While it’s true that technology is making the ‘traditional watch’ obsolete, what with smart watches, fitness trackers and even mobile phones all being able to replace the wristwatch, the fact remains that the watch industry as a whole is in pretty rude health – you’ve only got to see some of the prices to know that certain brands aren’t fearing a mass exodus to technology.
Further still, as brands try to capture more of the market, the product styling and offering gets wider; it’s no longer a choice of just one or two colours, with a strap or bracelet and mechanical or battery, you can buy a watch to suit pretty much any style, any occasion, or any ethos.
To a degree, that’s been true for a while – but things have moved on, lifestyle engineering is a thing, and that means a wider array of trinkets and baubles to display your devotion to a cause, or just shout that you’re a little bit different from the average Rolex, Oris, Omega (insert preferred brand here) wearer.
What’s New (Pussycat)
I’d have to say while researching this article, I’ve had a good look around the latest trends, fashions and ‘upcoming’ brands, even models to look out for, for 2019. It’s left me feeling … flat.
Yes, there are some ‘different’ watches available, but it seems to me that a number of these watches looking to mark themselves out as different are doing that just for the sake of it. Take the Oris Divers Sixty-Five for example – Oris have taken a classic dive watch, mixed in a little green credential in the form of ocean conservation and produced something that uses recycled plastic for the strap. All very admirable, but … is it a cheap, cynical ploy or a genuine thing to help the ocean?
It doesn’t get much better when you look at the Nixon A1091-3095; I understand that vintage Disney products are collectible, but to produce a Mickey Mouse watch that looks as though it could be picked up from the local market for a week’s worth of a child’s pocket money, and then charge £150? It would certainly be a talking point, mark you out as different, but being different doesn’t necessarily have to mean odd.
And it isn’t about spending money either, in fact, it would seem that the more money you spend, the more ‘out there’ you can be – can anyone forget the monstrosity that is the Hublot ‘LaFerrari’ MP-05? Yes, it’s exquisitely detailed, the engineering is so beautiful that you could cry, I could stare at the internals for hours, taking in every single detail, but let’s be honest, visually, it’s the ugly duckling. And at nearly half-a-million dollars, surely it’s been designed for one thing only; “I’m powerful & wealthy” (some may say like most Ferrari accessories).
We’ve dealt with the ugly, so let’s look at the good (there is no bad!).
I think I may be in the minority; I wear a fitness tracker on one wrist (that does everything a regular watch will do) and a watch on my other. The reason being is that a watch can say a lot, either about you as a person, or about your style, your aspirations … a fitness tracker is just that – a tool, with no personality, and no defined style, it’s utilitarian.
Thankfully, the Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch is on hand to change all of that; beautiful, classic design, with the features of a high-end smartwatch – fitness tracking, notifications, coaching, cloud back-up and more, and at around £1,000, it’s not too far away from some of the more … high street … offerings.
I’d also like to give an honourable mention to Bremont, a very young, very English brand that seems to draw on the past glories of the Brit’s with their historically styled timepieces. They’ve encapsulated some of the very best bits of the British nation, with styling inspired by WWII aircraft, classical Jaguar sports cars … it’s almost like a history lesson on your wrist.