After two rather startling years of slowdown (since reversed, it should be said), you can forgive Switzerland’s watchmakers for hunkering down and limiting change to trend-led facelifts and subtle tweaks, rather than the research and development budget-draining mechanical wizardry of the Noughties. But while the innovation may be dial-thin, the impact of this more considered, market-led approach has been remarkable. Indeed, in contrast to the recent moods permeating the boardrooms of the Swiss Jura mountains, the facelifts of 2017 have amounted to a veritable pick ‘n’ mix of exuberant colour pops, from regal blue to acid-house yellow and camo’ green.
One particular colour, however, was a distinct rose tint – soundtracked by the rusty creak of archives being wrenched open and raided, to instantly satisfying effect. Just as with all the reassuringly nostalgic advertising and ‘Keep Calm…’ tea towels we’re still enduring following the financial crash (no doubt drawn out by Brexit et al.), both the Baselworld and Geneva watch fairs threw up vintage reissues and retro throwbacks by the wristful. And the results are quite simply fabulous. As with furniture, architecture, fashion and cars, watch design’s mid-century period was its most accomplished and simply downright cool. Plus, as TAG Heuer so succinctly bills its Heritage collection, ‘vintage watches never go out of fashion’.