Pre-Owned Spotlight: Thomas Shops For Lightweight Neo-Vintage Watches
In today’s edition of Pre-Owned Spotlight, we’re going lightweight neo-vintage! Nacho likes to set increasingly specific challenges for us, and I think this might be my most particular one yet. But hey, I like a challenge. And, as a matter of fact, I immediately had a couple of serious contenders in mind.
I will limit myself to models introduced in the 1990s and 2000s and, obviously, to lightweight materials. Without further ado, let’s go on the hunt for some pre-owned picks.
Lightweight neo-vintage pick #1: Panerai Luminor Base PAM00176
Let me kick this off with a classic from Panerai. Wait, what? Isn’t Panerai known for heavyweight wrist dumbbells? Well, yes. But this one, bulky as it may look, is executed in titanium. And that is pretty neat if you ask me. I had the chance to wear one a little while back, and I am happy to report that it was an uncanny experience. Like a sleeper or Q-car, this watch just feels so radically different than it looks.
This PAM00176 measures 44mm in diameter, and the Panerai OP X caliber inside is, basically, an ETA 6497. As I explained in this earlier article, I think Panerai excels when keeping it simple like this. I would have this one over an expensive Luminor variant with an in-group caliber any day. This version has its water resistance rated at 300 meters and was made in a year-long run of 700 pieces. I particularly like the sandwich dial, which is almost a must for me on Panerai watches.
Originally, I had featured an example from 2006, but that one sold out before this article went live. Given the remaining offerings available and their prices, we’ve bent the rules a bit and chosen this specimen from 2011. Admittedly, this is two years past the cutoff, so please forgive us. This one comes with the original box but no papers. It is advertised as “in excellent condition with only very minor wear” and “keeping good time on my timegrapher when tested.” Just to be safe, I would interpret the latter to mean that a service will likely be needed in the near future. This Panerai PAM00176 is priced at US$5,495 (roughly €5,215) plus shipping via a Texas-based dealer on Chrono24.
Lightweight neo-vintage pick #2: Bvlgari Aluminium AL 38 A
Next, I have a watch that is much more specific to the ’90s in terms of design and one that is synonymous with the material it is made of — aluminum. This is the Bvlgari Aluminium. Considering the parameters that Nacho provided, there was really no way I could omit this watch. It is one of the few watches that is characterized by its lightweight material.
This is a 38mm × 9mm watch, which makes it pretty much perfect in terms of dimensions, at least in my humble opinion. The Bvlgari caliber 220, which is an ETA 2892 at heart, ticks away inside. You get a simple three-hander with a date in that instantly recognizable aluminum and rubber guise.
A Japanese dealer on Rakuten offers the one we have here, which you can purchase securely through Timepeaks if you live outside of Japan. If you consider the feature set and its unique ’90s design, it is a bit of a steal at roughly €780. There are some dents and scratches, as shown above, but nothing one would not expect from a watch of this age. The dealer also specifies in the Rakuten listing that the watch was serviced in April of this year.
The last (and possibly my favorite) pick: Rado Ceramica
The third of my lightweight neo-vintage picks is another that is almost mandatory, given the premise of the challenge. Think the ’90s. Think lightweight. The first thing that pops into my mind is that typical rectangular, gloss-black case with the bar bracelet — the Rado Ceramica.
The great thing about ceramic watches is that — provided you don’t crack them — they stay looking fresh forever. So you can easily score a ’90s specimen and rock it like a brand-new watch. An ETA quartz movement powers this version. We find a digital display positioned under the analog handset. Neatly executed in a similar golden hue, this provides you with several extra functions. You can have a 24-hour display, day, date, timer, GMT, chronograph, and alarm. Basically, this is a very fancy Casio.
The one we have here is a 28mm × 33mm × 7mm version on offer in Belgium. House of Magic Treasures in Antwerp is offering this full set for €945. I have to admit I am quite tempted. I have a hard-to-explain fondness for these Rados.
Closing thoughts on lightweight neo-vintage pre-owned watches
There you have it — three radically different neo-vintage featherweights. Actually, the three of these combined make a pretty perfect watch collection. The latter two are undervalued if you ask me. Especially now that the ’90s are coming back in vogue, I can imagine a fanbase arising for this genre. These two ’90s icons cost less than a mid-segment Seiko diver, and I cannot imagine it will stay that way. But hey, the watch world isn’t necessarily rational.
What do you think of these three watches? For me, growing up in the ’90s, these are so comfortingly familiar. They trigger some sentimental vibes. I was even gifted a fake Bvlgari Aluminium as a kid, which I wore to bits.
What other lightweight neo-vintage watches would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.
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