• May : 16 : 2012 - Frederique Constant Creates a Line of Luxury Watches for Girls
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  • May : 2 : 2012 - Richard Mille RM 051 Watch Designed with Datuk Michelle Yeoh
  • May : 1 : 2012 - Old School Watches Making a Comeback

Watchmakers Reluctant to Show Their Wild Side

Economy concerns stifle innovations in watchmaking.

These last few years have been hard on many markets, but usually the best way to gauge where the world is in regards to their pocketbooks is to look at the timepieces on their wrists.

Many people have noticed that many of the brand new watch designs released for this year look exactly like the styles that came out 50 years ago. It seems that when people start becoming deliberate with their money, designers of luxury watches cling to tradition to show their long and illustrious heritage.

But the principal problem with the industry is its obsession with legitimacy and provenance. Legitimacy is what the Swiss industry calls a somewhat ephemeral blend of history, heritage, pedigree, success and watchmaking competence. A sufficient sum total of these things and you’re considered one of the top brands. Falter in any one or two and you’re either a has-been or a pretentious upstart pulling wool over naive buyers’ eyes. Without legitimacy nobody will take you seriously, you’ll have lower pricing power and your booth will remain mostly empty during watch fairs. From brands that sit at the apex of the Swiss watch business, like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Breguet, right down to the three-man, start-up operations that come and go every year, the industry is obsessed with history and heritage. Every brand likes to talk about how it was founded in the 1800s or how it first sold a watch to the Sultan of the Ottoman Turks on special request.

What this creates is an amazing time for the “new guys” to slide in and really show the old school what they have to offer. Time-tested brands like Patek Philipe, Audemars Piguet, Rolex and others can rest on their laurels, but not for too much longer. The world craves innovation in watchmaking and will have to look to the upstarts to get their design fix.

The old school can survive whatever economic crisis befalls the world, but if you are looking for the next new classic, now might be the time to check out some of the brand new companies pushing the envelope in watch design.

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