The Top Five Affordable Vintage Watches

Top 5 Affordable Vintage Watches

Watches are often one of the few things that get better with age. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend a small fortune to buy a vintage watch that will last.

It’s a competitive market out there and many vintage watches sell for thousands of pounds and much more. However, there are still many high-quality vintage watches you may be lucky enough to nab for under £2,000, including iconic models from Omega, Longines, and Zenith. 

If you’re buying your first vintage watch, we’d recommend you keep it simple by choosing a ‘time only’ waterproof automatic. The 1950s – 1970s  was a sweet spot for these, and is often referred to as the golden age of watchmaking. Just be warned – the thrill that comes with purchasing your first vintage watch can be addictive.

The Top 5 Vintage Watches Under £2,000

If you’re looking to buy a vintage timepiece, here are the top 5 affordable vintage watches under £2,000 for your consideration. 

1. 1960s Omega Constellation Automatic

Omega Constellation Date 1966 18ct Pink Gold
Omega Constellation Date 1966 18ct Pink Gold

First released in 1952 as Omega’s range-topping sports dress watch, the Constellation became Omega’s answer to the Rolex Datejust. A well-proportioned, simple and classic design, the Constellation consistently featured Omega’s latest state-of-the-art automatic movement, along with a waterproof case and usually a date function.

The Constellation’s name and association with the stars stems from the fact that for hundreds of years, the most accurate way of checking the time was astronomically with the aid of a powerful telescope. The relief on the case back shows eight stars above an observatory, which symbolises two chronometer records and six first-place awards that Omega earned between 1933 and 1952. 

Due to its exceptional craftsmanship and outstanding accuracy, the Constellation swiftly gained the moniker “The Swiss Watch” and commanded a substantial premium over the Rolex Datejust. Omega Constellations were produced at various price points, with cases made in steel, and also in gold. 

As this was Omega’s most prestigious watch, certain design elements were introduced to make the Constellation stand out from the other Omega models of the time. At the very top of the range, these included lavish gold bracelets, dials made of gold with gold hour markers, hands and gold-applied logos.

Steel examples of this classic dress watch can be obtained for around £1,500 – £2,000 for an example in good condition from a reputable dealer providing a solid warranty and support. Expect to pay around double for watches made in gold.

Omega Constellation Gold 18ct 1952
Omega Constellation Gold 18ct 1952

2. 1960s Longines Flagship Automatic

Longines Flagship Automatic

If you’re looking for an honest example of a Longines dress watch, the Flagship could well be a great place to start. This elegant model launched around 65 years ago and it became so successful, even today it continues to be part of Longines current range. 

The Flagship is Longines’ perennially popular waterproof and (generally) automatic sports dress watch available in steel or gold. The Flagship range has continuously evolved in much the same way as the Rolex Oyster and Omega Seamaster. It has, therefore always been a substantial, solid watch combining elegance and robust build quality.

The Flagship is a 30-metre water-resistant watch, featuring a date window that has very good friction and scratch-resistant properties, due to its sapphire crystal finish glass coating on the case window. 

Superb movements, waterproof cases and timeless design are some of the attributes of this classic piece. Prices for a Flagship Automatic in good condition are around £1,000 – £1,500 with a case made in steel, and around double for one in gold.

Longines Flagship on Bracelet 1961 9ct Gold
Longines Flagship on Bracelet 1961 9ct Gold

3. 1960s Omega Seamaster Automatic

Omega Seamaster 1958 14ct 14k Gold
Omega Seamaster 1958 14ct 14k Gold

The Seamaster has been a cornerstone of the Omega brand for over 75 years. Introduced in 1948 to commemorate Omega’s centenary and inspired by designs created for the British Royal Navy during World War II, this watch has consistently embodied strength, reliability, and precision. 

The Seamaster was distinguished from its predecessors with its introduction of the O-ring gasket to the commercial market. This improved its waterproof functionality to depths of up to 60 metres and temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius.

Picking one Omega Seamaster model from the 1960s is tough as there are a lot of great models to choose from. The 1960s represent a decade of great change in design from classic and refined to more extravagant designs but each and every Seamaster comes with a very high-quality movement and watch case.

There are many vintage Seamaster watches to choose from at various price points. They were produced in various case sizes, mostly in steel, although a variety in gold are available. All are good long-term investments as the Seamaster continues to hold celebrity status in the watch market. Prices range from around £1,200 – £2,500 for one with a case made in steel, and around double for one in gold.

4. 1960s Zenith Defy Automatic

For the greater part of the 60s, Zenith released classically styled dress watches and chronographs. Then, during the second part of the 1960s, Zenith design became exceedingly interesting.

A great example of their remarkable designs is the first-generation Zenith Defy which was introduced in 1969. The angular form and thick markers make it a great example of mid-20th-century design. All models are powered by superb Zenith movements which generally feature a date window placed between 4 and 5 o’clock. 

You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised how affordable such models still are, but the condition of the watch is absolutely key. Regrettably, as time passed, many cases were handled by overly eager watchmakers who frequently compromised the distinctive shape. And there are also quite a few with non-original dials. 

That’s why it’s important to take time and find a model that is in its original condition. Prices for a Defy start at roughly £1,200 and move up to approximately £2,000 for one in great condition. Although you can, of course, pay more for some examples. Incidentally, you can’t really go wrong with any Zenith model from the 1950s or 1960s, as they all have superb movements and offer tremendous value for money.

5. 1960s Hand-Wound Girard-Perregaux

Girard Perraegaux 18ct Gold
Girard Perraegaux 18ct Gold

Girard-Perregaux is a master of capturing the essence of a particular period while having a special ability to push the needle further in terms of accuracy and innovation. Some of the most technically sophisticated watches ever made, such as the Minute Repeaters, Tourbillons, and the refined Grande Complication models, define this period. From the 1960s the Cal. 1525 or 792-227 hold a particular interest in the £2,000 or less category.

The Cal. 1525 is a beautiful Girard-Perregaux dress watch containing some of the best of its technical and design mastery. One of the few gold watches worth buying in this price range. It features a stunning ‘state of the art’ (for its time) movement, and an all-gold dial and case back. 

The increased profile of the brand in recent years has helped vintage Girard-Perregaux watches become more appealing to collectors. The rarity of great examples means values are beginning to climb. 

This watch will make an excellent investment, and you should expect to pay in the region of £1,200 – £1,500 for a really nice example made with a steel case, and around double for one made in gold.

The Last Word

The prices stipulated are what you can expect to pay when dealing with a reputable dealer offering a fully comprehensive 12-month warranty, 14-day sale or return, a 100% authenticity guarantee, and great after-sales service, just as you can expect from Vintage Gold Watches.

At Vintage Gold Watches, we’re committed to excellence and helping people find the perfect vintage watch that reflects their style and personality. If you’re looking for an original, high-quality vintage timepiece for less than £2,000, browse our vintage watch collection here.

You can also learn about the world of vintage watches by signing up for our regular newsletter.

Alan Wood, founder of Vintage Gold Watches, is a trusted vintage watch dealer with over 35 years of private collecting experience. His deep knowledge and infectious passion for mechanical timepieces have earned him a highly respected reputation in the industry. Vintage Gold Watches, established in 2011, has become a reputable dealer thanks to Alan’s expertise and a skilled team of restorers. Alan’s love for vintage watches started as a young Mechanical Engineer and grew into an obsession. He believes the finest watches were made in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and he is thrilled to share them with others.