Your Guide to the Most Popular Vintage Watches from the 1950s

Your Guide to the Most Popular Vintage Watches from the 1950s

Was there ever a superior time in history to be a watchmaker than the 1950s? All the more explicitly, a watchmaker in Switzerland. With the country’s impartiality in the as of late closed WWII, their watch industry was just about the just one actually working, the plants and creation lines of all other nations having been appropriated for the war effort.

It implied they had the worldwide market essentially to themselves toward the finish of threats, and it was something they exploited. What’s more, the 50s flagged an enormous period of prosperity, especially in America, with an age which had grown up during the Great Depression and afterward been exposed to proportioning unexpectedly set free with cash to purchase extravagance looks for the first time.

So the stage was set for what might become horology’s first obvious brilliant age, and a considerable lot of the names we look on today as notorious legends started their excursion here. Underneath, we select the absolute most important.

Rolex Explorer ref. 6610

Key Features:

–36mm Case

–Stainless Steel Construction

–Black Dial. Gilt

–3/6/9 Indexes

–Chronometer-Certified Cal. 1030

Click here to gain proficiency with the contrast between Rolex Explorer and Explorer II.

Few makes delighted in the 1950s more than Rolex. While the Datejust from the earlier decade had made the company solidly famous, Rolex had not at this point arrived at the grandiose statures at which it sit these days. In numerous spots, Omega was as yet the liked brand among many.

However, the 50s was to likewise offer ascent to something completely new; the apparatus watch idea. Presently, rather than only telling the time, a model might have explicit highlights added to help wearers in their different positions or exercises. Rolex was at the bleeding edge of this novel type and it accomplished more than everything else to get its now unassailable reputation.

Top of the World

The watch that seemingly begun everything showed up in 1953 with the Explorer – and its roots can be found on the most elevated top on earth. Rolex had been supporting endeavors on Everest since 1933, both to acquire specialized information on how watches adapted to the harshest conditions conceivable and furthermore, as you would expect, for the great showcasing opportunities.

By the hour of Sir John Hunt’s expedition in ’53 – the one during which Hillary and Norgay broadly first arrived at the culmination – Rolex had sponsored a sum of nine endeavors. At the point when the pair arrived at the culmination on 29th May, they were wearing the company’s Oyster Perpetual watches, ref. 6092 and ref. 6298, early Bubbleback models currently alluded to as ‘Pre-Explorers’ among authorities. Obediently restoring the watches upon their drop, they turned into the models for Rolex’s all-new creation that was delivered a couple of months later.

The Explorer Arrives

The first Explorer watches, the ref. 6150 and ref. 6350, were dispatched all the while, still with Bubbleback cases to house the simple A296 programmed development, yet with a dial format that was to become a calling card. The dark dial and 3/6/9 numerals are currently inseparable from the Explorer name, just as giving the entire thing a magnificently adjusted aesthetic.

In 1959, the following emphasis showed up with the ref. 6610, flaunting Rolex’s first completely in-house constructed development, the Cal. 1030, taking into account a re-visitation of compliment, more slim case backs. In spite of the fact that it was itself supplanted in 1963 with the super long running ref. 1016, the ref. 6610 was the reference that truly solidified the structure the Explorer would save for a long time, with the looks not changing essentially or developing past the 36mm measurements until 2010.

In all, the model conceived at the highest point of the world is the one which has maybe changed the most un-over the ages, even from a brand which adheres to its plans as strictly as Rolex. A distinct, somber excellence, the Rolex Explorer is a pioneer in the instrument watch field.

Rolex Submariner ref. 5512

Key Features:

–40mm Case

–Stainless Steel Construction

–Black Dial. Overlaid; Matte

–Cal. 1530; Cal. 1560; Cal. 1570

–200m Water Resistance

Click here to become familiar with the absolute first Rolex Submariner. 

Any conversation of watches originating from the 1950s needs to make reference to the Submariner, potentially the most well known plunge model at any point made. Like the Explorer, it also was initially made in 1953, in spite of the fact that it wouldn’t make a big appearance before the general population until the next year’s Basel Fair. While it wasn’t the primary illustration of what we would now consider a cutting edge plunge watch, having missed out to the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms by merely months, it was the first to be waterproof to 100m.

An moment hit on its delivery (and early forms were viewed as adequate for both James Bond and his genuine businesses, the British Ministry of Defense for whom it turned into a standard Navy issue) Rolex was a long way from completed the process of dabbling with the plan. Before the decade’s over the Sub was into its 10th reference, with a few having covering creation runs and others going on for not exactly a year and being underlying moment quantities.

  • 6200
  • 6204
  • 6205
  • 6536
  • 6536/1
  • 6538
  • 5508
  • 5510

The brand proceeded to hardheartedly test, assess, and develop its progressive plunge model, making nonstop redesigns, both major and minor. This proceeded until 1959, when the Rolex Submariner reference 5512 emerged.

The Classic Submariner Profile

The net consequence of all that difficult work and tenacious assessment, it was the ref. 5512 that set the appearance of the Submariner for the following 50 years. Its case had developed to 40mm, the Twinlock crown gave a water obstruction of 200m, and the bezel was made to overhang the case somewhat, just as being given a serrated edge to make turning it simpler (as recommended by the MOD). Also, crown monitors were incorporated interestingly, securing the famously most fragile purpose of any watch design.

Those watches additionally experienced changes of their own. The underlying run of 100 or so models off the line were square fit as a fiddle, however they impeded the crown such a lot of it made winding or setting the time troublesome. (Strangely, it is accepted that the cases the brand had just made with square monitors were transported across to sister company Tudor for use on its own Submariner, the ref. 7928). Rolex’s Submariner watchmen were then given a more pointed shape, prior to forming into the delicately adjusted sort we are generally acquainted with today.

The Movements

As for the development, the Cal. 1530 was utilized at first however not long after was supplanted by the Cal. 1560 and later Cal. 1570. Both the ensuing developments were COSC-appraised, and those ref. 5512 watches got an extra 2-lines of text on their dials (known as 4-liners). Vitally the early Cal. 1530 models were not chronometer-evaluated, and along these lines didn’t include the extra chronometer-affirmation text (known as 2-liners). Fundamentally more uncommon than their later-time partners, they stay the sacred goal of numerous ref. 5512 collectors.

The ref. 5512 ran as far as possible up to around 1978, and it is thought of (alongside its nearby kin, the consistently non-chronometer ref. 5513) to be the remainder of the unadulterated Submariners. The gem remained acrylic and, much more significantly, there was no date capacity or Cyclops focal point to ruin the balance. Still a gigantically wanted vintage exemplary, the ref. 5512 imprints the Rolex Submariner coming of age.

Rolex GMT-Master ref. 6542

Key Features:

–38mm Case

–Stainless Steel Construction

–Black Dial. Gilt

–Cal. 1036; Cal. 1065; Cal. 1066

–Rotating 24-hour Bezel. Bakelite Insert

–24-Hour GMT Hand

Click here for a definitive purchasing guide on the Rolex GMT-Master.

The 1950s likewise saw the unfolding of the Jet Age, with innovation established during the war and utilized in automated rockets and early, juvenile military aircraft discovering its direction onto commercial carriers of the first run through. Probably the soonest transporter to take conveyance of this new high velocity transport was Pan American Airways.

A New Age Brings New Challenges

Pan Am was among the main companies to begin offering long stretch flights, on board the as of late presented Boeing 707, and it presented an issue nobody had encountered previously. Intersection a few time regions at high paces offered ascend to the issue of stream slack. Understanding its incapacitating effect could have extreme repercussions for their groups, the carrier commissioned broad investigation into the condition. The discoveries inferred that having some route for pilots to know about both their ‘home’ time just as that in their inevitable objective went far to overcoming a portion of the effects.

From there, it was a little advance into getting a watchmaker to come up with a model that could show double cross zones all the while. Rene P. Jeanneret, a chief at Rolex at that point, worked with a Pan Am group headed up by incredible pilot Captain Frederick Libby to discover an answer, and the GMT-Master ref. 6542 was it.

The First Pepsi

Like the very best innovations, the strength of the watch lay in its straightforwardness. Rolex utilized its Cal. 1030 type as the reason for the mechanics, adding a GMT hand and another driving wheel, equipped to run at a large portion of the speed of the standard hour hand, just as a date show. It was renamed the Cal. 1036 all the while. Then, getting the turning bezel idea from the earlier year’s ref. 6202 Turn-O-Graph model, Rolex traded the hour long degrees for an engraved 24-hour scale.

The additional hour hand spun around the dial once per day rather than twice, and the wearer could basically turn the bezel to compare with the long stretches of time contrast, with the hand highlighting the right second timezone on the bezel. To further assist with brisk meaningfulness, the top portion of the bezel somewhere in the range of 18 and 6 was hued blue, while the base half (somewhere in the range of 6 and 18) was painted red.

While the GMT-Master, similar to the Submariner, supported the picture that Rolex couldn’t take the blame no matter what during the 50s, it had one downside which before long got evident. The bi-shading encompass embed, which gave the watch its ‘Pepsi’ epithet, was produced using Bakelite, the principal synthetically created plastic. On the GMT, it end up being particularly weak and inclined to breaking, and its installed, gleaming radium numerals represented a wellbeing danger because of their radiation levels. Subsequently, it was supplanted after a couple of years into its creation with a non-shining aluminum embed. This makes the vintage instances of the ref. 6542 with their unique Bakelite embeds still unblemished extraordinarily valuable.

The reference proceeded until 1959, experiencing three type changes (the Cal. 1036, Cal. 1065, and Cal. 1066) just as finding a featuring part in one of the best of all James Bond films, Goldfinger. The supported wrist clothing of a specific hot enemy, it is commonly alluded to as the “Pussy Galore” inside vintage gathering circles. The Rolex GMT-Master has been the double time region extravagance watch against which all others are decided for over 60-years now, and the first of the variety is properly viewed as an icon.

Omega Speedmaster ref. CK2998

Key Features:

–40mm Case

–Stainless Steel Construction

–Black Dial

–Triple Sub Counters

–Caliber 321

–Black Tachymeter Bezel

Click here for a definitive purchasing guide on the Omega Speedmaster.

As Rolex’s nearest rival, Omega likewise made some wonderful watches during the 1950s, and the respected Speedmaster is maybe the most all around cherished. The first shown up in 1957, one of three new deliveries which together made up Omega’s Professional Collection. Close by the Seamaster 300 (jump watch), and the Railmaster (antimagnetic watch), the Speedmaster was potentially the most innovative.

Born for the race track, it was the main chronograph wristwatch to move the tachymeter scale to the outside bezel to let loose space on the dial, and it was likewise the first to incorporate a 12-hour aggregator, with the model being focused on the universe of perseverance hustling. The presentation reference, the CK 2915, is clearly a big name in authority circles however the development, the CK2998 gave only two years after the fact in 1959, has a similarly critical part to play in the Speedmaster legacy.

Setting the Blueprint

Inside, this subsequent age reflected the main, fueled by the now-famous Caliber 321, a section wheel-controlled, manual winding chronograph development created with one-time Omega auxiliary Lemania. While it was at first presented during the 1940s, the type was as yet viewed as the most amazing aspect its sort on the planet when the Speedy began utilizing it.

Even outwardly, the progressions were just generally minor. O-rings were fitted around the chronograph pushers to assist with water obstruction, and the watch grew a solitary millimeter, expanding to 40mm – exclusively an aftereffect a major trend dark aluminum bezel embed that supplanted the tachymeter scale engraved straightforwardly into the steel on the CK 2915. This change helped intelligibility an extraordinary arrangement, just as giving a more particular look overall.

Elsewhere, things pretty much remained the equivalent, except for the handset. The previous Broad Arrows were changed out for Alpha style hands, with either a straight cudgel or candy clear hand. The remainder of the dial was continued; the threesome of sub counters were indistinguishable, ventured and gotten done with a round example, while the fundamental records were done with a lot of lume.

All in all, the Speedmaster was just about the most able and very much appreciated mechanical stopwatch cash could purchase at that point, as Rolex would find a couple of years after the fact when it went into fight against the Speedmaster with the Daytona, and lost staggeringly. Be that as it may, the best was on the way for Omega.

The Speedmaster Boldly Goes

The references of the Speedmaster worked somewhere in the range of 1957 and 1969 are on the whole known as the ‘pre-moons’ among collectors.

  • CK 2915
  • CK 2998
  • 105.002
  • 105.003
  • 145.003

The next, the ref. 105.012 is the one which really encountered the lunar surface on Buzz Aldrin’s wrist. From that point on, we have the Moonwatch. In any case, it was the CK 2998 which was the first to investigate space in 1962, when space explorer Wally Schirra wore his own, secretly bought model during the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, a nine-hour journey which circled the Earth six times.

So it can guarantee a significant part of the credit for blowing some people’s minds at NASA when they started their quest for an authority flight-qualified watch in 1964, putting the Speedmaster name making a course for becoming indistinguishable from the Space Race. In 2012, Omega praised the 50th commemoration of that memorable accomplishment, delivering the Speedmaster FOIS (First Omega in Space). A nearly duplicate of the first (except for a couple of present day upgrades), it demonstrated a success on its appearance, proof of the immortality of the Speedmaster’s plan. An essential part in pretty much the most amazing legacy of any watch, the CK 2998 is an unquestionable requirement have.

Breitling Navitimer ref. 806

Key Features:

–41mm Case

–Stainless Steel Construction

–All Black Dial

–Integrated Slide Rule

–Beaded Bezel

–Venus 178/Valjoux 72 movements

–Triple Register Chronograph

Click here for a definitive purchasing guide on the Breitling Navitimer.

Founded in 1884, Breitling spent the initial not many years of the 20th century creating and improving the mechanical stopwatch. It was Breitling that previously made a watch with one free pusher to begin, pause and reset the chronograph and afterward, after 10 years, carried out models with two fastens; the top to begin and delay timings, the base to reset; significantly further expanding accuracy.

As well as that, Breitling has had a relationship with the universe of flight for a long time, and the brand recently provided locally available instruments to many commercial carriers and military aviation based armed forces from as right on time as the 1930s. So it makes sense that Breitling would in the end come up with a world-beating chronograph watch planned explicitly for proficient pilots.

Calculations On The Fly

The early existence of the Navitimer is covered in more secret than you may might suspect for something that happened in the relatively recent past. Nobody appears to be ready to concur even on which year the watch appeared, for certain specialists guaranteeing it was 1954 and others saying 1952. Breitling themselves propose it was the last mentioned, however as a large number of their authority records seem to have been lost or annihilated, it is still fairly an unknown.

What is sure is that the first reference was the ref. 806, a characteristic replacement to the Chronomat from the 1940s. That had been the main watch to incorporate a slide rule on its bezel and had been focused on researchers and designers. A ‘CHRONOgraph’ for ‘MAThematicians.’ The Navitimer, its name a portmanteau of ‘route’ and ‘clock’ was a considerably more elaborate creation unequivocally for pilots, and took the term instrument watch to exacting new heights.

It was dispatched when cockpit instrumentation even on board the most progressive aircrafts was still genuinely essential when compared to the present day. The Navitimer, planned by Breitling with the assistance of AOPA (The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) and mathematician Marcel Robert, could be utilized for a confounding cluster of various logarithmic estimations, including normal velocity, ground speed, fuel consume, paces of climb or plunge, and slipped by time.

To do as such, the watch had three scales; the highest on the bezel, and another around the edge of the dial. Beneath that lay the tachymeter, appeared in kilometers. The top scale on the pivoting encompass could be changed in either heading to make computations against the base scale, taking into consideration simple and speedy (when you knew how) increases and divisions. The scales themselves showed the three most pivotal units for a pilot; STAT for standard mileage, NAUT for nautical miles and KM for kilometers.

The Looks & Movements

It wasn’t until you had battled past all that disarray of numbers that you got to the actual watch, the real time-advising part bound to a moderately little region in the center, the space diminished significantly further by the sub dials at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. However, regardless of all the data battling for land on the Navitimer’s face, the model figured out how to pull off the stunt of remaining genuinely decipherable. It is, clearly, a bustling looking watch, however considering the sheer measure of information accessible at the fingertips, it is a noteworthy feat.

The first models had every dark dial, including sub counters, with the peripheral scale in white. Post-1965, Breitling gave the up and coming age of the Navitimer – the ref. 809, known as the Cosmonaute – white sub-dials to give a converse panda arrangement. The force was given by one of two developments. The soonest pieces contained the Venus 178, a physically winding, segment wheel instrument. That was joined not long after by the Valjoux 72, as would proceed to drive the principal Daytona. Both remain amazingly collectible vintage models and the contemporary Navitimer range overall is as famous today as it has at any point been. Without question, quite possibly the most particular and recognizable watches of late years.

Rolex Day-Date ref. 1803

Key Features:

–36mm Case

–Gold or Platinum Construction

–Fluted Bezel

–Cal. 1555; Cal. 1556

–Acrylic Crystal

–Day in 11 Languages

Click here for a definitive purchasing guide on the Rolex Day-Date.

While its blossoming instrument watch assortment was getting the greater part of the consideration during the 50s, Rolex actually opened up space directly at the highest point of its setup for another leader. That position had been held by the Datejust since its delivery in 1945, the primary waterproof, naturally twisting wristwatch with a date show. Barely 10 years after the fact, the first Day-Date landed, taking everything the Datejust could do and adding to it, packing in a subsequent schedule capacity and making it the lone watch at an opportunity to have the day of the week illuminated in full.

To further concrete its rank, Rolex chose the Day-Date would just be created from the best of valuable metals; 18k gold (on the whole three flavors) just as the best of all, platinum. It, apparently like all the other things the brand endeavored during the period, was a prompt achievement and the Day-Date pulled in the consideration of so many of the first class it ultimately won the completely non-amusing epithet of the President.

The Day-Date Hits its Stride

However, as was decent with new Rolex models during the 50s, the beginning of the Day-Date’s life was moderately fierce. In only three years it was into its third era as redesigns and changes (essentially inside) were made, before all the pieces became alright in 1959 with the ref. 18xx series.

This was the reach which would set the norm for almost 20-years, not being supplanted again until 1977. It also was the one to present the gigantic assortment of dial tones, making the Day-Date nearly as chameleonic as the Datejust, and taking into account it to have a practically boundless allure across the whole range of purchasers. Essentially, whether you needed your watch to be unobtrusive and downplayed, a striking proclamation piece or anyplace in the middle, there was a Rolex Day-Date planned particularly for you.

It could likewise be had with a decision of bezel. On the ref. 1806, for instance, the encompass had a finished example known as a Morellis finish. The ref. 1802 had a smooth bezel while the ref. 1807 (both delivered somewhat later in 1963) had a strange tree husk surface. However, by a long shot the most well known of the whole ref. 18xx family was the ref. 1803, with its prototype fluted bezel.

Featuring a uniform arrangement of delicate edges, the fluted encompass advanced out of the more seasoned coin-edge type, a style which had a viable reason in that it gave watchmakers an approach to grasp the bezel as they screwed it down onto the center case. The case-backs additionally commonly had a coin edge for a similar explanation. On the Rolex Day-Date, the fluted bezel gave the perfect measure of refined grandness; something which grabbed the attention, however not in an excessively forcing way.

The Movements

As you would expect, thinking about the pace of improvement at Rolex during the time, the ref. 1803 a few type changes. It showed up fueled by the Cal. 1555, a fine development working away at 18,000vph and profiting by a free sprung Nivarox hairspring and Microstella guideline. That was supplanted in 1967 by the Cal. 1556, apparently indistinguishable yet with an increased recurrence of 19,800vph. The increment conceded an improvement in timekeeping exactness and furthermore a specific measure of characteristic stun protection.

In 1972, Rolex added a hacking capacity, so that pulling out the crown currently halted the seconds hand, making it simpler to correctly set the time. The lone thing missing was the accommodation of a Quickset component, so changing the day or date wasn’t possible autonomously of the primary hands, yet the President would need to sit tight for resulting ages before that became available.

The President ref. 1803 Today

A pristine Day-Date is as yet one of Rolex’s most costly models, with even the passage level adaptation costing in overabundance of $30,000. Shockingly however, an extraordinary illustration of the ref. 1803 can be had for under $7,000 on the used market.

The best option watch of many heads of state, directors of the board and all way of powerful pioneers, consistently in the best valuable metals, can be purchased for about a similar cost as the least expensive steel Submariner. Furthermore, odds are, due to the idea of the customary Day-Date wearer, it will have been very much taken care of and consistently overhauled. Still a definitive in optimistic wrist wear, the President ref. 1803 might be vintage Rolex’s greatest bargain.