Coolest watches of the decade: 1980s

Ahh, the 80s.
Flashy, opulent, exaggerated… but they also had defects. What a decade.

The watches of the 80s were, of course, perfect representations of all the fashion and taste of this boxy-shaped and neon-lit decade.

Among the many (many) amazing cults like Miami Vice, the Lancia Delta and Big in Japan by Alphaville, the 80s also left us with incredible timepieces that are still loved today. 

And yes, there will be a lot of two-tone. Because, you know… the eighties.
Choose your soundtrack and buckle up, here are the top 5 watches from the 1980s.

Man, I love the 80s. 

Cartier Santos and Santos Galbée - Of course, in two-tone

Cartier has been producing watches, like the Santos, from the early years of the century, but it’s only in the 80s that the whole brand was really awarded a place in horology world by the public.

Launched just before the beginning of the 80s, in 1978, the new Cartier Santos was intended to be produced in two-tone.
It actually was one of the first watches to sport this incoming trend. And, be honest, not many watches wear the two-tone so perfectly like the Cartier Santos.

The Two-tone is just perfect on the Cartier Santos

Immediately, the market was flooded with requests of the new hot-looking watch from Cartier. The two tone Santos became “the watch to have” during the 80s.

Revised in 1987, the Cartier Santos was relaunched as Santos Galbée. The new shape was a little more ergonomical, with more curved lugs. 

Cartier santos Galbée on the left and the Two-Tone Cartier Santos, Courtesy of George Cramer

Rolex Oysterquartz

Boxy, quartz-powered and available in two tone: that’s 80s as hell.
Just like the Santos, the Rolex Oysterquartz line was unveiled at the very end of the 70s (in 1977), and anticipated the trends that will prove winning in the next years. 

Experimenting with new mechanisms and technologies, Rolex decided to give the new line a completely brand new look.
New integrated bracelet, sharp angles, the Oysterquartz was destined to shine.

Beautiful Rolex Oysterquartz, courtesy of @oysterquartz: the best for OQ content.

Available both as Datejust as well as Day-Date, the line included stainless steel, two-tone, yellow gold and white gold models.

Different dials and flamboyant decorations (like the pyramids below) were available. Our suggestion? Try a bark dial, throw some diamonds on… don’t be shy. It’s the 80s!

Another amazing pic from @oysterquartz


Introduced in 1983 as an inexpensive Swiss alternative to Japanese quartz watches, the whole idea behind Swatch was to allow the public to buy a casual “second watch”. Yes, that’s what “swatch” means.

People loved it: in the first year, Swatch watches sold over 1 million units.
But Swatches were more than an accessory to let the youth be trendy, they immediately became white canvas for artists.
Among the most iconic, we can’t forget the 1985 “Jellyfish” and the 1986 collaboration with the genius artist Keith Haring.
Fun, inexpensive, colorful: icons. Deep in our collectors’ soul, we all love them.

Omega “La Magique”

In the same year that Swatch was introduced to public, a guy named Tony Montana was about to become history. We’re of course talking about Al Pacino in Scarface.

Tony Montana in Scarface, wearing the Omega La Magique

Drugs, guns, dirty money, Miami. Again, that’s 80s as hell.
And can the king of gangsters wear a simple watch? Of course not.
Released in 1982, the Omega La Magique was (and still is) the thinnest watch from Omega, with just 2.6 mm in thickness.

But that’s not the most fascinating detail, as you can easily see.

The beautiful illusion of the La Magique

The time is displayed by two transparent discs, giving the illusion of a magical invisible mechanism.

Made in solid 18kt yellow gold and available in just 261 pieces, this watch is the perfect choice for a flashy drug lord that need to keep the profile low. As low as any profile could have been kept in the 80s.

Cartier Pasha

This list has began with a Cartier, and it’ll finish with a Cartier as well. Can we perhaps say that the 80s were a gold decade for Cartier?
So, the watch to have was a two-tone Santos… until 1985. Then the Pasha was released.

With the same descretion of a white Ferrari Testarossa blasting "Jump" by Van Halen, the Pasha came. And it scored.

Incredible Cartier Pasha with Grille and Figaro bracelet, @George Cramer

The opulescence, the grill, the chain on the crown. A very masculine watch (38 mm) compared to the small and refined pieces that the maison was associated with.

A must have of the 80s, available in different variations, like the ultra-flashy “golf” or the perpetual calendar, one of the author actual favorites.
No wonder the Pasha and the Santos were reported to be “the most faked” watches of the decade.

Honorable mention: Casio Calculator Watch CA-50

Introduced in 1984, this watch was on more wrists than probably all the previous combined. So, of course, we have to mention this one.

The watch of Marty McFly in Back to the Future, a true 80s icon. And you can get a brand new piece of history as well: the later version, the CA-53W (released in 1988) is still available today, for a pretty affordable price too!

 Well, this are the top 5 (+1) watches that, to us, represent the incredible decade that  only the 80s were. Do you agree? What watches you dreamed of during the 80s? What did you own?
As always, let us hear your comments.