Top 7 Vintage Watch Bezels That Would Never Be Made Today
I can’t help myself. Anytime I see an original vintage watch bezel I’ve never seen before, I am intrigued and amused. A witty, surprising, or unusual bezel gives any watch a hard-to-beat attitude. The best news is that it doesn‘t necessarily have to be an expensive watch.
No grails today. Just a selection of random brands, some of which you might have never heard of. Just sheer originality and creative bezel freedom. Some designs might look crazy, but you can’t argue that each of them is fascinating in its own way. Get ready.
Orator Automatic Diver
Despite no striking colors, this is anything but a typical bezel for an otherwise pretty standard skin diver watch. It landed on the top of my vintage watch bezels list because of the twisted 30. While it usually sits so that you can easily read it, Orator turned it 90 degrees. A minor change, but what a mind-bending experience. It sits there, squeezed in like it was trapped. Factor in the unusual diamond-shaped indexes and the crown symbol at 12 o’clock and tell me it’s not cool.
Before hitting you with some heavy metal designs, here is one pretty cold and bold Wyler. If you know Wyler, you’ll know that this is not what you typically see.The big fat Jersey style numerals look like a blueprint for modern Explorer bezels. If you consider you are looking at a 35mm diameter watch, the bezel is pure art. I like the irregularities and the apparent ruggedness that make this vintage watch bezel look like an individualistic art piece crafted by hand.
I never liked the Breitling Avenger line as the bezel struck me as uselessly chunky. Rewind a few decades and you’ll find a similarly (questionable) idea, but executed much better. Each number on the 12-hour bezel sits in its own dock. Unlike the Breitling, the plates the numbers are sitting on are not heightened but rather carved into the bezel. There aren‘t many pictures available, but dig into it and enjoy the steep profile of the bezel. It appears to be flat and perfectly cheats your eyesight. Even omitting the pulsation scale or the amazing Movado caliber M90, a profile view of the bezel is magnificent.
The seamless, functional, and non-violent integration of the crown into the lugs at the 12 o’clock position, that’s one hell of a job. But anytime I see a Triton Spirotechnique, it’s the huge vintage bezel that wins my heart. The ratio of the bezel width against the dial diameter is almost disgustingly functional. It’s just big. Big enough to make each line look like a big fat index. And the best part? The numbers. Each couple is separated by a huge gap that makes them look like they hate each other and do not belong together. On the top, the zero is always just half the size. Oh, and notice that transparent bakelite that looks like a swimming pool full of water to its very top.
Philip Watch Caribbean 2000
The most bizarre contender in today’s lineup. This watch seems to be at least 330 feet way from any diving watch equipment you have seen before. Do you remember the charming Wilmington pocket watch with the numbers 0–60 printed all around the minute track? The Philip Watch Caribbean has the same fully numeric track printed on a playful bezel. Besides the starting mark, there are no other highlights that would help you quickly read the 5, 10, or 15-minute interval. Without any other details, it looks very tidy, but I am not sure how practical this vintage watch bezel is. Regardless of the functionality, I find this circular garden-fence-style vintage watch bezel very romantic.
Mondia Sea Scout Diver
Does the Omega TinTin sound like an unobtainable watch to you? With a bit of imagination, you can have it in the form of Mondia’s bright orange Sea Scout Diver bezel. It’s no legend, but I bet it can shine nicely on the wrist. A perfect example of why it pays to blindly browse eBay sometimes. Try typing something random into the search bar and let eBay navigate you through multiple levels of hidden suggested listing gems. Maybe you will also bump into another Mondia, mentioned previously on Fratello…
Favre Leuba Deep Blue “Roulette” 59863
One look is enough to transport you back to the 1970s. Favre Leuba is known for its striking designs full of little details and rich colors. The minute hand with its special tip is in a category of its own, but here we have even more to marvel at. The bezel doesn’t sit tight around the mineral crystal and is separated from it by an almost sculptural piece of steel. As attractive as only bakelite can be, the thin bakelite bezel livens up the Roulette black and white pattern. If that wasn‘t enough, you have decent red print for each 5-minute interval. I bet the 40mm case diameter makes it dangerously wearable, even today.
Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below and share your own remarkable bezel finds with the community!