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The 10 Best Luxury Watches Originally Designed in the 1970s

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In the 1970s the rise of quartz technology threatened mechanical watchmaking's heritage while a general decline in good taste threatened their aesthetics as well. With more perspective however we've come to appreciate that there were in fact several gorgeous designs that emerged from that era, and their increasing prices reflect this revisionism. Here are 10 of the best:

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, $16,561

Perhaps the most iconic '70s watch design, it was designed by the great Gerald Genta and first introduced in 1972 sporting a revolutionary integrated bracelet. 

Rolex Explorer II, $6,950

The version pictured here celebrates the 40th anniversary of the original orange hand Explorer II, which came to be known as the "Steve McQueen" though there's no evidence he actually owned one.

Patek Phillipe Nautilus, $44,000

In 1976 Patek brought on Genta to design its first sports watch, and the results are legendary. Over four decades the sinuous timepiece has changed very little.

TAG Heuer Monza, $4,200

Inspired by the ever-popular Carrera, the original limited edition Monza celebrated the Formula 1 racing title won by driver Niki Lauda in 1975; Heuer recently re-issued it.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Mark II, $3,000

In late 1969 Omega launched its first redesign of its famous "Moon watch," ushering in an era of swingin' 70s Speedmasters that took many years to gain appeal beyond diehard collectors.

IWC Da Vinci Perpetual, $13,000

The Da Vinci debuted in 1970 equipped with the first Swiss-manufactured quartz movement, which was extremely expensive at the time. IWC later brought it back, fitted with in-house mechanicals.

Breitling Chrono-Matic, $3,250

A groovier version of the watchmaker's classic Navitimer, the Chrono-Matic made concessions to the era's desire for more colorful watches without sacrificing its timeless appeal.

Longines Heritage Chronograph, $2,150

This re-issue of a handsome panda dial 1973 chrono is the biggest bargain on the list and packs enough style to handle anything your wardrobe, occupation or hobbies can throw at it.

Piaget Polo Titanium Chronograph, $6,976

This evolution of a classic 1970s sports watch has little in common with the original yet shows signs of its DNA. The first Polo was a quartz model and only came in solid gold.

Corum Bubble 47 Python, $2,706

Corum captured the ethos of 1970 perfectly with its first Feather Watch, which went on to inspire a range of other animal-inspired designs. The Python version is considerably more badass.