Putting a new spin on vintage-inspired watches, Omega reaches into the past to give us a tangible taste of century-old horology.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Putting a new spin on vintage-inspired watches, Omega reaches into the past to give us a tangible taste of century-old horology.

A refurbished vintage movement is used in the First Omega WristChronograph Limited Edition.
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Mechanical watches are a celebration of the past, and modern interpretations of vintage models are even more so. But Omega has taken it a step further by using actual vintage movements from 1913 in its new First Omega Wrist-Chronograph Limited Edition.

The movement in question is the 18’’’ CHRO and it was the first chronograph movement Omega used in a wristwatch. Obviously, the 100-year-old calibres needed some refurbishment but it was an undertaking that involved several hundred hours. The main challenge was to accommodate the differing dimensions of the individual parts, since manufacturing processes from that long ago weren’t exactly known for consistency. For example, the plates and bridges had to be milled out to ensure the new jewels fit in the original components, while parts like the gear-train wheels and the hairspring had to be made from scratch.

Things on the surface have stayed true to the original design, with few changes. The bi-register chronograph is cased in white gold with wire lugs, and has a grand feu enamel dial, blued Breguet-style hands and painted Gothic numerals. It’s also stamped with the old Omega logo. Only the central chronograph seconds hand, pusher and crown are made of Omega’s proprietary Sedna gold.

As a final touch, the watch features a hinged caseback, as Omega’s first wrist-worn chronographs did, when used by the British Royal Flying Corps during World War I. But sapphire crystal has been added beneath it to allow safe viewing of this rare movement. Limited to 18 pieces. 
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Even as A. Lange & Sohne’s entry-level tourbillon, the 1815 Tourbillon impresses. Introduced in 2014, the tourbillon included the Zero-Reset mechanism and the stop-seconds mechanism for the tourbillon (both patented), which allows the hands to reset to zero when pulling the crown while also stopping the tourbillon, thus enabling the user to easily set the watch to the nearest second. Following the elaborate Handwerkskunst edition of this watch three years ago, the watchmaker presents a new 100-piece limited edition with an enamel dial. This edition is slightly thicker at 11.3mm because the enamel accounts for 0.2mm of that, but is a lovely backdrop for the watch’s blued steel hands, black numerals and red “12” — also printed in enamel and fired separately.
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The relaunched Defy collection from 2017 reminded the world that Zenith hadn’t lagged behind on the innovation highway. The Defy El Primero 21 is one of the rare chronographs that can measure down to 1/100th of a second and the Defy Lab, with its ultra-high frequency oscillator, is reportedly the most accurate mechanical movement in the world. The latest addition to the family is surprisingly simple, but will appeal to a wider, more casual demographic. The time-only Defy Classic comes in two versions: one with a blue dial with a date window at 3 o’clock and one that’s skeletonised. Both feature the Defy case design but with a smaller 41mm diameter, and are offered with three different strap options each. The in-house Elite 670 movement oscillates at 4Hz and has a 50-hour power reserve.
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Bringing together discrete design features from across various models can result in a disastrous mess, but Panerai’s Luminor California 8 Days DLC PAM 779 manages to pull it off  in this horological equivalent of a greatest hits album. A 44mm DLC-coated titanium Luminor case, lever bridge crown guard, “California” dial (a mix of Arabic and Roman numerals historically found on Radiomir models), blued hands and an eightday power reserve resulted in a watch that’s familiar yet fresh. With the addition of a bund strap – fairly uncommon with modern Panerai watches – the PAM 779 is a rugged new hybrid that miraculously works.