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These Are The Best Vintage Watches Under $500

Watches do more than just tell time. They mark a special occasion when given as a gift. They chronicle family history when cherished as an heirloom. They recall not only the hours but also the days when time was spent with loved ones, or time healed a wound, or time was fleeting but also well spent.

Vintage watches are always in high demand by collectors and sought after by those who eschew today’s modern timepieces that are high on functionality but lacking in style and substance.

Take some time to review this list of 10 vintage watches with a price tag of $500 or less, and you could find yourself combing the market for a classic timepiece you can call your own.

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Rado Starliner

Founded in 1917, Rado has consistently turned out fun and unique watches that collectors crave. The Starliner wristwatch, which hails from the early- to mid- 1970s, features a distinctive anchor logo that swivels freely in the case along with raised indices along face.

Girard Perregaux Gyromatic

Introduced in the late 1950s, this dress watch was produced in several different references:  some with a date window, some with a day date, and others with only a simple minimalist face. This Swiss watchmaker is well regarded and boasts a storied history of watch making.

Bulova Oceanographer Snorkel 666

This wristwatch, making its debut in the 1970s, features a c-case, thick bezel, and substantial hour and minute hands with painted lume. Part of its timeless beauty rests in the hour indices:  Instead of simply painting the numbers on the face, the company placed luminous semitransparent plastic tubes on each hour. Eye catching, every time.

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Omega Seamaster

Various references of the Omega Seamaster watch were made available from the 1950s through the 1970s. Take your pick of gold fill, solid gold, or steel:  All of the watches feature the same in-house Omega 550 movement.

Tissot Visodate

From its inception in 1853, Tissot has been firmly ensconced in the ‘luxury’ watchmaker category. The Seastar is still in production today; versions from the late 1960s and early 1970s can be had for anywhere from $100 to $1,000. As a surprisingly sleek automatic dive watch, the Visodate makes some of today’s ginormous dive watches look anything but stylishly timeless.

Longines Flagship

A great vintage watch, the Longines Flagship timepiece reflects the impeccable in-house movement, hand finishing, and refined style for which Longines has long been known. Sought-after references of the Flagship can be found for under $500, although the search for one may take a bit of patience.

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Bulova A174 Mil-Spec

Primarily produced for the Air Force during the Korean war era, the Bulova A17A Mil-Spec is an impressive military watch that can be yours if you’re willing to pay somewhere in the mid-to-high hundreds of dollars. Keep an eye out for mistaken identity:  The Bulova 3818A is frequently mistaken, or purposely misrepresented, as the more desirable A17A. Check the back of the watch for the correct identifying information. 

Hamilton Brock

A bit more unique than the average sized vintage watch, the Brock was made by Hamilton from 1939 to 1952. You can get your hands on one for around $500, but be wary of different variations, many of which are designed with a 14K gold case.

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Grand Seiko Hi Beat

Japanese watch maker Grand Seiko manufactured the Hi Beat watch during the 1960s and 1970s. Designer Taro Tanaka sought to develop a watch that would subtlety, yet undeniably, catch the eye without being garish or overly designed. With its metallic face, highly polished surfaces on the case, and a flat crystal, the Hi Beat easily manages to stand out from more commonplace watches.

Jaeger Lecoultre Memovox

With its classic minimalist design, the Jaeger Lecoultre Memovox watch has earned its placement in the dress watch category. If you’re up for conducting an extensive search, you could snag a Memovox for around $500 – an absolute bargain for a timepiece of this quality from a luxury brand like Jaeger Lecoultre.