Reimaging Classic Watch Models
Watchmaking is an industry of classics, a battleground of stalwarts. Many new models are so obviously inspired by the past Classic watch models that previously taboo terms such as ‘derivative’ or ‘homage’ have become par for the course in recent years.
Nobody likes to blatantly acknowledge the fact they’ve ripped off a beloved reference, or harvested somebody else’s genius, but it’s widely accepted that smaller brands with less heritage are expected, even encouraged, to do this.
Nobody, that is, but for the brand responsible for said classic. ‘Reimagining’ classic watch models seems to be in vogue. And why not? Just like the frequent Hollywood remakes of seminal cinema, why shouldn’t watchmaking cherry-pick the greats from its annals of excellence, and bring them back to life using new technology, futuristic materials, and the improved manufacturing processes that continue to amaze and delight fans of haute horlogerie the world over?
To be honest, it’s about time…
One of the biggest Basel stories this year was Omega’s 1957 collection. A trio of updates celebrating the Speedmaster, Seamaster, and Railmaster classic watch models all released in 1957.
Given the longevity of these three ranges (especially the prolific performance of the Seamaster and Speedmaster lines) it’s amazing they all emerged at the same time. Calling 1957 a golden year for the Swatch Group’s most central brand is a massive understatement. The box set will set you back £16,830, but you can buy the pieces individually for around £5,065 each.
Cartier on the Prowl
And it’s not just the Swatch group that are at it! Arguably the massive conglomerate’s fiercest rival Richemont is stepping up to the plate with a reborn offering from the eighties.
The Cartier Panthère (medium size, set with diamonds pictured here for £110,000) is proof that this is not an exclusively male trend. What is most odd about the Panthère is the fact that it has its roots in the eighties – not often regarded as the most transcendent decade for luxury watch design due, of course, to the strength of quartz in that era. If, however, any brand knew how to ride the quartz wave it was famous French jeweller Cartier. There’s a myriad of models here priced between £3,000 and £110,000.
Another classic watch model, another tropical dial. Tag Heuer have created a watch that recalls the finest elements of the Autavia’s design.
On the back of a social media campaign run last year to find the favourite Autavia reference, TAG Heuer have wisely reverted to the pre-1985 mononymic dial and created a watch that is clearly full of Heuer DNA. It’s a lovely piece and a great story, retailer for a shade under £4,000. And if these releases are anything to go by, one of the frontline of throwback pieces we’ll see in 2017.
About the Author
Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.
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