These Affordable Watches Are Loaded with Vintage-Inspired Details

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When people ask me for watch advice, they’re most often looking for affordable pieces. Although the community of serious collectors is growing, most folks still just want a single timepiece—preferably one that’s reasonably priced and high quality. So, my antenna was sparking earlier this year when Nick Ferrell of DC Vintage Watches announced he was launching his own line of watches, dubbed the Sycamore Collection. As a dealer who specializes in vintage Seiko, few people in the watch world better understand the characteristics that can help an affordable timepiece punch well above its weight. Now, he’s using that knowledge to design an assortment of modern pieces.

Ferrell is famous for his attention to detail, and clients often come to him asking him to hunt down pieces with obscure features or watches they spotted in shoddy old photos. His talent made him a resource for folks like Daniel Dae-Kim and Ronny Chieng, both of whom were in search of rare vintage Seikos. With the Sycamore Collection, Ferrell is bringing the very attributes his clients are after into new timepieces. The line launched with just two models: the Wolf GMT diver and Hunter dress watch, both priced below $800. “I just hadn’t come across any modern watch that combined these trends,” Ferrell said over email.

The initial Sycamore offerings represent the two sides of the collecting coin. The Wolf GMT is Ferrell’s contribution to the sport watch category: a sleek, matte-black, PVD-coated piece with the ability to track two different time zones. The watch borrows design elements from several different popular pieces, including a Seiko with Arabic-language numerals. You can also imagine that Rolex’s Explorer II helped inspire that outsized, playful orange hand. The Hunter, meanwhile, is slightly more subtle, even if the matte black case and standout orange hand remain. “1960s Rolex Datejust dress watches—with their ability to easily pair with anything from a tuxedo to a button-down and jeans—played a role [in informing the Hunter’s design],” Ferrell explained.

Ferrell wasn’t merely drawing from trends when concocting these watches, however. His winding path to watch dealing—which included stints at the Department of Defense and Department of State—also inspired the Sycamore line, with each watch reflecting a different aspect of politicking: The Hunter represents the side of diplomacy, while the Hunter is meant to symbolize espionage and the military.

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