Following our previous blog post on how to build a watch collection under $2000, we have been asked to recommend some watches that can be had for a smaller budget of $100. Vintage watches are incredibly fascinating because they can be enjoyed by everyone relatively affordably. Unlike all the modern timepieces that boast affordability and "cutting out the middle man", vintage watches do away with all that marketing by reflecting their value in their price, and the fact that it has stood the test of time. Of course we turn to ebay since they are the largest consumer to consumer marketplace, and if you buy correctly, will be able to enjoy quality vintage watches at good prices. Without further ado, here are our top 5 vintage watch brands that can be bought for under $100.
1) Tissot PR516 Electronic
Made in the 1970s, there were not many vintage dive watches on the market and due to the trend, many manufactures made dive watch designs and Tissot did the same with the PR 516. These were however not pressure rated and only good for swimming but were beautiful watches nonetheless. As more dive watches grew in popularity, the Tissot PR 516 remained relatively affordable due to the oversupply of dive watches. These were in fact incredibly well made piece and can be found cheaply under $100. The one photographed in particular is one of the rarer variation featuring an engine turned bezel. Mechanical versions of this watch can also be found for this price range.
2) Gruen Precision
Many of you may not have heard of Gruen, but it is in fact an American watch brand alongside Bulova, Hamilton etc, just that they are way less collected, which is why they are the perfect value proposition. Gruen designed and manufactured alot of their own movements, even making complications in "precision factories" in Switzerland are now taken over by Rolex and used as admin facilities. They produced watches till to mid 1970 and until many records from 1950s were destroyed making watches made in that era difficult to date. Nonetheless, these were still incredible watches with beautiful dial designs and can be found relatively easily for cheap.
3) Caravelle 333 Feet Diver
Caravelle is a brand that is closely affiliated to Bulova, to the extent where they used the same datecode stamped on the movement, letters used corresponded to year of production (L=50's, M=60's,N=70's, etc). Just like Bulova's infamous devil's diver, Caravelle also has a replica version of the 666 feet, which is cheaper than the Bulova's version. However, they are still not within the $100 range. They however also produced the 333 feet diver which meet the criteria of this post and they have beautiful hands and dial configuration too. You can find the more common pepsi bezel variation as well.
4) Rado Green Horse
Vintage Rado has been gaining some popularity in recent years and a relatively strong cult following. The movements used are work horse movements and they have a fascinating dial design. Did you know that the anchor logo actually moves (the anchor spins and rotates just like a rotor plate). Furthermore, the Rado Greenhorse in the picture features are 4 segment dial and a really cool double kissing seahorse on the left side of the dial. For some reason, despite having so many elements on the dial, it does not seem overwhelming or cluttered. In fact, there is a degree of symmetry and balance. Not to mention, it comes on an original BOR bracelet made by Rado. All in all, this is 100% a value for money purchase and you should start looking for one before prices shoot up beyond the $100 mark.
5) Titoni Airmaster 77 Jewels
Forget the Tudor Tuxedo Oyster prince or Universal Geneve's Polerouter if you are on a tight budget, check out this Vintage Titoni Airmaster which has a whopping 77 Jewels. While having more jewels does not always equate to a better movement, it sets a baseline standard of what to expect of the watch, not to mention how beautifully designed the dial is with a roulette wheel date. We do suspect however that the dial in the picture is refinished, but i am sure with a bit of luck and patience, you will be able to find a Titoni Airmaster within your budget.
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