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3 Great Vintage Watches To Start Building Your Collection With

August 21, 2018

BY Paul Altieri


Starting a vintage Rolex collection can be daunting. When you start off, you have your eyes set on the awesome, big money pieces you hope to own one day. You dream of digging one up at a house sale and getting it for a steal or just investing big in something like a Paul Newman Daytona.

But the fun part of watch collecting, particularly vintage watch collecting, is investing in pieces you love, you can wear, and that are going to hold their value (and if you’re lucky, increase in price). Here, we’ve carefully chosen a few vintages from the Bob’s vault that are great starter pieces. Not only are they under the $10,000 mark, they’re in great condition and are classics that have universal appeal.

1803 President

1803 President with Black Pie Pan Dial


Vintage Rolex President 1803

This Vintage Rolex President 1803 is the perfect starting place for any beginner. Also known as a DayDate, this classic dress watch should be a staple in any collection, anyways. But, what we love about this 1803 is that ‘pie pan’ dial. The unique face is what makes this watch a great piece to have in your collection, as it’s a staple model with an iconic twist that’s sure to add value to your watch box.

What we also love about this watch is the 36mm yellow gold casing and serrated bezel which just pops against that darker face. And we have to say, the combination really makes this watch look like it’s from the 1970’s when it was produced, doesn’t it? It’s got that inherently retro feel, and we adore the brown leather band that’s been strapped onto the lugs. Being a President, this watch is also outfitted with an automatic movement, it features the day and date (of course) and even comes with a waterproof screw down crown.

rolex 1503 dial

The vintage Rolex 1503 Date

Rolex Date 1503

A classic watch that clocks in well under $10-thousand, this yellow gold vintage Rolex Date from the mid 1970’s is another great starting point for collectors. Plus, the versatile 34mm size wears wonderfully on the wrist and gives it universal appeal in case you decide to sell it and upgrade down the line.

The watch is outfitted in all 14k yellow gold — from the case to the fluted bezel to the detailed Jubilee bracelet and secure Fliplock clasp. We love how this model was also outfitted with a champagne dial, as it really adds to the indulgent look this otherwise classic watch is going for. We can’t fail to mention the Automatic 1570 movement inside that swings those luminous hands and flips rotates the date at 3-o’clock. Finally, what’s so great about this watch is that you’re going to want to wear and enjoy it all the time — and the waterproof, wearable Date allows you to do just that.

The vintage Rolex two-tone GMT-Master 16753

The vintage Rolex two-tone GMT-Master 16753

Rolex GMT-Master 16753

You don’t have to start off your collection with a timeless classic. You can easily invest in an innovative timepiece, too. What we love about this GMT-Master 16753 is that this watch is just as cool and functional today as it was back in the late 1970’s early 1980’s when it was produced. Outfitted with an automatic movement that was built for pilots in conjunction with Pan American Company, this watch can keep two time zones and military time. The oyster case also means that it can withstand high elevation and deep waters.

The look of this watch is also just killer. We love the two-toned case and bracelet paring 14k yellow gold and stainless steel. The black bidirectional bezel also matches the black face, and those luminous Tritium hour markers are just as visible in the cockpit as they are by curious onlookers. With a look and feel like this, this 16753 will quickly become a watch you bought for the collection but wear (and enjoy) daily — as you should.

Ready to spend a little more? Go for the Rolex Submariner 5513


A vintage Rolex Submariner 5513 is one of the most important dive watches ever made

A vintage Rolex Submariner 5513 is one of the most important dive watches ever made

If you want to start off with a watch that has some real provenance, we suggest this genuine vintage Rolex Submariner 5513. A watch like this will cost you a little bit more, but it’s a great investment piece because of its early dial.

The 5513 was produced from 1966 through the 1980’s, the earliest dials outfitted with meter markings first. It wasn’t until 1970 that they began writing feet first, like this one, indicating just how early and special this watch is. Besides that, the case and dial are in excellent condition, as are the marker and matching cream hands which have aged beautifully over the years. It’s also important to note the fat front bezel which has faded to this wonderful gray and could one day fade totally into the ghost — which would surely bump up the value for you down the line.



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