Adam Craniotes is a lifelong watch collector, senior moderator on Timezone.com, and a contributing writer for numerous publications, such as iW Magazine, Gear Patrol, and Supercompressor. Adam is our ace on all things horological and can be yours, too. If you seek consult on a purchase, or just want to know more about a watch that’s struck your fancy, schedule some time with Adam and pick his marvelous brain.
Given the sheer number of manufactures out there, and the seemingly fickle tastes of the buying public, predicting trends in the watch industry can be a fraught business, yet over the course of the past year a number of trends revealed themselves. As we bid farewell to Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) and turn our eyes to Baselworld (the watch industry’s two major trade events) let’s take a look at the direction the marketplace has been moving.
Thin Is In
For the longest time, the true measure of the prowess of a manufacture was how slim a watch they could produce, which lead to pieces like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” of the early 70’s—which still boasts the thinnest self-winding mechanical movement—yet in recent times the pendulum has swung the opposite direction, with a proliferation of overtly masculine designs that flaunt their large diameter and imposing height just as the ultra-thin models from the past did with their seemingly impossible thinness. (In a somewhat ironic turn, it was Audemars that helped to usher in the era of the big watch with their reboot of the Royal Oak, the Royal Oak Offshore). While the Royal Oak Jumbo still exists in Audemars’ portfolio, a number of modern pieces have also picked up the mantle, with the Piaget Altiplano being foremost among them. In fact, at a mere 3.65mm thick, the Altiplano 900P is now the thinnest mechanical watch made, eclipsing the former record holder, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-thin Jubilee by almost half a millimeter.
Classic is as Classic Does
The past several years have seen manufactures push the boundaries of style with increasingly outlandish designs and large case sizes. And while we’ll stop short of declaring the big watch trend over—if for no other reason than that it has long since ceased to be a trend and become a genre unto itself—manufactures are returning to their roots with vintage-inspired designs and more traditional dial layouts. Baume et Mercier’s handsome Clifton collection exemplifies this sea change perfectly.
Chronographs are Cool
It seems like every major manufacture introduced a new chronograph this past year, and for good reason; the chronograph (“time writer” in Greek) is one of the most accessible and useful complications that a watch can have. Omega’s Mark II Speedmaster and Blancpain’s Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph are two excellent examples of this resurgence, with the Omega also illustrating the push for more classic designs (it’s a re-issue of a vintage design that was popular in the early 70’s).
While it’s too early to tell if the manufactures will continue in their current direction, all indications are that we’ll be seeing a doubling-down of the above trends. Still, at the end of the day, the best watch is the one that puts the biggest smile on your face, which is exactly as it should be.
By the way, you can also find Adam Craniotes holding court at Manhattan’s weekly watch society Red Bar. Go there, and tell ’em Eleven James sent you.