Early chronographs were purpose-built tool watches, much like the first dive watches, field watches, GMTs and so on. While many people still use tool watches for their intended purposes today — timing loads of laundry or even pulling espresso shots — vintage models are respected for their form factor as much as their ability to withstand decades of service and use. And the coolest of all cool old chronographs are what watch enthusiasts and collectors refer to as “panda dials,” which typically feature two (sometimes three) contrasting sub-dials or registers on the face. These are some of the coolest we’ve seen in a while, and they’re all for sale.
Seiko 6138 “Bullhead”
What we like: Few roundups of great vintage watches are complete without a Seiko in the mix. They’re cool, they’re sturdy, and more often than not, they’re selling for way, way less than their Swiss and German counterparts. This 6138 chronograph from 1974 is notable not just for its good looks, but also because it was known at the time of its release to be on-par with Omega’s own bullhead chronograph. Even with its rich history of watchmaking, it was a big deal for Seiko to challenge the Swiss status quo in the ’60s and ’70s, and this was one of the watches that brought the Japanese maker’s best offerings up to the level of Heuer, Omega and even Rolex. Whoever’s reading this, please buy this watch so I don’t have to.
From the seller: This 1974 classic automatic Seiko chronograph bullhead is running great and keeps good time. The Crystal is scratch free and the case is in excellent used condition without any major scratch. Due to its vintage condition the back case has been replaced.
Bulova Deep Sea “Devil Diver”
What we like: Bulova, an American watch company whose mechanical timepieces were all originally produced in Switzerland (some are now made in Japan and Hong Kong), has a long history of making really cool stuff. Their Devil Diver features a 666-meter depth rating — hence the moniker — and while the recent reissue is extremely cool, there’s nothing quite like the original. Vintage dive watches and vintage chronographs are climbing in value as more people have gotten into watches and watch collecting in recent years, but pieces like this Bulova (in amazing shape, considering it’s almost 50 years old) have stayed fairly reasonable in a market that’s pushed the majority of vintage Swiss chronographs well over the “reasonable” mark.
From the seller: Solid stainless steel “big block” cushion case is unpolished and still retains original factory brushed finish with sharp edges. Measures 38mm excluding original Bulova-signed winding crown.
Breitling Top Time
What we like: A vintage Breitling chronograph needs little introduction, especially one this gorgeous. Breitling’s Top Time watches were first introduced in 1964, and production ended gradually in the late 70s, giving them just the right window for maximal cool points. Hell, Sean Connery wore a Top Time with a freaking Geiger counter in it in Thunderball. But the elegance of this specific model whispers “class” more than it shouts “sport”: the gold cushion case with beautiful radial scalloping, the slightly-domed acrylic crystal, the subdued silver dial. The black subdials just give it that extra dose of panache, taking a would-be dress watch and making it perfect for an elevated “everyday” timepiece.
From the seller: Manual-wind watch with beautiful original silver dial with black subdials. Has been cleaned and serviced and timed, and confirmed working precisely and in excellent condition.