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Old Is New Again by Jack Foster
Every year, watchmakers offer eye-catching new timepieces that define the future of the industry. But some of the best  styles (and values) come from watches whose designs are based solid

In 1962 Rado introduced the revolutionary Diastar, billed as the world's first scratchproof watch. With its "hard metal" tungsten and titanium carbide case and sublime profile, the watch became a hit. But today's Diastar fans needn't go vintage hunting—the Rado Original has the same ultra-tough hard-metal case and design aesthetic that made the original such a sought-after piece.

Cartier's Tank, a classic of Art Deco design, debuted in 1918, taking its name from its resemblance to a military tank as seen from above. Tanks were very exclusive—until the 1960s Cartier often made fewer than 100 per year. The current version of the original—the Louis Cartier XL Slimline—is a tad easier to find. Like the 1918 version, it's ultra-thin, made with a high-grade mechanical movement, and classically designed.

Famous for their Pilot's Watch, IWC has also been making one of the world's most classic dress watches since 1984: the thin, round and elegantly masculine Portofino. Named for the famed Italian Riviera hideaway, today"s version is no mere reproduction; it's a perfect homage to the flawless watch that been gracing well-dressed wrists for a quarter century.

Another Deco-era classic, the Reverso, named for its reversible case, was originally developed for polo players to safeguard the watch face from damage. The update of the 1931 version is the Reverso Grande 976, upsized for contemporary tastes, but with the same harmonious proportions and reversible case as the original.

In 1938 Panerai delivered what may have been the world's first true diver's watch to the Italian navy. Called the Panerai Radiomir, it was named for its then-revolutionary luminous dial. Today's version—the Radiomir 3 Days—is identical to the 1938 original, even if most people don't use it to launch underwater commando raids on the Axis countries.