Modern Vintage Watches: A Look into Baselworld 2017

With Baselworld 2017 wrapping up at the end of March, the watch world is abuzz with news of brand new models of timeless classics launching this year from beloved brands like Omega, Rolex, TAG Heuer, and more.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the release of the first models of the Omega Speedmaster, Seamaster 300, and Railmaster.  To commemorate this milestone, Omega is releasing three new limited edition versions of these “Class of ’57” watches.  These anniversary editions closely replicate the original 1957 models; the watches capture the retro appearance of the original models, but have been upgraded with brushed stainless steel bracelets, new Master Chronometer movements, and a modern chronograph on the Speedmaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition 38.6mm model.

New “Class of ‘57” Trilogy: Omega Seamaster 300, Railmaster, and Speedmaster

Rolex is also celebrating an important milestone this year, commemorating the 50th anniversary of their original Rolex Sea-Dweller Diver’s Watch.   In 1967 Rolex patented the helium escape valve feature that regulated air pressure and increased water resistance for deep sea divers in an unprecedented way.  The new Rolex Sea-Dweller has been updated with modern technological advances while still maintaining the classic aesthetics of the original model released 50 years ago.  The new Sea-Dweller has a slightly larger case – 3mm wider than the original model – and includes a cyclops lens over the date window (the first Sea-Dweller model with this feature) – for enhanced clarity and legibility.  The stainless steel bracelet is made of a corrosion-resistant superalloy, patented by Rolex and designed for stronger durability.


Original 1967 Rolex Sea-Dweller and 2017 Sea-Dweller

TAG Heuer is also among the several brands to release a modernized version of a timeless classic in 2017.  The very first timepiece released by TAG Heuer (then just known as Heuer) was the Autavia, which was used for racing cars and aircraft as a dashboard counter.  The Autavia, aptly named as a combination of the words “automobile” and “aviation,” was later released in 1962 in the form of a chronograph wristwatch, and quickly became a favorite among race-car drivers and enthusiasts.

Original 1962 Autavia

Last year, TAG Heuer conducted a poll online to determine which Autavia model would be reissued in 2017, and the winner was a 1966 model called “Rindt,” named after the famous racer who wore the original model during his career.  The new Autavia model is aesthetically similar to the original 1966 model with a slightly larger stainless steel case (now 42mm rather than the original 39mm), a black aluminum notched bezel, and vintage-style mushroom chronograph pushers surrounding a ridged crown.  The logo simply reads “Heuer,” like the original model, but does include upgraded features such as the addition of the date feature and a sapphire case back window showing the updated movement.  The new Autavia comes in two forms – one on a “beads of rice”-style stainless steel bracelet and one on a distressed brown leather strap – both nods to the classic vintage 1960s timepieces.


2017 TAG Heuer Autavia on bracelet and strap

(All images source: