The Price Proposition: 5 Important Undervalued Timepiece’s Of The ’80s

As any individual who each grew up throughout the eighties and fell in love with watches back then, I used to be excited to look the ’80s Week theme seem on HODINKEE. It jogged my memory of an electronic mail I won from Ben Clymer back in 2019, the place he requested some buddies for our ideas on watches we believed must be value greater than they’re. As I assumed via my resolution, a number of items offered within the eighties got here to thoughts, and a theme surrounding this decade I am nostalgic for emerged.

As brands have been popping out of the darkness of the Operated by battery Disaster, some crucial and leading edge watches got here to marketplace that, when bearing in mind their present marketplace costs, be offering nice worth for creditors these days.

Make no mistake – with the onslaught of cheap, very correct battery operated watches operated by means of batteries, Swiss brands struggled to continue to exist, and numerous brands could not. However something I have realized from functioning with my Swiss colleagues through the years is that the Swiss are fiercely aggressive, score because the 3rd best country in 2020’s Global Competitiveness Score (following Denmark and Singapore). Below such force got here wonderful creativity within the subject of mechanical watches.

Right here, then, are the “undervalued” eighties favorites I shared with Ben. I am glad to proportion them with you all these days.

Patek Philippe Ref. 3940 and Ref. 3970

Patek Philippe has regularly produced perpetual calendar and perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatches since 1941. No different brand would produce a serially produced perpetual calendar wristwatch till 1955, when Audemars Piguet offered the groundbreaking ref. 5516 (the primary perpetual calendar wristwatch to suggest the bissextile year), and it would not be till 1985 when any other brand would produce a perpetual calendar chronograph in sequence – IWC with the Da Vinci Chronograph.

Ref. 3940


Each the reference 3940 and 3970 ushered in all-new movements. Presented in 1985, the 3940 stood out for its ultra-thin caliber 240 base movement with micro-rotor – the world’s thinnest automatic movement when it was once offered at simply 2.4 mm thick. A significant aesthetic departure from Patek Philippe’s prior perpetual calendar fashions, which used apertures at 12 o’clock for the day and month signs – references 1526, 3448, and 3450 – 3 sub-dials indicated the day, month, date, and moon-phase, at the side of 24-hour and leap-year indications.


With a fantastically proportioned 36mm case that includes a concave bezel, the fashion developed subtly till it was once discontinued in 2007 with manufacturing numbers within the a number of hundreds. As of late, students agree that, just like the implausible Quantième Perpetuel introduced by means of Audemars Piguet in 1978, the reference 3940 was once a key fashion for Patek Philippe that helped make certain its good fortune in the course of the eighties and nineteen nineties. It is value citing that AP’s Quantième Perpetuel was once the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar wristwatch when offered. Patek Philippe would take that title back with the 3940 – see how aggressive the Swiss are?

First sequence examples of the 3940 with flat, sunken subsidiary dials, uncommon champagne dial variants, and early platinum examples with smooth, lacquered dials are particularly attention-grabbing – and nonetheless are priced slightly moderately at the secondary marketplace.

Ref. 3970


The primary-ever Patek Philippe reference 3970 auctioned at Antiquorum in 2015. (Picture: courtesy of Antiquorum)

Presented in 1986, the ref. 3970 perpetual calendar chronograph used a just about an identical aesthetic structure of its iconic predecessors – the references 1518 and 2499. It used an all-new base movement, the caliber CH 27-70Q, which derived from the Lemania caliber 2310 – the similar base movement powering early Omega Speedmasters. This was once the primary non-Valjoux movement Patek had ever utilized in a chronograph. The 3970 was once sized at 36mm – a little bit smaller than its direct predecessor, the ref. 2499 fourth sequence, which measured 37.5mm. Apparently, the 3970’s case is bigger than that of the respected 1518 (35mm) and the similar dimension because the extraordinarily uncommon and sought-after early ref. 2499s, with Vichet instances that still measure 36mm.

Just like the 3940, the 3970 would upload 24-hour and leap-year indications with in the 9 and three o’clock sub-dials for stepped forward capability and practicality. The reference developed over 3 sequence till it was once discontinued in 2004. First-series examples with their snapback instances and feuille (leaf-shaped) hands, at the side of 2d sequence examples with feuille hands and screw-down casebacks, are particularly sexy and uncommon.

Their very good high quality, vintage aesthetics, historic significance within the evolution of 2 of the brand’s maximum vital fashions, and their relative affordability at the secondary marketplace lead them to interesting on such a lot of ranges.

Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 And GMT-Grasp Ref. 16750 With Shiny Dials


The Rolex product line noticed many attention-grabbing traits within the eighties. The Cosmograph Daytona went from the brand’s worst vendor to its maximum sought-after time-piece due to the creation in their first self-winding chronograph movement with the release of the references 16520, 16523, and 16528 in 1988. Fast-set date capability made fashions just like the Day-Date way more user-friendly, and the common incorporation of glass crystals around the brand’s fashions kissed the antique, acrylic-crystal generation good-bye.


Round 1984, simply previous to the creation of glass crystals of their bread-and-butter entry-level sports fashions – the ref. 5513 “no-date” Submariner and the ref. 16750 GMT-Grasp – Rolex offered a very powerful dial replace that has lasted to the current day. After 18 years, Rolex switched from the semigloss dials used since 1967 to colourful smooth, lacquered dials with white gold, luminous hour markers. Those nonetheless antique, acrylic-crystal fashions have been each discontinued and changed with glass sapphire variations: The ref. 16700 GMT-Grasp introduced in 1988 changed the 16750, and the ref. 14060 Submariner (now waterresistant to at least one,000 feet/330 m) changed the 5513 in 1990.

The glossy-dial variations of those acrylic-crystal references are due to this fact slightly uncommon, having been produced for simply six years for the 5513 and only 4 years for the 16750. They mix the most efficient of 2 worlds – antique and modern – and are nonetheless slightly reasonably priced as the information surrounding those uncommon variants isn’t standard.

IWC Da Vinci Chronograph


Who would have imagined that IWC will be the 2d brand to introduce a serially produced perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch, following Patek Philippe’s creation of the fashion in 1941? 40-four years would move till IWC introduced its leading edge and remarkable Da Vinci Chronograph ref. IW3750 in 1985.

Impressed by means of Günter Blümlein, IWC’s CEO on the time, watchmaker Kurt Klaus evolved the perpetual calendar module the use of simply 82 elements. All changes for the perpetual calendar may well be made by means of the crown – a world’s first within the business. The dial featured a four-digit yr show with century slide that may advance as soon as each and every 100 years. The watch was once advertised with packaging containing a century slide for the 22, 23, and 24 centuries – genius.

The next yr, in 1986, the Da Vinci Chronograph changed into the primary wristwatch ever to make use of a ceramic case (zirconium oxide ceramic) because the ref. 3755. Those eighties watches stay a cut price and must, in my humble opinion, be value slightly a little bit greater than their secondary-market costs.

A collector for greater than 3 a long time, Paul Boutros is now the Head of Timepiece’s, Americas for the Phillips public sale area. In October of 2017, he led the public sale that introduced in $17.8 million bucks for Paul Newman’s Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona, the easiest value ever paid for a antique wristwatch offered at public sale.

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