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Neo-vintage watches: the trend you need to know about, according to a Rolex expert

Talking about trends in watchmaking can be a little tricky, as investing in the best watches is completely unique to your personal style. But in the world of luxury watches, a trend that’s re-emerging is neo-vintage watches, a hybrid blend of nostalgic retro design and contemporary craftsmanship.

To understand the neo-vintage watch trend a bit better, I spoke to Rolex expert, Danny Shahid from Diamond Watches London who explained how the big watchmakers like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Cartier, are shaping the neo-vintage wave.


Neo-vintage watches are a combination of modern and vintage aesthetics in one timepiece. Each watch manufacturer has a different take on the trend, but it tends to be a mixture of modern elements, like a new mechanical movement and materials, and vintage features like the colour and look of the dial.

As Shahid explains, “neo-vintage watches, defined as timepieces produced from the early 1990s to the early 2000s, represent a transitional period in watchmaking that followed the Quartz Crisis. This era witnessed the resurgence of mechanical watches and the beginning of the modern luxury watch market as we know it today.”

As vintage watches come with a price and can be hard to get your hands on, “collectors are turning to neo-vintage watches as a more reliable and obtainable alternative, solidifying this category as a mainstay in the world of luxury horology,” says Shahid.

Not only is this rise in neo-vintage watches a celebration of older designs and the manufacturing of the time, but it also gives the second-hand and pre-owned market more stability. This “can be linked to smaller production numbers, the high quality of the manufacturing and the increasingly inaccessible vintage market, due to comparatively higher prices.”

Now, we know what neo-vintage watches are, here are a few of Shahid’s favourite examples from Rolex, Cartier and more.


Rolex has always been and continues to be a popular watch brand, and its vintage and neo-vintage timepieces are no exception. “Neo-vintage Rolex references with five digits, such as the Submariner 16610 LN and the GMT-Master II ref. 16710, have gained a cult following for their historical significance and enduring design,” states Shahid.

Shahid goes on to explain that the allure of Rolex neo-vintage watches is due to them being less ostentatious and ‘in-your-face’ compared to other contemporary models. “Their aluminium bezels, hollow bracelets and tritium dials that have aged to a creamy patina (a hallmark of a neo-vintage watch) blend vintage aesthetics with the benefits of modern movements in their robust engineering.”


Patek Philippe is a watch manufacturer that’s benefited from the neo-vintage trend and many of its discontinued timepieces have experienced a new demand from collectors who want something a little different.

Patek Philippe watches have become a symbol of neo-vintage luxury with their refined design, impeccable craftsmanship and mechanical complexity. As Shahid states, “While Patek’s sports watches are the standout performers, the neo-vintage trend has bolstered demand for their complicated pieces, such as the Annual Calendar ref. 5035, Chronograph ref. 5070, and even small dress watches like the Calatrava ref. 3923,” Shahid says.


Shahid has seen that Vacheron Constantin has seen a drop in its popularity in recent years, but several of its older models are beginning to develop defined markets, thanks to the neo-vintage trend. For example, “those that have recently experienced rising demand and bold pricing include the first generation of Overseas, the 222, various chronograph models such as the ref. 49003 and ref. 47101, complicated models like the perpetual calendar ref. 43031 and even the obscure Mercator ref. 43050.


Finally, Cartier neo-vintage watches are highly sought-after and with the brand’s blend of tradition and unique design, it’s no surprise that Cartier is one of the hottest brands on the market right now. In particular, the most popular neo-vintage watches from Cartier include “Tanks, Santos’, Crashes, the entire CPCP collection and more, that are all experiencing sustained demand.”

Danny Shahid is a luxury watch expert at Diamond Watches London (DWL). DWL has more than 16 years of experience in sourcing rare and big name watches, and the flagship shop is located in Mayfair’s exclusive Burlington Arcade.

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