George's Top 5 Vintage Watches under £2,000 in 2023

George's Top 5 Vintage Watches under £2,000 in 2023

George Redgrave


WatchGecko Top Choice Series

When talking watches and watch collecting, it’s safe to say almost all have considered, if not purchased, a vintage watch for their collection. The vintage watch market draws many in due to multiple factors such as heritage, history, rarity, sentiment, and just the true charm of the model from a time gone by. However, the vintage watch market does not come without its drawbacks. Vintage watches can be costly, and the market can be hard to navigate, so here are some suggestions in our Top 5 series under £2000.

So how are we defining a vintage watch?

How long is a piece of string? Vintage is often defined by your age so to keep a broad area of interest, I am beginning vintage in the 1980s and going right back to World War 2. Of course, there are much older watches available and you could even define some 1990s models as vintage but the selected parameters seem reasonable.

George’s Top Five Vintage Watches

No5 – Vintage Timex Mercury

Vintage Timex MercuryVintage Timex Mercury - Credit WatchGecko

First up is the Timex Mercury, this stunning little watch was produced throughout the 1960s. This line of watches was hand wound and recognisable by the “SHOCKPROOF” text situated above the six on the dial. The Mercury features a 32mm case with a date function at three o’clock. At the time, Timex boasted some impressive advances in design, the movement featured a V-Conic Escapement, which Timex made known to its audience; “The V-Conic is the greatest advance in over 200 years of watchmaking. A unique cone-shaped balance staff turns on enduring Armalloy bearings. V-Conic is strong where conventional watches are generally weakest”.

Vintage Timex MercuryVintage Timex Mercury - Credit WatchGecko

It is also known that Timex’s were primarily made in the USA. However, a small number were manufactured in the UK after the brand set up shop in Dundee in the 1960s to provide watches for the European market. This resulted in a limited number of watches made with ‘GREAT BRITAIN’ on the dial. To be honest, writing this makes me want to start the hunt for one and I have seen these previously selling for around £50. The Timex Mercury is a great addition to any collection, it allows the collector to check the box for classic and nostalgic vintage at an affordable price.

No4 – Tag Heuer 1000 Series

Tag Heuer 1000 Series WristshotTag Heuer 1000 Series - Credit WatchGecko

The 1000 series is a Heuer/TAG Heuer quartz dive watch that was first released in the late 1970’s and served when the quartz crisis struck the Swiss mechanical watch industry. Heuer experimented with dive watches in the late 1970’s and the reference that solidified its place was the 844. In 1984 the collection was officially named the 1000 series.

Tag Heuer 1000 SeriesTag Heuer 1000 Series - Credit WatchGecko

This watch first and foremost, is just a great looking dive watch! This series of watches is a real tool watch that can take a beating and still look good! The steel black dial variant of this TAG bears more than a passing resemblance to the iconic Rolex Submariner; another reason this watch was very popular at the time of its production. I hate to say it but I can’t help but think this really was when TAG Heuer was at its best.

No3 – The Dirty Dozen British Military watches Buren, Cyma, Omega, Timor and Vertex

Omega Vintage Dirty Dozen

Omega Vintage Dirty Dozen Wrist Shot - Credit WatchGecko

As you can see I have mentioned several watches for the number three spot. Although these watches vary in brand, they belong to the same family of watches. These watches are part of the Dirty Dozen and I have included the above brands as these are currently on the market for under £2000.

If you are not familiar with the Dirty Dozen, they are twelve watches that the British Ministry of Defence commissioned in WW2. The War Office needed these watches to meet a certain standard and only wanted companies who could achieve this standard to produce the watches.

Omega Vintage Dirty DozenOmega Vintage Dirty Dozen - Credit WatchGecko

The Dirty Dozen are: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex. If you like military-style wristwatches that carry unique DNA plus the timeless style of a black dial, Arabic numerals, railroad minute track, and small seconds sub dial at six, then a Dirty Dozen may be the one for you. However, it’s not all positive for the Dirty Dozen. Due to the collectability of these watches, they can be challenging to find and even harder to find in good condition. Just remember the majority of these watches have served and come beaten as standard.

No2 – Seiko 6105 – 8110 aka Captain Willard

Seiko 6105 – 8110 aka Captain WillardSeiko 6105 – 8110 aka Captain Willard - Credit WatchGecko

Anyone who has spent time going down the Seiko dive watch rabbit hole will recognise this one; the Seiko 6105-8110, known to Seiko fans as The Captain Willard. First some history on a name. The 6105-8110 was worn by Martin Sheen’s character Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now, hence its name the “Willard”. 

However, the Willard is not just held in high regard because of a film. It was Seiko’s second dive watch after the release of the 62MAS in 1965. The Willard was the choice of watch for U.S. servicemen in the 1970’s during the Vietnam War as this true dive watch was a rugged tool that could be tested.

Seiko 6105 – 8110 aka Captain WillardSeiko 6105 – 8110 aka Captain Willard - Credit WatchGecko

The Willard was very much first of its kind during this era, featuring a large cushion case with a diameter of 44mm. You might think this watch is a no-go for a smaller wrist, but you’d be wrong. On the latest version of the Willard, which looks old but is part of the Prospex Series, Seiko has managed to keep the lug to lug compact at 47mm to cater for all. The Willard features a 4 O’clock crown position, and unlike most watches of this age, even the oldest boasts 150m of water resistance. A great vintage watch with modern capabilities and a cool movie connection. Equally, if you want a new watch with the purest vintage feel, this is one model where you can achieve that result.

No1 – Omega Seamaster 1948 – 1960’s

Omega Seamaster 1948 – 1960’sOmega Seamaster 1948 – 1960’s - Credit WatchGecko

The Omega Seamaster has many references in its vintage catalogue. To be more specific,  we are talking about references produced from the Seamaster’s inception in 1948 into the 1960’s.

Omega has been producing the Seamaster since 1948 and the range is the longest running product line in Omega history. The style was based upon designs made for the British Royal Navy nearing the end of World War II. Vintage Omega represents two things for me, the first being a great entry into the luxury brands and the fact that vintage Omega have superior build quality. The references in this category are that of a smaller case size, 34mm and do not carry a dive bezel. The prices can vary depending on several factors such as condition, box and papers, the rarity of the reference and of course, originality of components such as hands, dial etc.

Omega Seamaster 1948 – 1960’sOmega Seamaster 1948 – 1960’s - Credit WatchGecko

I cannot understate the build quality of vintage Omegas. In its vintage era, it surpassed Rolex. I would not however describe the vintage Omega Seamaster I am talking about as a sports watch and I definitely would not go in water with it. The Seamaster from this time is more suited to daily wear far away from the wet stuff! It also looks great as a dress watch and can undoubtedly slip under a cuff during the dressier times of life.

That concludes our seventh feature of Top 5 Series, do you agree with our opinions or would you have chosen a different model for your number one spot?

Let us know in the comments below!

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George Redgrave

About the Author: George Redgrave

About the Author: George Redgrave

I have been interested in watches since I was a teenager. There is something so simple about telling the time and these little machines make it so much fun. It is exciting to know I am just getting started on my journey.

More Articles by George Redgrave