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Five Vintage Watches to Kickstart an Amazing Collection

At Sotheby's Watches sale in London on Sept. 24 there are a range of impeccable examples of high-end watchmaking on offer from the past 60 years, any one of which could kickstart a world-class collection.

Here are our top picks:

Rolex Submariner "Explorer Dial" Ref. 5513

Only a small fraction of 5513s were fitted with this special ‘3-6-9', aka Explorer dial as opposed to the standard Submariner dial, and the ghost bezel really makes it sing. Made c. 1964 this one is estimated at $60,900–$97,500

Rolex Military Submariner Ref. 116610LN

Military Submariners are deservedly famous, but they aren't all from the '70s. This one was supplied by Rolex to the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, a Special Forces Regiment of the British Armed Forces, in 2013 and is engraved with the SSR logo. Estimated at $18,000–$30,500.

Rolex Daytona "Big Red" Ref. 6263

While Paul Newman Daytonas are off the charts, "Big Reds" still look like a relative bargain and avoid all the collectors' clichés. This last evolution of the Ref. 6263 was made c.1979 and is estimated at $30,500–$55,000.

Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675

The "Mk 2" matte dial on this c.1972 Pepsi GMT has developed a "warm mustard patina" Sotheby's notes, making it especially rare and beautiful in conjunction with the naturally faded bezel. Estimated at $9,750–$14,600.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Deep Sea

Want to get into something a bit more reasonably priced? The Memovox Deep Sea reference E857 was launched in 1959 and was the first diver’s watch to feature an alarm. And talk about patina. Estimated at $9,750–$14,600.