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While the market can seem daunting to budding collectors, there are still values to be had, namely from smaller Swiss manufacturers like Wakmann, Nivada, Le Jour, and others. Though such watches might not necessarily afford the same shock and status value as a vintage chronograph with a crown on its dial, they can be every bit as stunning, and a joy to wear.
Wakmann in particular holds a special place in the minds of vintage watch collectors, as there are several references and desirable models from the brand that can still be described as being relatively affordable, or accessible. Whether it’s sporty, complicated or stripped-down and understated, there’s a Wakmann of note to suggest, which would in turn suggest a look into its history is more than warranted.
The Wakmann Watch Company was founded in the state of New York in 1946, and began both importing and manufacturing fine timepieces of impressive quality. In little time, the name became synonymous with expertise in the field of chronograph production, along with timekeeping in the American market, as a whole. Due to the tax structure of the era that enforced substantial duties on the importation of Swiss wristwatches, Wakmann saw opportunity in their industry by partnering with Breitling, who supplied the brand with watch components to be given a final assembly, and later sold. Their success would lead to the supplying of timepieces for the US military and other professional issue applications, and an eventual Breitling buyout.
One of the most notable pieces from the brand that’s now a sought after commodity, is the Valjoux 72 powered Triple Date Chronograph, which Wakmann produced in several dial and case variations. Remember that this is the same caliber found inside other far more costly watches like the Autavia from Heuer, Universal Geneve’s Tri-Compax, and of course the legendary Rolex Daytona, but offered in a package that won’t entirely break the bank. Countless designs of timeless and iconic nature came out of the watchmaking industry in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Triple Date Chronograph from Wakmann is no exception.
Also of note is the yachting inspired Regate Chronograph, which screams 1970s nautical styling. Powered by the Lemania 1341, these large cased chronographs featured rotating inner bezels with two-register chronographs positioned curiously at 6 and 9 o’clock. The chronograph also incorporated a central minute counter for increased legibility, and a monthly calendar function controlled via the inner bezels. All things considered, it’s again another interesting watch from Wakmann, that would make a great addition for any collector in search of something fun.
The bottom line is that Wakmann represents one of the finest options available if in the market for a vintage watch at the more accessible end of the spectrum. The extensive back catalog of this pre-Quartz Crisis brand is chock full of exciting watches, each offering value and quality in a smart looking package. You could go as far as saying it’s the first and last piece you’d need if simply in search of a nice vintage watch, but as any collector knows, you don’t just get out of the game that easily.