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