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Szanto: Vintage Timekeepers with modern reliability

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Compared to the 1930’s, the everyday wrist watch style has obviously changed. Size, band, even down to the reliability of the basic functions or ‘movements’ as they’re called, all have long since improved – that doesn't necessarily mean the aesthetics have improved. Fortunately there is a company that has developed a way to build a modern watch with the character of old time vintage watches, bringing that vintage look up to modern day speed. No need now to be nostalgic. With new quartz movements, larger straps of different materials, larger faces and less dome, Szanto has managed to keep the original luster of old-timey wristwatches by uncannily replicating the fonts, face color, and band leathers our grandparents were familiar with.

Szanto watch 2After speaking with Barry Cohen, founder and designer for the Szanto line (of Luminox fame), I learned his inspiration came from a close friend who is also, as Barry puts is, a ‘watch nut’. They met upon the friend’s request to show Barry a new watch he had purchased. Instead of pulling out a new IWC or other modern day watch, he instead showed Barry an old 1930s military time piece with what Mr. Cohen described as a “…tattered canvas strap and slightly domed olive dial, dusty olive color, and a six o'clock sub dial on it… the watch head was about the size of a US quarter.” After telling his friend no man in today’s time would wear such a small watch (the smaller sizes are now typically geared more towards women), the friend suggested he use leverage the appeal and look of the old watches and work towards his own, modern built vintage line. The idea went from there.

Szanto watch 3

After designing the watches, Cohen sat down with a list of 50 possible company names written on a sheet of paper, putting thought into which one would fit best. As he put it,

“The name is kinda like getting married, you're going to be with a while and you better like it.”

After the 50 names on paper didn’t work, he reflected upon his late mother and her family, finding a name he thought suited well. It was something short and easy to say, and he would “always be ok with it”, as it was a family name: Szanto (pronounced Sahn-tow).

Szanto leather band inside

From there, Szanto just needed one more thing to really convey to consumers the vintage style. While Cohen was at a vintage car show, he was struck by the idea of an old traveling trunk while examining an older style car with a platform (for traveling trunks) rather than a built-in trunk. He thought this would be great not just for staging, but would suit well for packaging as well. Thus they built the trunk box for the watches.

Szanto trunk cases

Lastly came the brochures featuring the line. Barry wanted to put something together that was in an old family scrapbook style, featuring the watches like old family photographs. Interestingly enough, he decided that there also needed to be pictures “of people way back when” along with the photos of the watches, to cater to the vintage look. Many of the pictures featured in the brochures, all of which are genuine, actually included his mother.

Szanto brochure pictures

Szanto has over 10 watches in their current line, with plans to add more again soon in the September-October timeframe. There is one piece in their current line that is uni-sex, and Barry mentioned more to come in the future. When asked if he had plans to come out with any female-specific models, he told me most of the vintage pieces he has interest in are styled more towards guys, but they will always be adding more models.

Szanto watch

One particular piece I'd like to bring attention to (just because I really liked the way it looked) would be Szanto Model 2252. This piece has an MSRP of $350. Details include: a 46mm stainless steel case, iron plated with brushed black finish. It has Japanese quartz chronograph 3-eye movement, genuine leather strap with cracked finished leather (for aging), as well as contrast stitching.

Szanto watch model 2252

Should you be interested in this or any other Szanto watches, visit their website or shoot an email to [email protected] for any questions.

A few retailer's you can visit to find Szanto products are:

  • Julianna’s Fine Jewelry:  415-924-9711

  • Claudia.N:  305-534-5986

  • Time After Time: 215-362-1663 or 215-658-1110

  • Harry’s Army Supply:  313-565-6605

  • Eurochasse – 203-625-9501

Szanto watch glowing

Szanto watch back

Szanto watch smallYou can follow Szanto on Facebook here.

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