Although recently eclipsed by multifunctional sports watches and training apps, stopwatches were once a staple in measuring sports performance. And we’re not just talking about a piece of plastic with a digital display – the chronometers of yesteryear were precision machines that rivaled their wristwatch counterparts in style (which makes sense, as many great watchmakers produced also stopwatches). In the new Tracksmith x Wind Vintage collection, launched last week, chronometers finally have their place: the collection of 11 vintage mechanical chronometers showcases the know-how of these timepieces and underlines their important role in running.
The collection was born from a partnership between Black-smith, the running brand known for its varsity and vintage-inspired performance clothing, and Vintage Wind, a company founded by Eric Wind specializing in the sale and maintenance of high quality antique watches. To create the collection, Wind worked with Tracksmith to select 11 unique vintage stopwatches that highlight the important role that timekeeping has played in athletics over the years.
The collection includes items from well-known watch brands like Breitling, Omega and Heuer, as well as more obscure manufacturers like Gallet and Favre-Leuba, all produced from the 1950s to the 1980s. Together they are an excellent representation of utilitarian style and mechanical stopwatch craftsmanship – and each of these choices has a story to tell.
Take, for example, the rattrapante Heuer from Abercrombie & Fitch. This chronometer was produced in Switzerland in the 1960s for Abercrombie & Fitch (at the time the brand was an outdoor equipment retailer), and it featured a ‘split second’ complication that allowed the user to follow two runners simultaneously. To this end, it is made up of two seconds, one with a half-moon counterweight, the other with a teardrop-shaped counterweight, to track two different beats. Bold black and red second markers make it easy to read at a glance, and with its large crown, drawstring ring, and two buttons, it’s simple and functional, but also surprisingly stylish.
Highlights of the rest of the collection include a stopwatch designed for the New York City Board of Education (probably used in gym class running sessions), a military stopwatch with “US Government” imprinted on the dial, and a rare Heuer chronometer which can follow the hours through a unique âjumping hour counterâ window integrated into the dial. But for points of pure style, we love the 1960s Minerva and its clean, open dial, large red minute hand, and bold numerals. It’s an undeniable classic, but it still looks beautiful and stylish, even decades after it was made.
It seems that there has been a lot of pent-up demand for vintage stopwatches; the collection sold out almost immediately after release. But keep an eye out for dealers and maybe another version of Tracksmith and Wind Vintage in the future.
[Starting at $190; tracksmith.com]
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