“Even if the price is right for ‘dem vintage pieces?”
Nope. Not now, not ever. Before I try to my best to explain why, I’ve got a confession to make. I know jack sh*t about vintage watches.
It’s hard enough to keep track of everything in modern timepieces, from their reference numbers to the movement codes, so can you imagine how hard it would be to become an expert in vintage watches?!
Yeah, thought so.
So, why do I own a vintage if I don’t know a single thing about them? Better yet, why do I have four (well, one is skirting the term loosely but hey… )? And why am I so adamant I’ll never get rid of them? It’s simple, really. These watches are worth so much more than the sum of their parts – or current monetary value, for that matter. It’s because they have a ton of sentimental value.
Each piece has a unique story and a vivid memory attached to them. They’re not just watches to me – they’re one of the founding reasons behind this blog. The four vintage watches you see here encapsulates my principle when it comes to watch ownership. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be fancy. It has to have meaning, a purpose, if you will.
Plus, watch ownership has to be fun. And accessible.
I’ve lost count of the times someone has “decided” that I roll in a pool of money every time I mention I’m into watches.
“Aurgh, you like watches ah? Wah… not a cheap hobby. Only bosses can play with watches eh…”
No, and no. My mission within the watch community is this – to prove to everyone out there that watches ARE indeed an affordable hobby. An expensive watch isn’t necessarily a good one.
“And speaking of
good great affordable watches…”
Allow me to introduce to you, the venerable Seiko 5. This lineup of affordable mechanical watches has been around for the better part of five decades (yes, 50+ years!) and continues to remain as an icon in the world of horology. Ask almost any watch enthusiast out there what was their first mechanical watch and chances are, they’ll say it’s a Seiko 5.
It’s the watch equivalent of the Porsche 911. Except that you and I can actually afford several. Nay, scratch that. The Seiko 5 is the Toyota Corolla of the watch world. Dependable, affordable, reliable, easy to maintain and full of engineering integrity. It really does make you ask, “Why bother with anything else?”
However, unlike the Toyota Corolla, the Seiko 5 exists in a multitude of variants. It’s near impossible to keep track of every single model within the range but rest assured that no matter which one you purchase, you’re guaranteed of five key attributes.
- Automatic winding
- Day-date display
- Water resistance
- Recessed crown at 4 o’clock (certain modern variants have abandoned this design cue, though)
- Durable case and bracelet (in certain quarters, it’s the inclusion of the Diaflex mainspring and Diashock system)
As expected, the Seiko 5 you see here is my first mechanical watch. It was a gift from my old man when I was in my late teens or thereabouts. Naturally, I didn’t know what to make of it then. I mean, sure it looks unique and all and it tells the time (day and date too) but other than that, it’s a simple-looking watch. Nothing more, nothing less.
“A simple-looking watch. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Funny thought because at no point then was I told that the aforementioned statement would evolve into a sort of mantra that would form the basis of what I looked for in a watch many years later.
Backtracking a bit, I still don’t know precisely when my interest in watches peaked but I can vaguely recall lying down in my bed one day with the Seiko 5 on my wrist. As I stared at it, I noticed that the smooth (ish?) seconds hand was rather hypnotic to watch. Coupled to the quiet environment I was in, I was also able to hear the tick-tick-tick of the movement within when I brought it closer.
The combination of both was a heady cocktail that spurred me on to look up what makes a mechanical watch. As I began to read more and more about it, my interest on watches intensified.
It certainly didn’t help that I was already a huge car nut so I could definitely appreciate fine engineering. I guess one could say that what followed was history.
I became fascinated with the whole notion of a mechanical watch. Which then led me down a slippery slope towards other kinds of watches from quartz pieces to solar-powered units.
At that point, I found it extremely intriguing that mankind had managed to assembled bits and pieces of metal and turn it into something that could tell time.
What more, something that could theoretically tell time for… well, forever. If I ever got transported back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I would still know when’s tea time. Sure, tea time may be five to fifteen minutes later/earlier in the next few months but you get my point…
And so, that’s that. My Seiko 5. One of four watches that will never leave my collection.
“That Orient… Was it in WW2 or something?”
Perhaps so, judging from the condition of the case. I wouldn’t know for sure because it was never in my family. This Orient (of which I still have no clue what model/reference it is) was gifted to me by my significant other’s father.
If you know me personally, I’m rather talkative but when that moment unfolded, I was speechless. Someone could’ve offered me a Grand Seiko SBGW031 there and then for this banged up Orient and I would’ve told them to go…
Aside from getting a watch from your own parents, nothing beats that feeling, folks. Trust me on this. All of a sudden, that (frankly) beaten-to-near-death, entry-level vintage Orient has risen through the ranks of my personal stable to become one of my most treasured pieces.
Who cares if the power reserve is laughable? Who cares if the accuracy is hilariously bad (it’s not, mind you)? All I know is that this watch, with all its myriad of scratches and dings will, one day, be handed down to my children. Also, if anyone of you out there knows the exact reference for this model, please, PUH-LEASE let me know in the comments below. I will buy you dinner, no questions asked. I’ll airmail your dinner if you’re not based in Malaysia.
“Is that… A Tissot Seastar?! Doesn’t look like one. At all.”
Oh yeah, best believe it is. The first time I laid eyes on this, not only was I beaming with joy, I was also severely confused. Happily confused. Like most religious leaders.
No wonder they don’t like change.
Anyway, that’s another can of worms for another day – back to the watch. This particular model is believed to have hit the market in the late 70s/early 80s. From the looks of it, the vintage Tissot Seastar was more of a dressy-casual piece as opposed to the full-blown diver it has morphed into today – lesser known Seastar II aside.
What’s even more interesting about this Seastar is also the movement inside. From what I can deduce – after having it looked at by a watchmaker and hours on forums – this Seastar runs the Tissot 2571 caliber. Also, by hailing from the aforementioned era, I have my reasons to believe that this movement was one of the many that shared parts with calibers from Omega.
So, there’s that. A watch with tremendous sentimental value and quite a decorated (heh, pun intended) movement sealed within a well-built, versatile timepiece.
Oh, it’s also another gift from my SO’s father. #bestinlaws nominee right here!
“From a Seiko we came, to another Seiko we shall return to.”
Last but not least, a (pseudo vintage) quartz Seiko chronograph. Well, only from an aesthetic point of view as the pushers are jammed to end. Still, the fact that this is a watch from my birth year, combined with it being another gift from the same person means that it’s sentimental AF. AS FRASIER.
You might think that the olive NATO it’s on is an aftermarket unit and you are correct. As with most affordable Seikos, the Achilles heel of the watch was its rather flimsy bracelet. After a couple of outings with it, I knew I had to swap it out for something else – shout out to Conkly for the strap!
For the hardcore Seiko buffs, within this watch ticks the quartz 7T32 caliber. From my limited understanding, it’s a popular quartz movement that was in production from the 90s till the early 2000s. As a result, I should be able to source for a donor watch to cannibalize parts for my personal piece. Keeping that in mind, there’s still no avoiding the fact that it is an old movement so parts may be thin on the ground already.
Frankly speaking though, I’m not exactly in a rush to get this patched up. As long as it still keeps time, I’m willing to let it soldier on for that bit more.
“Does that mean you’ll sell your other modern watches?”
Well, perhaps in the distant future but even then, it’s a long shot. I don’t know about you guys but nearly every single watch I own has a story or a memory attached to it. I’m not one to just go out and purchase a new watch because I read about it online or because it’s new and a “MUST HAVE!”
So, there you have it, my explicitly long explanation on why I’ll never get rid of my vintage watches. TL;DR?
Old watches were gifts. Many meaning, much memories. Cannot sell.