The Best Vintage Watches Under $10,000

Breitling Navitimer  Ref. 806

Dating to the mid-1950s, the Navitimer is perhaps the ultimate pilot’s watch, having been in production for over 70 years. With its multiple timing scales and slide rule bezel, this was a true “tool watch” in the original sense, designed so that pilots could make on-the-fly computations relating to navigation, fuel consumption, and more.

IWC Caliber 89

Dating to the late 1940s, it powered the famous military-issued Mark XI from IWC and later, gold, steel, and (rarely) platinum-cased dress watches from the same brand. These dress watches are fairly readily available on the secondary market for under $5,000, even with solid gold cases.

Omega Speedmaster Ref. 3570.50

There are 1,000 ways to buy a Speedy — or so it would seem — but it’s tough to argue with the value proposition inherent in the 1990s-era reference 3570.50. Housed within the classic, 42mm “twisted lug” Speedmaster case, these beauties feature handwound Caliber 861 movements, tritium dials and the Hesalite crystals that collectors love.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16570

Available in black or white dials — the white being more expensive given that color’s rarity within the Rolex sports watch oeuvre — this 40mm tool watch is a true traveler’s timepiece in that the 24-hour hand can be set independently.

Tudor Submariner Ref. 76100/79090

Tudor was set up as a less expensive alternative to Rolex and, as such, originally used off-the-shelf Swiss movements from the likes of Fleurier and ETA. These days, you can nab a 5-digit Tudor Sub — which uses Rolex hardware and an ETA movement — from the mid-‘80s/early-90s for well under 10k.

Zodiac Aerospace GMT

Back in the 1960s and ‘70s, Swiss firm Zodiac — which is now under the Fossil Group umbrella — made some of the coolest tool watches known to man. The Aerospace GMT, which has seen several modern iterations released in recent years, was one such watch.

The way the vintage watch market has taken off in the past decade, you’d be forgiven for assuming that a late entry means you’re priced out of all of the best stuff. And indeed, the days of $5,000 GMT-Master 1675s are long over; the afternoons of $2,000 Datejusts are in the rearview mirror; and the evenings of $500 Seamasters are in the past. However, this doesn’t mean that bargains can’t still be had.

Our goal here is simple:  to help you live a more adventurous,  eventful and engaging life.