Look­ing back at the best de­sign-led time­pieces from 2017

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Contents -

Rel­a­tive aus­ter­ity has in­spired a trend for trawl­ing back cat­a­logues for de­signs to re­vive

As the year’s end ap­proaches, we look back at the changes and trends in the watch world, be­fore giv­ing credit to those that re­ally stood out.

From an in­dus­try per­spec­tive, Swiss watch ex­ports rose steadily over the sum­mer, and the Chi­nese mar­ket was resur­gent, up more than 20 per cent year-on-year. Closer to home, the fall­ing pound has made Lon­don one of the most at­trac­tive places to buy lux­ury watches; no Brexit woes for the likes of Watches of Switzer­land or Sel­fridges’ Won­der Room (now run by Euro­pean re­tail gi­ant Bucherer).

Cau­tion has been the name of the game for many watch brands in 2017; the re­sult of cut­backs over the past two years was that this year’s crop of watches fo­cused on aes­thet­ics rather than tech­ni­cal de­vel­op­ments, as well as lower prices. The cause may be unin­spir­ing but the watches have been re­fresh­ingly sim­ple – maybe the mar­ket had be­come bloated from com­pli­cated watch mak­ing.

This rel­a­tive aus­ter­ity has helped cre­ate the dom­i­nant trend for trawl­ing the back cat­a­logues for de­signs to re­vive. This has only in­ten­si­fied, bring­ing with it stand­out watches such as Blanc­pain’s Trib­ute to Fifty Fath­oms Mil-Spec, as well as less well-known reis­sues.

The bulk of new watches may have lit­tle that’s new in­side them, but in­stead of the kind of“in­no­va­tion”we were used to when busi­ness was boom­ing (ever­more in­tri­cate and ar­cane whirligigs for oli­garchs) we are see­ing a hand­ful of brands mod­ernising the basics of a me­chan­i­cal move­ment. Pan­erai’s Lab-ID is one such pro­ject, boast­ing ground­break­ing reli­a­bil­ity, and there have been sim­i­lar ef­forts from Zenith with its Defy Lab. A lit­tle com­mer­cial pres­sure is no bad thing.


All-ac­tion sports chrono­graphs were everywhere this year, from Tu­dor’s Her­itage Black Bay Chrono to Blanc­pain’s Fifty Fath­oms Bathyscaphe. But my pick is the TAG Heuer Autavia – specif­i­cally, here in a guise cre­ated to com­mem­o­rate leg­endary for­mer CEO and hon­orary chair­man Jack Heuer’s 85th birth­day. It swaps the nor­mal bezel, all easy-to-read nu­mer­als, for a slightly more techy steel one and, as a re­sult, looks bet­ter on a steel bracelet. Re­viv­ing the Autavia was a stroke of mar­ket­ing ge­nius on TAG’s part (if not an overly risky de­ci­sion) but it has been ex­e­cuted with a sure hand. £4,150; tagheuer.com


Mak­ing a watch that you could wear day in, day out and have no com­plaints sounds like such a sim­ple prospect – in­deed, it’s what most peo­ple look for. But sim­plic­ity is a hard thing to get right; this year, IWC has nailed it with the Ingenieur Au­to­matic, which sees the model re­turn to a round case af­ter an over­sized, chunky phase. £3,900; iwc.com


Even the most sea­soned watch col­lec­tors start some­where, and if you’re tak­ing your first step into me­chan­i­cal watches this year, you could do a lot worse than the Junghans Form A: an au­to­matic move­ment, hand­some looks rooted in mid­cen­tury de­sign at an ap­proach­able price, and, as an added bonus, it’s un­likely all of your friends will have one. £830; junghans.de


By now we shouldn’t be sur­prised at any­thing Hublot does, but putting a hound­stooth cloth across the dial of a Clas­sic Fu­sion, and con­tin­u­ing the same ma­te­rial into the strap? Like wear­ing dou­ble denim, it ab­so­lutely shouldn’t work – yet in this case, it ab­so­lutely does. The ce­ramic chrono­graph is my un­ex­pected hit of the year. £13,300; hublot.com

Above: Blanc­pain Trib­ute to Fifty Fath­oms Left: Pan­erai Lab-ID Lu­mi­nor 1950 Car­botech

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