Collecting vintage watches is great—as long as you’re okay with a little maintenance (OK, a lot of maintenance). Fine watches are carefully crafted, intricate machines—that’s why we love them—but the years can take a toll. By the time it reaches your wrist, a vintage watch has likely gone through quite a bit of wear and tear, and those precision parts probably don’t work like they used to. For some, that’s fine, but for others, a broken vintage watch is, well, a broken watch. That’s what makes the Nivada Grenchen Valjoux 23 VZ Limited Edition so appealing. Made from new-old stock movements, this pair of timepieces effectively recreates watches of yearyear as if they were brand new. In other words, owning one is like owning a vintage watch—without the maintenance headaches.
The two watches are an exercise in bringing history to life. The big highlight here is actually what’s underneath the surface: a vintage, fully restored Valjoux 23 VZ movement. This hand-wound chronograph is one of the most iconic watch movements in history, especially since it enjoyed an incredible production run from 1916 through 1974. It also spawned a number of variants.
To make this new release possible, Nivada first secured a trove of 55 unused 23 VZs. The company used five of them to develop prototypes, and the rest were taken apart, fully serviced and lubricated, and used to power the limited-edition pair of timepieces now on offer.
Of course, the outside of these watches is very special too. They’ve been dubbed “Paul Newman” watches because they use unique Singer dials similar to the ones found on the Daytona Rolexes the actor favored. It’s also what distinguishes the two models: There’s a “panda” version with a white dial and black subdials, and a “reverse panda” with a black dial and white subdials. Depending on the color, the hour and minute hands come in either silver or black (accented with Super LumiNova for good legibility), while both watches come with a bold red seconds hand that really stands out from the face of the watch.
The pair of subdials—representing the watch’s chronograph feature—also add visual interest and make a nice contrast with the dial. They’re framed by a 39mm stainless steel case with a rotating bezel, and a see-through case back provides a glimpse of the inner workings of the namesake movement. It’s all tied together (literally) with a handsome black leather strap.
The pre-order list is currently full, but keep an eye out for resellers—this is a rare chance to pick up a piece of history that still functions exactly like it should.