Although recently eclipsed by multifunctional sports watches and workout apps, stopwatches were once an essential part of sports performance measurement. 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, since many great watchmakers produced also stopwatches). In the new Tracksmith x Wind Vintage collection, launched last week, chronometers finally have their due: the collection of 11 vintage mechanical chronometers showcases the craftsmanship of these timepieces and highlights their important role in racing.
The collection was born out of a partnership between Black-smith, the running brand known for its collegiate and vintage-inspired performance apparel, and Wind Vintage, 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 timepieces that highlight the important role 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 of mechanical chronometer craftsmanship, and each of these choices has a story to tell.
Take the Heuer by Abercrombie & Fitch Split-seconds, for example. This stopwatch was produced in Switzerland in the 1960s for Abercrombie & Fitch (at the time the brand was an outdoor equipment retailer), and it included a “split-off” complication that allowed the user to track two runners simultaneously. To this end, it is made up of two seconds hands, one with a half-moon counterweight, the other with a teardrop-shaped counterweight, to track two different times. Bold black and red second markers make it easy to read at a glance, and with its large crown, cord ring and two buttons, it’s simple and functional, but also strikingly elegant.
Highlights of the rest of the collection include a stopwatch designed for the New York City Board of Education (likely put to work during running sessions in gym class), a military stopwatch with “US Government” printed on the dial and a rare Heuer chronometer that can track the hours through a unique “jumping hour counter” window built into the dial. But for pure style points, we love the 1960s Minerva and its clean, open dial, big red minute hand, and bold numerals. It’s an undeniable classic, but it still looks beautiful and elegant, even decades after it was made.
There seems to have been a lot of pent up demand for vintage stopwatches; the collection sold out almost immediately upon release. But keep an eye out for stockists and maybe another Tracksmith and Wind Vintage release in the future.
[Starting at $190; tracksmith.com]
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews and more, subscribe on YouTube!