Makers of premium watches really know how to pay their dues to their traditions. And what better way to pay homage to classic watch designs than to release new watches based on the old ones? Here are three commemorative timepieces that were adapted from classic designs, only more modern, advanced and expensive.
A Twenties Timepiece
The first of the three watches is a design straight out of the Roaring Twenties: the Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921. It hearkens back to a time when cars were still a fairly new invention, and the ‘modern’ aesthetic was very different from the one we have today.
It owes its distinctive cushion shape – the square with its sides bulging slightly outward – and its unusual orientation to its time context. This design was one of the first to be called a ‘driver’s watch,’ a timepiece designed specifically for automobile drivers. Tilting the whole thing to 1 o’clock allowed drivers to tell time with both hands on the wheel.
The commemorative collection from prestigious Audemars Piguet is, unsurprisingly, named Tradition. This same collection got quite a few updates at SIHH 2009, most notably the Tradition Perpetual Calendar Minute Repeater.
Like the Vacheron Constantin tribute, this Audemars Piguet watch commemorates one of their earlier designs – a pocket watch with the same cushion shape from 1923. Cushion contours were apparently a big thing back in the 1920’s, and big names like AP seem to be making it just as big a trend almost a century later.
A Vintage Haul
Even high-end watch companies usually limit their commemorative releases to just one or two models. Schaffhausen, Switzerland-based International Watch Company, more popularly IWC, releases not just one or two but six updates to some of their oldest and most timeless designs. Going in chronological order, they revived
- The Special Pilot’s Watch, a design first released in 1936;
- The Portuguese, whose first incarnation debuted in 1939;
- The Ingenieur, a watch dating all the way back to 1955;
- The Aquatimer, a popular creation from 1967;
- The Da Vinci, first released in 1969; and
- The Portofino, an iconic design from 1984
It’s no wonder that IWC should revive those six designs in particular. They were some of the company’s most popular models, and each one helped cement IWC’s reputation as a purveyor of high-end timepieces.
Even if 2009 marks some of the most modern advances in timekeeping technology, it’s also a great year for combining horology and history.