What does “contemporary design” mean in an industry that perennially looks backward?
It’s a serious question for watchmakers, most of whom are traditionalists at heart. (Compare the dominant aesthetic in modern wristwatches with pocket watches created 500 years ago; other than their shrinking diameters, little has changed.)
Today’s boom in sales of vintage watches, as well as new models that pay tribute to classic timepieces, has only exacerbated the industry’s tendency to repeat its own design history. “With most big makers, more than 50 percent of their models are heavily inspired by their own past — because they sell,” said Aurel Bacs, a senior watch consultant at the auction house Phillips.
He listed the most obvious examples: the 1917 Cartier Tank, the 1957 Omega Speedmaster, the 1963 Rolex Daytona, the 1972 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the 1976 Patek Philippe Nautilus, all models that remain in production and continue to generate millions of dollars in sales.
But how about the current era? What will be remembered? We asked a group of industry insiders to assess the past quarter century of wristwatch design and identify the models that have had an effect on all kinds of watches, from Seiko to Swiss.
Read more about the 10 Watches that changed what’s on your wrist, on the New York Times website HERE