Wittnauer Professional Chronograph
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Wittnauer Professional Chronograph

During the 1930s and 1940s, chronographs were an essential piece of kit for military aviators. But after the war, the chronograph saw use in a new arena: sports. The flieger chronographs with their stark black dials metamorphosed, oftentimes retaining the black dials, but taking on bright colors to signify their new use.

In the 1960s the fashion was for sporty chronographs with large, sturdy steel cases. The Omega Speedmaster is deemed by collectors to be the quintessential chrono of the period, thanks to its use throughout the decades by NASA in all manned space missions. Its design was groundbreaking: where in pervious chronographs the telemeter and tachymeter scales were on the chapter ring of the dial, giving it a cluttered look, Omega broke from tradition by placing the tachymeter on the bezel.

As the 1960s progressed, many brands from Rolex to Zodiac released their own version of the versatile complication, capitalizing on the Speedmaster’s success. Many of these, such as the Rolex Daytona or the Yachting Timer by Breitling, had an external bezel similar in design to the Speedmaster. They capture the spirit of 1960s design with a flair that’s entirely unique to each, despite their similarities.

While these have become collectible and desirable in their own right, with some like the “Paul Newman” Daytona fetching tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars at auction, the sheer number of manufactures that released chronographs throughout the 1960s means that the look can be had for a fraction of the price.

Wittnauer is a name that’s coming to the forefront in vintage collecting circles. Established in New York in 1885, Wittnauer saw most of its history as a distributor for Longines. In the 1950s Wittnauer was finally bought by Longines, and that’s when the brand really enjoyed its heyday.

In the mid-1960s, when NASA was looking for a chronograph to qualify for the Apollo missions, Wittnauer was one of the few that saw contention. Though the chronograph that Wittnauer submitted didn’t make the final selection (that honor of course went to the Speedy), the consideration by NASA emboldened Wittnauer to release a line of “Professional” chronographs. This watch, the Reference 7004A, is one of these.

Dating from the 1960s, this Reference 7004A Chronograph was marketed by Longines-Wittnauer as a professional-grade timepiece and fitted with the redoubtable Landeron 248 manual winding movement. The matte black dial features twin subsidiary registers (sweep seconds at 9:00, and a 30 Minute Counter at 3:00 with the 5 minutes countdown in red). The rotating outer bezel has aged over the years to a lovely cherry-red hue. 

The reference 7004A has everything you could want in a vintage chronograph. It captures the look of the classic 1960s chronographs like the Omega Speedmaster, but without the price tag that usually comes with a Speedy, and with a distinctive look all its own. With great colors, a terrific movement and a perfectly-sized steel case, you'd be hard-pressed to find a cooler vintage chronograph for the money.

Details

SKU: AS02047

Stainless steel case is approximately 38mm (excluding crown and pushers). Wittnauer Reference 7004A. Landeron Calibre 248 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1960s.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in good condition, with sharp bevels on the lugs. Case does have signs of use and wear throughout, including some dings and scratches on the sides of the case. Rotating bezel is in very good condition, with signs of fading due to age, and some scratches from the 5 to 10 minute markers. Dial is in very good condition with fine even patina to the luminescent hour markers. Luminescent material on the hands has been professionally relumed. Unsigned crown. Case back has some scratches and tool marks but is in otherwise good condition.

Includes one 20mm nylon strap.

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