Prices on some of the most sought-after vintage watches have exploded in recent years. 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 start your own vintage watch collection. 

It’s a competitive market out there and many vintage watches sell for thousands and much more. But there are still many decent vintage watches you may be lucky enough to nab for under £2,000, including iconic models from Omega, Longines, and Zenith. There are also plenty of good condition, yet affordable, vintage watches to be had from lesser-known brands.

With a bit of knowledge about what to look for, you can find an affordable vintage watch that you’ll be excited to wear and share its story. Just be warned – the thrill that comes with purchasing your first vintage watch can be addictive.

If you’re buying your first vintage watch, we’d recommend you keep it simple by choosing a ‘time only’ waterproof automatic. The 1960s was a sweet spot for these and it is often referred to as the golden age of watchmaking. This was when wristwatches from many of the famous brands we know today became popular, and their anti-magnetic shockproof movements became much more accurate, reliable and robust.

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

Top 5 Vintage Watches Under £2,000

1) 1960s Omega Constellation Automatic

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 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 symbolise two chronometer records and six first-place awards that Omega earned between 1933 and 1952. Because of its high-quality construction and unfaltering precision, the Constellation quickly became known as “The Swiss watch” and sold for a considerable 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.

However, 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.

Browse vintage Omega Constellation Automatics here.

2) 1960s 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. Released in 1957 and still in production to this day, 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 equipped with a round silver finished stainless steel case, black lacquered polished dial and beautifully contrasting 12 diamond studs acting as hour mark indexes. The 30-metre water-resistant watch also features a date window and has great scratch and friction-resistant qualities, thanks to its sapphire crystal finish glass coating over 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.

Browse vintage Longine Flagship Automatic here

3) 1960s Omega Seamaster Automatic

The Seamaster has been a cornerstone of the Omega brand for over 75 years. Launched in 1948 in celebration of Omega’s 100th anniversary and based on designs made for the British Royal Navy during World War II this has always been a robust, dependable and accurate watch. What distinguished the Seamaster from its predecessors was its O-ring gasket. 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 – £1,800 for one with a case made in steel, and around double for one in gold.

Browse vintage Omega Seamaster Automatics here.

4) 1960s Zenith Defy Automatic

For the greater part of the 60s, Zenith released classically styled dress watches and chronographs. The second part of the 1960s is when 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 were powered by superb Zenith movements which generally feature a date window placed between 4 and 5 o’clock. In the early 70s, Zenith updated the movement and dials, which stayed in production until 1975.

You’ll be surprised how affordable these models still are, but the condition of the watch is absolutely key. Unfortunately, over time, many of the cases were adapted by overenthusiastic watchmakers that often ruined the unique shape. And there are also quite a few with non-original dials. 

That’s why it is important to take your time to find a model 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 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.

Browse vintage Zeniths here.

5) 1960s Hand Wound Girard Perregaux

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 advanced watches ever made, such as the Tourbillons, Minute Repeaters and other 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 Girard-Perregaux during the past 10 years has helped vintage Girard-Perregaux watches become more collectable and investable. The sheer quality and rarity of great examples, mean values are climbing. This watch will make an excellent investment and you should expect to pay in the region of £1200 – £1500 for a really nice example made with a steel case, and around double for one made in gold.

Browse vintage Girard-Perregaux’s here.

The Last Word

It’s important to note that the prices stated in this article are correct at the time of writing in April 2023. Due to the collectability of the models highlighted, you can expect their values to keep increasing. 

The prices stipulated are what you should expect to pay when dealing with a reputable dealer offering a fully comprehensive 12-month warranty, 14 days sale or return, a 100% authenticity guarantee, and great aftersales service.

As you may have noticed the above prices under £2,000 are for steel-cased watches. This is simply because it’s very difficult to find a fully serviced or restored gentlemen’s vintage gold watch, worthy of recommendation and supplied by a reputable dealer. However, steel watches are harder wearing, so this is the place to start if £2,000 is your absolute ceiling. If you’d really prefer a watch made in gold please then talk to us about our LayAway scheme which will give you time to pay with no interest charged. 

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.

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Alan Wood
Alan Wood, founder of Vintage Gold Watches, is a trusted vintage watch dealer with 35+ years of experience. His passion and expertise have earned him a respected reputation in the industry. Vintage Gold Watches, established in 2011, is known for Alan's knowledge and skilled restoration team. With a love for vintage watches since his youth, Alan is thrilled to share the finest timepieces from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s with others, fueling his obsession.