15 Best Retro Watches Worth Your Time

Ask any watch connoisseur about a piece they treasure the most in their respective collections and there is a high chance that retro watches will come up in the conversation. Vintage timekeepers are often treated as valuable and desirable accessories given the rich history behind them. Most retro watches are also hand-crafted and are intricately built to last for a very long time. This is why they serve as testaments to many watch brands’ craftsmanship, attention to detail, and passion for top-notch watchmaking.

Nostalgic, functional, and appealing—retro watches are simply must-have items in any watch collection. If you have been wanting to anchor your collection with a dependable vintage timepiece, this article is just for you!

Retro Watches: Our Top Picks

From famous brands like Casio to underrated classics like Zodiac, there are many labels that offer trustworthy retro watches at different price points. Thus, it can be quite difficult and determine which ones best suit your lifestyle and budget the most. To help you choose the right piece, we have gathered 15 of the best retro watches in the market. Take a look below and see which one of these retro watches is most to your tastes!

1. Seiko 6139-6005

Seiko 6139-6005 watch on the wrist
Photo by borgsauce_wis on Instagram
  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 40mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, Automatic
  • Water resistance: 70 meters

Kicking off our list is a piece from one of the most highly-acclaimed names in Japanese horology. Seiko has been impressing everyone with its magnificent lineup of timekeepers since its establishment 140 years ago. From simple time-only quartz pieces to robust divers made specifically for conquering vast depths of waters, name what type of watch you desire and the brand probably has it in its arsenal.

One famous vintage Seiko timepiece is the Seiko 6139-6005, popularly known as the “True Pogue”. Created in the 1960s, this watch got its iconic nickname after NASA astronaut and United States Air Force (USAF) pilot Colonel William Pogue wore it during the Skylab Mission 4 in 1973.

This Seiko retro watch comes in a 40mm stainless steel case and has a caseback made out of the same material. It bears the famous Pepsi bezel first seen in Rolex GMT-Master, adding some stylish flair to this Seiko watch. The dial comes in a bright yellow shade and is protected by a layer of the brand’s proprietary Hardlex crystal. Since this is a chronograph watch, it has a 30-minute sub-dial as well as two pushers adjacent to the 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock markers.

The Seiko 6139-6005 is powered by the Caliber 6139B automatic movement which beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour (vph). In addition, this durable retro watch is equipped with Seiko’s Diashock technology, which allows it to maintain its accuracy even after taking some hard knocks and impacts.

All things considered, the Seiko 6139-6005 is a conversational piece worth checking out. It costs around $300 USD to $700 USD depending on the condition the piece is in. Indeed, this is one of those retro watches that can definitely help you stand out in a crowd.

2. Casio CA53W-1

front view of Casio CA53W-1 watch
  • Case material: Resin
  • Case dimension: 35mm
  • Movement: Japanese Quartz
  • Battery Life: approximately 5 years
  • Water-resistance: No depth rating available

Perhaps one of the most trailblazing watch inventions of all time, the Casio CA53W-1 is one of the first retro digital watches ever. This calculator watch was the most stylish and unique accessory back in the day. In fact, its popularity among kids, teens, and adults of all genders back then can be compared to the fame Apple watches enjoy today. Having it on your wrist was equated to being cool and trendy, especially since it appeared in several blockbuster films and tv shows such as Back to the Future Part II and III, Breaking Bad, and Mr. Bean.

Bearing a straightforward appearance, this Casio watch has a lightweight exterior that consists of a 35mm octagonal black case and a strap, both made out of resin. The face of this retro Casio watch seems quite intimidating at first due to its stocky 4-grid keypad. That said, once you get to know how it works, you will realize how helpful it is in making your daily routines easier. The buttons on the calculator keypad have markings that come in white, yellow, and red shades that allow for better readability even in dim lighting conditions.

When it comes to performance, this Casio digital watch will surely give you the best bang for your buck. Apart from having dual time features, it also has a stopwatch that measures 1/100th of a second in either elapsed, spilt, or 1st-2nd place modes, an hourly time signal, a full auto-calendar of up to 2009, and a 12 or 24-hour layout. With an accuracy rating of +/- 30 seconds per month, its 3-volt lithium CR2016 battery can last up to 5 years. Of course, as a calculator watch, you can also use it to perform 8-digit addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

The Casio CA53W-1 is still available in most Casio stores, under the Databank division. It retails at just $25 USD, making it not one of the cheapest retro watches available today.

3. Bulova Computron

front view of Bulova Computron 31mm watch

  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 31mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Battery Life: approximately 5 years
  • Water-resistance: 30 meters

Next up, we have another extraordinary retro digital watch, oozing with elegance and sophistication. The Bulova Computron Chrome edition was first introduced in 1976. It was the first light-emitting diode (“LED”) watch released by the American brand. Back then, watchmakers were still struggling with the quartz crisis. As a response, Bulova came up with the Bulova Computron as an innovative response to people’s growing demand for quartz watches. The Bulova Computron was hugely successful and allowed the brand to become widely known in both the quartz and digital watch markets.

In 2019, Bulova released a reissue of the Bulova Computron, which serves as a direct ode to its predecessor. This new edition retains the original vintage spirit of its forerunner while also incorporating updated attributes and modern technology.

Adventurous and creative are the perfect words to describe the new Bulova Computron watch. Its 31mm stainless steel trapezoidal case gives off a strong vintage feel and is paired with a uniquely-shaped steel bracelet with patterned links. Unusually enough, the blue LED display where you can see the time and date only occupies the bottom part of the long dial.

The focal point of this vintage Bulova watch is that almost every function it has can be controlled with just a push of a button, which can be found on the right side of the case. Pressing this button once will turn on the watch and doing so a few more times will show you the time and date. Bulova also added a dual time zone feature to the 2019 reissue as a way of fitting the watch to the current modern landscape.

Finally, this watch has a decent 30-meter water resistance rating and is powered by a quartz movement that has two-year battery life. Retailing at a reasonable price of $300 USD, this is one of those cool retro watches you definitely do not want to miss out on.

4. Grand Seiko First

front view of Grand Seiko First watch
  • Case material: 18ct Gold
  • Case dimension: 35mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, Manual-wind
  • Power reserve: approximately 45 hours
  • Water-resistance: No depth rating available

Grand Seiko is another Japanese brand that has been in the market for over 60 years. It is a subsidiary of Seiko dedicated to producing high-end, high-quality luxury watches on par with the top Swiss timepieces. Among its notable and rave-worthy products is, of course, the first-ever Grand Seiko watch, also known as the Grand Seiko 3180. This vintage Grand Seiko piece is the perfect epitome of a classic dress watch.

Compared to the aforementioned watches, the Grand Seiko 3180 has a more modest and subtle look. The dial has a straightforward analog layout, with a lovely off-white dial containing luxurious gold-plated dauphine hands and baton indices. The dial is inscribed with elegant cursive black texts that spell out the watch’s technical information while also helping to enhance its vintage vibe. This is paired with a 35mm stainless steel case in gold and a handsome dark brown leather strap.

In terms of its technical specification, this retro watch relies on a chronometer-grade Caliber 3180 movement that has an accuracy rating of +12/-3 seconds a day. Priced at around $1,700 USD to $3,000 USD, this is a limited edition retro piece that watch enthusiasts are sure to go crazy for.

5. Timex Marlin

side view of Timex Marlin 33mm watch
Photo by carolina_timex_machine on Instagram
  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 33mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, manual-wind
  • Water-resistance: No depth rating available

Here, we have another fantastic dress watch from the American brand Timex. Founded in 1984, Timex has always been more inclined to create quartz-powered pieces. That being said, the brand’s old yet tough mechanical Timex Marlin is surely one for the books.

Just like most retro watches, the Timex Marlin has had numerous reissues. However, the original models hailing from the ’60s remain unmatched when it comes to their movements and overall build. The aesthetic of the Timex Marlin leans towards the minimalist side. It comes in a gold-colored stainless steel case paired with a black leather strap. The beautiful champagne sunburst dial is decorated with matching gold Arabic numerals and hour markers.

In terms of functionality, this gold retro watch runs on a hand-wound mechanical movement. It is also water-proof so bringing this watch on your occasional trips to the pool would not be any problem. You just need to shell out around $60 USD to $300 USD to be able to purchase a Timex Marlin on legitimate secondhand markets.

6. Seiko TV Watch

front view of Seiko TV Watch
Photo by WAI’s Watch Museum on Flickr
  • Case dimension: 40mm
  • Weight: 190 grams
  • Battery life: 5 hours
  • Water-resistance: No depth rating available

The Seiko T001, better known as the Seiko TV Watch, is perhaps the most awe-inspiring piece in this entire rundown. Considered the inspiration for all present-day smartwatches, it serves as Seiko’s grand leap into the future.

Right off the bat, you will notice that the watch has a trailblazing design that goes beyond the norm. It comes in a square-shaped steel case with a sturdy strap of the same material. This monochromatic color combination goes really well with its two liquid crystal displays. These displays are dedicated to the television and time-calendar functions.

This Seiko wristwatch is meant to function with four other necessary components, namely the headphones, headphone cord, video, receiver, video connector. In order for the watch’s television to work, you just have to connect the receiver and the headphones to the watch body itself. In addition, this retro watch also comes with a stopwatch and an alarm feature, giving you the ultimate timekeeping experience.

If you want a stunning timepiece that reminds you of how much watchmaking has evolved throughout the years, you should definitely go for this Seiko TV watch. It goes for around $800 USD to $1,200 USD on secondhand markets.

7. Tissot Visodate Seastar Seven

front view of Tissot Visodate Seastar Seven watch
Photo by David Broglin on Flickr
  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 34mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, Automatic
  • Power reserve 45 hours
  • Water-resistance: No depth rating available

Here we have a Swiss entry that boasts regality and sophistication. Coming from the brand Tissot, whose philosophy revolves around the constant pursuit of innovation, the Tissot Visodate Seastar Seven is one of those models that certainly deserves more recognition.

This retro Tissot watch from the 1960s comes in a thin 34mm stainless steel case with a silver mesh strap. It has a large crown placed next to the 3 o’clock mark, with teeth edges for an easier grip. Meanwhile, the faded silver sunburst dial contrasts well with its applied black and gold indices and hands. A domed crystal protects the face of this vintage watch from any external threats and impacts, while a screw-down steel caseback ensures that the watch is safe from water damage. This is a dressy retro watch that breaks barriers by deviating from the usual bulky and fierce appearance of most diver watches.

The Tissot Visodate Seastar Seven runs on a 21-jewel self-winding movement called the Caliber 784-2. Bearing a price tag that ranges between $100 USD and $1,000 USD, this retro watch is sure to last you a long time.

8. Casio F-91W-1

front view of Casio F-91W-1 watch
  • Case material: Resin
  • Case dimension: 33mm
  • Movement: Japanese Quartz
  • Battery Life: approximately 7 years
  • Water-resistance: 50 meters

Another cool retro watch you should look out for is the Casio F-91W. It is best known for being the first mass-produced digital watch, with approximately 3 million units sold every year. While it does not have the same exclusivity as watches produced by Swiss giants like Rolex and Patek Philippe, this retro digital watch from the late ’80s is definitely a steal, especially considering its affordable price tag.

The Casio F-91W comes in a 33mm black resin case and a matching strap with a buckle closure that ensures it will fit nicely on your wrist. Its rectangular digital display is protected by a layer of heavy-duty acrylic glass and is rimmed with red, blue, and yellow elements that give this timepiece a fun and quirky touch. This retro watch also has a microlight on the side that illuminates the screen effortlessly when needed. Apart from telling the time, this retro men’s watch also features an automatic calendar, a daily alarm, a 1/100th-second stopwatch feature, and a 12/24 hour time format.

Above all these, what is great about this Casio vintage watch is that it comes in many chic colorways such as gold and black, blue and silver, and black and silver, to name a few. It can be purchased for just $20 USD.

9. IWC Mark XI

IWC Mark XI watch on the wrist
Photo by Timur Gromov on Flickr
  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 36mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, manual-wind
  • Power reserve 44 hours
  • Water-resistance: 20 feet

For those of you who are craving for a true military watch that can endure all sorts of challenges, the IWC Mark XI is the right piece for you. Launched in 1949, the field watch was made for the members of the British Royal Air Force (RAF).

Like other field watches, the IWC Mark XI has a simple yet impactful design. It features a black time-only dial that serves as a great backdrop to the white Arabic numerals and the silver hands. Luminous symbols are placed at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock markers to provide better legibility in dark conditions.

When it comes to this retro military watch’s build, it has a slim case size of 36mm. The stainless steel case has a polished finish which gives the watch a more professional luster. This IWC watch is also anti-magnetic and water-resistant up to 20 feet. It also has an oversized crown, so that wearers can grip and turn it more easily. Equipped with one of the most accurate three-hand movements ever made the Caliber 89, this retro watch costs around $2,000 USD to $8,000 USD.

10. Zodiac Sea Wolf

Zodiac Sea Wolf watch on the wrist
Photo by verge_escapement on Instagram
  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 35mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, Automatic
  • Water-Resistance: 200 meters

The Zodiac Sea Wolf is often underappreciated, but it is notable for being one of the first few divers to ever grace the market. Considered a true classic, this watch should definitely be on every watch enthusiasts’ radar.

This Zodiac retro watch is enclosed in a well-brushed 35mm stainless steel case and a brass-plated bezel. This is paired with a striking black dial that features broad luminous hands and triangle hour markers at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock.

In addition, this timepiece uses an automatic movement made by ETA and A. Schild. It has a hacking feature and comes with a substantial 200-meter water resistance rating. That said, one downside to this retro watch is that its teeth-edged bezel is quite sensitive to wear and tear, so you should be careful not to knock it around. For that same reason, while this watch only costs around $1,000 USD, it’s pretty hard to get a piece in good condition nowadays.

11. Seiko 6105-8110

Seiko 6105-8110 watch on the wrist
Photo from Tommyzeta on Flickr
  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 44mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, Automatic
  • Power reserve: Approximately 32 hours
  • Water-Resistance: 159 meters

Often called the Seiko Captain Willard by watch fanatics because of its appearance in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, the 6105-8110 is a remarkable vintage piece. This retro watch comes with a sizable 44mm stainless steel cushion case. It also has an extremely legible dial — thanks to its thick, luminous geometric-shaped hour markers and baton hands. Embodying a utilitarian appeal, its black dial perfectly complements the silver case and appliques.

This retro Seiko watch runs on a premium automatic 6105B caliber. It has 17 jewels and beats at a frequency of 26,600 vph. Apart from having a power reserve of 32 hours, the movement also comes with a quick-set date and hacking seconds functions that allow you to set the time accurately. It can also withstand water pressures of up to 150 meters. Paired with a rubber strap with a waffle-like pattern, the price of this watch ranges from between $1,000 USD to a little over $1,500 USD.

12. Omega Seamaster DeVille Chronograph

side view of Omega Seamaster DeVille Chronograph watch
Photo by Davidt on www.omegaforums.net
  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 35mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, Manual-wind
  • Water-resistance: No depth rating available

The Omega Seamaster DeVille Chronograph, also known as the Omega Seamaster 321, is yet another lustrous and desirable retro watch. It was released during the 1960s—the same era in which the iconic Omega Speedmaster started gracing the market. Considered an underrated creation by the brand, this vintage chronograph watch certainly packs a punch.

This retro watch comes in a 35mm stainless steel case and a fine brown leather strap. The muted white dial contains sleek baton indices, elongated sword hands, and three chronograph sub-dials. As its name suggests, this watch is powered by the manual-winding Caliber 321, which is the same mechanism used in early Speedmaster models. If you want to experience the wonders of Omega watches, then the Omega Seamaster DeVille Chronograph is a great option to start with. You can get this vintage piece for around $4,000 USD to $6,000 USD.

13. Bulova Oceanographer Snorkel 666

side view of Bulova Oceanographer Snorkel 666 watch
Photo by Mick McMahon on Flickr
  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 41mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, Automatic
  • Water-Resistance: 203 meters

If you are looking for a trustworthy retro diver that does not stick to the norm, then the Bulova Oceanographer Snorkel 666 is a great option. In terms of design, it has a very cool and straightforward look. The unusual black-and-red unidirectional bezel gives the watch a sporty vibe. The watch comes in a 41mm asymmetrical stainless steel case and a huge crown that goes well with its black rubber strap.

This retro watch’s black dial comes with luminous indices in small circle shapes. This also serves as its main selling point, since the tubes used to illuminate the watch make them almost resemble those precious stones you typically see in watches made by famous jewelers or luxury brand. In addition, this Bulova watch also comes with a large double-digit date display on the right, which is very handy to have.

This vintage piece can withstand water pressures of up to 200 meters. This was pretty much a huge deal during that era since most of its close competitors only had water-resistance capacities of less than 200m. Powered by the Caliber 11 BLACD, this retro watch has a price tag ranging between $500 USD to $700 USD.

14. Gruen Precision Day-Date

front view of Gruen Precision Day-Date watch
  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 34mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, Automatic
  • Water-Resistance: No depth rating available

Stylish, dependable, and precise, the Gruen Precision Day-Date is another retro dress watch you certainly do not want to miss out on. Unlike the previous dress watches we have discussed above, this Gruen piece shows off a date window at 3 o’clock and an elongated day aperture above the 6 o’clock marker. It also comes in a 34mm gold-plated steel case and a luscious brown leather strap. The champagne dial, which has baton indices and luminous dauphine hands, adds a suave flair to this retro watch.

Under the hood of this vintage dress watch is an in-house 512CB movement with 17 jewels. For a price of just $500 USD, you can get this no-frills retro timepiece that prioritizes both form and function.

15. Hamilton Ventura

front view of Hamilton Ventura watch
Photo by txinkman on Flickr
  • Case material: Comes in various materials
  • Case dimension: Comes in various sizes
  • Movement: Comes in various movements
  • Water resistance: Comes in various ratings

Known as the world’s first electric timepiece, the Hamilton Ventura is a must-have for the vintage watch junkies because of the rich history it carries. It was created shortly after World War II, all thanks to industrial designer Richard Arbib’s creativity and thirst for peculiar concepts. The Ventura became even more popular after its appearance in some of Elvis Presley’s blockbuster films. With its boomerang-shaped case and minimalistic dial layout, this cutting-edge retro watch is a total stunner.

The early Hamilton Ventura watches came in a 14K yellow gold or white gold case paired with a silver or black dial respectively. Each piece also boasted an electricity-like pattern at the center of its dial, running under the gold-plated hands of the watch. These retro watches were equipped with Hamilton’s iconic in-house Caliber 500, which was the product of decades worth of exploration and research.

Today, the Hamilton Ventura comes in numerous iterations, but all of them stay loyal to most of the design cues of the original, particularly in terms of case shape. You can get modern pieces with skeleton dials or models that come with ETA-based automatic movements. There are also special editions specially crafted to commemorate Elvis Presley’s legacy. Bearing a price range of $700 USD to $2,000 USD, this is the perfect retro watch for you if you want a splash of quirkiness in your life. 

Final Thoughts

All in all, retro watches have withstood the test of time largely because of their contributions to the growth of the horological realm as well as their timeless aesthetics. Even with all the newfangled innovations in watchmaking today, no one can deny the exclusivity and heritage that retro watches can bring.

Whether you prefer old dive watches with great stories, a robust digital watch, or an elegant dress piece you can wear to any occasion, there are many retro watches out there that will tickle your fancy. Indeed, the list of best retro watches we have collated here really is just the tip of the iceberg. Just make sure you do your research and pick a piece that best fits your needs and budget.

Interested in knowing more about other types of watches you can score and eventually add to your growing collection? Then make sure to check out our articles on the 6 Best Seiko Kinetic Watches and the Top 5 Japanese Dress Watches.

Featured image by affordablewristtime from Instagram

Other photos from official watch websites unless noted otherwise

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