Vintage Watch Brands for under $500? What's on Your List?

So I recently watched the video from Omega Enthusiast "Top 5 Quality Vintage Watch Brands Under $500"

https://youtu.be/rcmPfhr5FQI

It got me to thinking...what are some of the watch brands that I would recommend to vintage enthusiasts on a limited budget.

His video goes through the following brands: Mido, Tissot, Eterna, Zenith and Gruen. All very good choices.

But I wanted to expand that vision to cover more brands that may be less well known than the above.

I'm also interested in which brands you collect if you are interested in vintage watches and are staying under the $500 per watch budget.

Now I am particular about condition...yes I am the guy who wouldn't let you sit on my bed or touch my LPs. So condition is very important to me. However, there are many who love the lived in looks of vintage watches that have seen some real use or have gained some unique look through patina or ageing. So feel free to go anywhere with this topic you wish to go.

@Aurelian and @chronotriggered will likely weigh in, but I know there are more of you out there who are fascinated by vintage watches - let us hear your voices.

Here are some that I have acquired over the last several years for under $500...you can decide whether you think they are worthwhile additions, or like my wife, you can say "why do you keep buying those old watches that all look the same".

I'm going to start at the "Z"'s and head back towards the "A"'s...

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Zodiac Corsair (1960s) - $195

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Yema Meangraf Sous-Marine (1960s) - $350

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Yema Rallygraf (1970s) - $400

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Wittnauer 2000 Perpetual Calendar (1970s) - $325

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Westclox Heagon (1970s) - $130 NOS

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Verdal Chronograph (1950s) - $310

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Thermidor Double Calendar (1970s) - $385 NOS

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Thermidor Dress Watch (1970s) - $220 NOS

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Thermidor Chronograph (1970s) - $485

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Pryngeps Cronografoi (1990s) - $435

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Pryngeps Top Timonier Tri-Compax Chronograph (1980s) - $350

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Pryngeps Tri-Compax Chronograph (1980s) - $400

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Precimax Rally Chronograph (1970s) - $405 NOS

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Orfina Chronograph (1950s) - $330

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Orfina De Luxe (1957) - $230

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Olma Racing Chronograph (1970s) - $510 NOS

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Norexa Chronograph (1960s) - $370

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Miramar (1970s) - $365 NOS

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Mido Commander (1970s) - $355

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Lanco Officers Watch (1950s) - $245

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Lanco Super De Luxe Olimpic (1960s) - $199

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Lanco Chronograph (1970s) - $570

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Helvetia (Omega) Allround Dress Watch (1960s) - $135

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Glashutte GUB Spezimatic (1970s) - $300

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Glashutte GUB Spezimatic (1960s) - $416

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Glashutte GUB Spezimatic (1970s) - $345

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Festina Sport Watch (1970) - $480 NOS

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Festina Tank TV (1970s) - $75

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Festina Caribbean 100 (1969) - $257

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Festina UFO (1970s) - $450 NOS

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Duke Chronograph (1970s) - $375

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Dugena Racing Chronograph (1970s) - $500

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Dugena Tropica (1970s) - $75

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Dugena Festa (1940s) - $125

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Croton Chronograph (1970s) - $422

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Caravelle (Bulova) UFO Dyanmic Rally (1970) - $380

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Avia Chronograph (1970s) - $475

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Avia Chronograph (1950s) - $399

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Alpina Sea Strong (1970s) - $155

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Some lovely peices you've got,and at reasonable prices. Great collection 

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Stricko

Some lovely peices you've got,and at reasonable prices. Great collection 

Many thanks! You have to look at a lot of dogs to find the good ones.

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Damn it. You paid less for your blue AVIA Chronograph than me and still in a better condition. But I got my Certina DS2 for $350.

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  • Smiths - go for Smiths De Luxe, Smiths Astral, “Made in England“ on the dial, 15 jewels plus. Avoid “Made in Great Britain”, “Britain”, “Swiss” ones such as Smiths Empire, and some Smiths, they are either low jewelled movements, pin-pallet, low quality ébauches, or end-of-life models that just don’t have the quality that the calibres that were made in Cheltenham have.
  • Cyma / Tavannes
  • Vertex
  • Rotary up to the 1970s, avoid the quartz and beyond, the earlier ones are special.
  • Roamer pre 1970
  • a slight contradiction, but you can luck out with Enicar if you are careful when not considering the Sherpa or other complications. Avoid Ocean Pearls as well, too many franken. A decent 1940s 17J Incabloc Waterproof can actually be found for very little money, dresses up lovely.
  • Gruen - love me a Gruen but not common this side of the Atlantic. You can get some nice pieces for very little.
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WatchYourIntruder

Damn it. You paid less for your blue AVIA Chronograph than me and still in a better condition. But I got my Certina DS2 for $350.

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That is a beauty! Congrats!

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I wanted a wristwatch from every decade, so I went for a 1928 Hamilton Barrel watch, 1938 Hamilton Reagan, 1946 Bulova President, 1955 Hamilton Brent, and a 1965 Bulova Spaceveiw Accutron. All were purchased (off eBay) for $200-$300, and all were recently serviced 👍

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This was my first NOS vintage watch I purchased. It was still in the box with tags. So 120.00 and then 250.00 to have it gone through top to bottom. It was worth it, as I just loved the sunburst dial. It's hard to capture just how cool it is. 

But at the same time it was a lesson in cost and finding a quality watchmaker

Now knowing I have someone I can take new finds to and trusting them is everything when it comes to Vintage watches.

So I'm on the hunt but being very picky on condition. Basically everything you just showed caters to my taste... As usual🙄

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Hoots1
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I wanted a wristwatch from every decade, so I went for a 1928 Hamilton Barrel watch, 1938 Hamilton Reagan, 1946 Bulova President, 1955 Hamilton Brent, and a 1965 Bulova Spaceveiw Accutron. All were purchased (off eBay) for $200-$300, and all were recently serviced 👍

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Great selection of watches.

Love that 1955 Hamilton Brent! Awesome mid-century modern design and looks like fantastic condition. Congrats.

Always a big fan of the Accutron.

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ChronoGuy

Great selection of watches.

Love that 1955 Hamilton Brent! Awesome mid-century modern design and looks like fantastic condition. Congrats.

Always a big fan of the Accutron.

Thanks! The Brent is my favorite of the bunch too!

You have a great vintage eye, as your collection is fun and in great taste!! - some of the coolest pieces I’ve seen!👌

Great topic — thanks for sharing!

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whitesalmon

This was my first NOS vintage watch I purchased. It was still in the box with tags. So 120.00 and then 250.00 to have it gone through top to bottom. It was worth it, as I just loved the sunburst dial. It's hard to capture just how cool it is. 

But at the same time it was a lesson in cost and finding a quality watchmaker

Now knowing I have someone I can take new finds to and trusting them is everything when it comes to Vintage watches.

So I'm on the hunt but being very picky on condition. Basically everything you just showed caters to my taste... As usual🙄

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Great acquisition! Such a fantastic looking watch!

Thanks for sharing that shot - that dial is awesome!

Love the strap as well.

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Holy crap. I thought I was going to wear out the mouse wheel scrolling through that list 😀

That's a pretty amazing collection you have there.

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tempus

Holy crap. I thought I was going to wear out the mouse wheel scrolling through that list 😀

That's a pretty amazing collection you have there.

Thanks! Glad it was enjoyable to view.

I tried to make it an interesting list rather than just dumping out the kitchen sink.

Which was your favorite?

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Beautiful pieces. 

I really don't have much to add. If you want to dive into vintage in the low risk/low reward type of way, you really can't go wrong with pre-1968 Elgin. There are so many that you can buy three and two can be duds and still be well under $500 (including a service). I am also of the belief that a collection of pre-Citizen Bulova, and nothing but Bulova, is a fine collection.

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ChronoGuy

Thanks! Glad it was enjoyable to view.

I tried to make it an interesting list rather than just dumping out the kitchen sink.

Which was your favorite?

I don't think I could pinpoint a favorite, but if pressed, it would probably be the Orfina chronograph. Many of the case designs remind me of watches featured in the book "Retro Watches", and as much as I like those quirky designs, that Orfina chrono is timeless.

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