By Logan R. Baker
Photos by Dani Vernon
Hunting for vintage or vintage-inspired watches has never been more popular than in today’s marketplace. This year’s Baselworld is proof of the trend, with brands of every size and caliber releasing multiple models focused on heritage. Or you can mosey over to one of the many online watch forums dedicated to selling and trading authentic vintage watches. However, the quest for a new, affordable mechanical watch that ticks off all the marks on a vintage-inspired checklist can still be a difficult proposition.
Szanto Watches is able to fulfill this aesthetic desire with its various lines of vintage-inspired wristwear. The brand is an independent, California-based marque founded in the early 2010s by former Luminox head Barry Cohen. Cohen was struck by vintage military watch designs from the early to mid-1900s and decided to reinvigorate the category with modern-sized options that appeal to vintage geeks of all kinds.
I was fortunate enough to receive for testing two models: the 6104 SS, part of the brand’s lineup of Big Pilot Automatic watches, and the 6301, part of the brand’s Officer Classic Round series. The 6104 SS has a hazy-green dial that matches its traditional 24-hour subdial, squelette hands, and Arabic numerals. It has the appearance and heft of a watch that might have appeared on the wrist of a World War II fighter pilot. Twenty-four hour subdials have never been my favorite complication because of their tendency to crowd an already busy dial, but the Szanto 6104 SS makes it work through the dial design, the 46 mm case, and the muted gold tone of the numerals.
The 6301 offers a lot more elegance in a smaller case construction. The watch actually feels a bit more compact on the wrist than the 43 mm size would suggest, due to its chunky, circular case. The dial comes with guilloché-inspired stamping that adds a nice touch to the piece’s overall finishing. A small seconds subdial rests agreeably between four and five o’clock.
While both straps are genuine calf leather, I found the black strap on the 6301 to be quite a bit more comfortable, and it allowed the round case to rest perfectly on my wrist without sliding around. The 6104 SS felt oversize at times and not as optimal for daily wear, despite an authentic and attractive design.
Both watches offer value for the price tag. At $375 for the 6301 and $450 for the 6104, you can’t really go wrong when looking for a budget addition to your collection. Each watch comes equipped with a Miyota 8217 Japanese automatic movement that offers a 40-hour power reserve. Whether you’re after a diver, pilot, or dress watch, Szanto offers over 17 different collections in a variety of styles, colors, and price ranges. And for the low price tag, there is a lot to desire about the diversity these watches offer potential buyers.
More information can be found on Szanto’s website.