very cool. They are grounded in practicality, but pay homage to heroes and look to the sky for adventure.
Bell & Ross Website (www.bellross.com)
Timex Website (www.timex.com)
Other articles by this contributor:
Affordable Men’s Watches with Subdials
A Guide to Ultra Thin Wristwatches for Men
A Review of the Aviation Museum in Warner-Robins, Georgia