By Nirja Dutt
The world of horology is having a serious case of deja vu, from classics that first made headway in the 70s to watches that were pathbreaking in the years that preceded them, somehow a re-edition seems to be the mood off-late. Let’s dive a little deeper to witness what’s going on here and why brands are going back in time.
The time for reliving the past seems to have taken over the current world order. With sustainability being an overused thought, the idea of re-owning what was once golden has taken over. Needless to say, a modern staple will never stop breaking the glass ceiling but it’s the pieces that evoke a sense of nostalgia that are truly going viral. While fashion is perhaps always one to start a trend, think Chanel’s tweeds or Sabyasachi’s exploration of India’s golden era, this time the watch world seems to have caught onto this very trend and in the most interesting way possible. For an industry that sells seizing your own hours with a story to match, the winning combination is definitely today is ‘retro’.
Take a look at the auction market off late, watches are reaching record-breaking sales for vintage pieces including the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication which was first seen in 1933 and has broken its own record twice in the auction where it was last sold for $24 million (INR 1,99,44,66,000 approximately) at Sotheby’s. Rolex has officially announced that they will provide guarantees for resales with a certificate and a ‘pre-owned seal’ ensuring that the purchase made is the real deal. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, brands and platforms have aptly switched strategies to make sure that this idea of reclaiming the past is now a part of their DNA.
Think about the lineup this year, all the watches that have truly caught our attention are what we’ve seen in the past, including the Cartier Baignoire, Zenith Defy Revival, Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, IWC Ingenieur, Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute, the Panerai Radiomir the list goes on.. Somehow these classics have been repackaged and even got audiences to believe that they are even better than before.
Then vs Now
When you think about what was the golden era of watchmaking, the answer is almost muddled, some might believe it was the days when stalwarts like Patek Philippe were bridging the gap with masterful complications like the world timer, others argue and say it’s perhaps the days of Gerald Genta in the 60s and 70s where he literally broke the code of how watches were traditionally crafted making them mere objects of creativity. There is also another school of thought that predominantly suggests it today, now, here, where we have the best of everything including access to every material, a library of complications, and mediums like the digital scape to have a relationship with the customer one on one, and the possibilities are unarguably, endless.
I’m not sure which one is right but here’s a retro-spective into what three creations looked like when they were first made vs their current counterparts (almost identical). For me, the best way to describe this phenomenon is ‘vintage current’. The watches house the best of yesteryear and are armed with the knowledge, know-how, and artistry of the current horology scape, empowering pieces that are perfect for the now.
ZENITH DEFY REVIVAL
ROLEX COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA
All in all, the one thing that will never lose its value as a luxury product is a great story, and what better than presenting a path-breaking one from decades ago? It’s an immediate win-win.