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Vin­tage De­sign

Good de­sign does not date. e cur­rent pop­u­lar­ity of new watch mod­els that are based on older mod­els is com­monly re­ferred to as be­ing “vin­tage in­spired” by watch jour­nal­ists. Yet many watch com­pa­nies have been put­ting out mod­els for decades with lit­tle change in their ba­sic de­sign. For ex­am­ple, Jaegerlecoul­tre’s Rev­erso has been around since the 1930s, IWC’S Mark pi­lot watches since the 1940s, Rolex’s Sub­mariners since the 1950s, and there are many more ex­am­ples. e en­tire in­ven­tory of Pan­erai time­pieces are ba­si­cally old de­signs, but still beau­ti­ful to many peo­ple. How­ever, th­ese mod­els are not com­monly thought of as be­ing vin­tage, per­haps be­cause they have been in con­tin­ual pro­duc­tion for so long.

All of th­ese time­pieces have changed very lit­tle in de­sign be­cause they were great de­signs to be­gin with and they con­tinue to ap­peal to many cus­tomers. In fact, al­most any me­chan­i­cal watch made to­day is ba­si­cally a vin­tage prod­uct, which ac­counts for some of their ap­peal.

e ba­sics of how a me­chan­i­cal watch works have changed very lit­tle in a cou­ple of hun­dred years and the in­dus­try is just es­sen­tially rein­vent­ing the wheel one way or an­other. ere is no planned ob­so­les­cence in a me­chan­i­cal watch; it re­mains an un­usual and beau­ti­ful anachro­nism in a mod­ern world. Per­haps call­ing any me­chan­i­cal watch “vin­tage” is miss­ing the point. Ju­lian Karch­mer North Carolina

Chal­leng­ing Times

You are on to some­thing when you quoted Nick Hayek (Watchtime Au­gust 2017 “Chal­leng­ing Times”) as say­ing he is not wor­ried about the Swatch brands. Brands with no­to­ri­ety and good will from large groups may see slim growth this year; it is the smaller fringe/in­de­pen­dent brands you have seen that will sadly and ul­ti­mately end up ex­tinct. I pre­dict the big groups may pivot strate­gies with cer­tain brands in their port­fo­lios or spin them off. As a re­tailer of over 20 brands in Bos­ton, we have seen in­creased sales be­gin­ning re­ally in the sec­ond quar­ter of this year, not from all brands, but cer­tainly a key hand­ful. From brand ex­ecu- tives I have spo­ken with this year, Jean-claude Biver, who be­lieves his brand TAG Heuer will see 1 per­cent, pos­si­bly 2 per­cent growth this year, as well out­go­ing Richemont CO-CEO Richard Lepeu at lunch this year, who was more op­ti­mistic, but didn't men­tion spe­cific num­bers ..., I am op­ti­mistic about this year, es­pe­cially head­ing into the fourth quar­ter .... Mr. Ru­pert is right when he says that there are just too many watches out there. My big ques­tion to you is how does a pub­lic com­pany (with a fidu­ciary obli­ga­tion to its share­hold­ers to con­tinue to pro­duce re­turns by sell­ing a lux­ury item such as a watch) main­tain a lux­ury ap­pear­ance? Brian Walker Bos­ton

New De­sign

I'll tell you one thing that hasn’t changed: the qual­ity of the print­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy. For in­stance, the tex­ture of the matte dial on the Tu­dor Black Bay Dark on page 72 [June 2017] is so vivid, it’s al­most like you can touch it. Re­ally, when I look at it, I ex­pect the sec­ond hand to start mov­ing. anks, Watchtime, keep up the great work. Scott Lalonde via email

Jump­ing the Shark

e down­ward trend in sales of the Swiss watch in­dus­try has sparked all sorts of analy­ses and ex­pla­na­tions. e state of the econ­omy in the dif­fer­ent mar­kets, pol­i­tics – as in the case of China – and smart­watches seem to be the pre­ferred cul­prits. How­ever, all too of­ten we fail to see the most ob­vi­ous rea­sons, per­haps be­cause of their im­me­di­acy.

In my case, the moment watches started grow­ing to dis­pro­por­tion­ate di­men­sions, lo­gos took over most of the dial’s real es­tate, cases mor­phed into all sorts of weird shapes, NATO straps be­came the rage, ser­vice be­came as ex­pen­sive as buy­ing a new watch and took for­ever, and prices went through the roof, my bank ac­count sky­rock­eted up­wards. I could no longer find a new watch I liked, one I would wear, one to warm my heart. In other words, when watches be­came ugly and vul­gar, I lost my in­ter­est in them.

In sum­mary, maybe, as in my case, peo­ple are not buy­ing Swiss watches be­cause they’ve jumped the shark, turn­ing to mas­sive, ugly and way too ex­pen­sive watches. I be­lieve it’s the prod­uct, not the mar­ket. As sim­ple as that. In­deed, they might just be over­think­ing their plight. Juan Men­dez S. via email

Cor­rec­tion:

e Bre­itling watch on page 126 of our Au­gust is­sue was iden­ti­fied in­cor­rectly. e watch is the Bre­itling Avenger Black­bird.

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