Watch brands don’t like to think that they are affected by the whimsies of fashion, but whether it is a result of the hive mind or because timepieces are just as much an accessory as a new bag, every year certain styles end up being more popular than others.
If you’re looking to use the change of seasons as a reason to invest in a new wrist adornment; save yourself from strapping on a dud by taking a look at our pick of the the top watch trends that have emerged in recent months.
If ever there was proof that watches and fashion follow a similar path, it’s this season’s line-up of retro reissues. One man’s bum bag is another man’s Bremont. “Vintage- and heritage-inspired timepieces and smaller case sizes continue to prevail,” says Simon Spiteri, accessories buyer at Mr Porter. “It is a style that makes for a subtle extension to a guy’s outfit while being practical and functional in use.”
Take Rado’s Hyperchrome Captain Cook, which is a straight-up repeat of a watch from 1962, with very few concessions to the 21st century. Opting for reinterpretation rather than reissue is Oris’s Chronoris Date. The original was a chronograph, and while this still has the tonneau-shaped case of the original, the stop-seconds chrono has been replaced with an inner rotating bezel instead. And, as the name would suggest, the Longines Heritage 1945 is based on an original from the post-wartime era. It’s a classic piece of vintage styling subtly updated for the modern day.
However, if you want a true piece of history on your wrist, look no further than Omega’s Speedmaster Moon Watch, which has completed six space missions over its lifetime. “This manual winding chronograph features the same 1861 movement found in the 1969 original worm by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin,” says Mike Toulson, a buyer for luxury retailer Watches of Switzerland. “It’s a historically significant watch that will never go out of style.”
Shades Of Grey
While it may not sound like the most exciting of colour trends, in the right hands grey can give a watch a subtle personality change, one that makes dress styles a little less austere and lends day wearers a touch more elegance.
Take the Timex Allied – in black, it would look too menacing, and in steel, it would look like any other watch, yet the gunmetal hue gives the military details like the 24-hour dial a less sporty feel, allowing it to slot effortlessly into a variety of looks.
With the Hawley model from US-based Ingersoll, the colour performs a different function. Most brands would set the very traditional elements on the dial against a white backdrop to emphasise the historical influences. But here, the storm-cloud shade brings a touch of modernity, which stops it looking too staid, which is not a word you could use to describe Junghans’ Meister Driver, either. A piece of automotive-inspired brilliance, the fact that it’s grey is just an added bonus.
Brush off your braces and dig out your contrast-collar shirts because bimetallic watches are back. A staple of the 1980s, two-tone designs fell out of favour in subsequent decades thanks to a slight whiff of naffness. But this year, more brands are getting bi-curious again.
One of the most interesting adopters of this trend is Tudor. It’s a name more associated with rugged outdoorsy watches, but the brand has given its iconic Black Bay model a rather natty steel and gold bracelet. It works, and not just because David Beckham proved it’s a timepiece capable of being worn with everything from a denim shirt to a suit.
Bimetal watches have strong corporate-office vibes, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Despite being conceived in the 1970s, Girard-Perregaux’s Laureato in titanium and pink gold is pure 1980s panache (you can practically smell the cigars). And, of course, Rolex – the brand that defined 1980s bicolour – has got in on the act, giving its Sky Dweller a streak of gold through the bracelet. As Toulson rightly says: “You can’t go wrong with a Rolex.”
Blue dials have had a stranglehold on the watch world’s colour wheel over the past few years, but the grip seems to be weakening.
One of the alternative hues that designers across the watch and wardrobe worlds have flirted with this year is green. Granted, it’s not as easy to wear as blue, but deployed correctly it can add a much-needed lift to a look – and it says ‘money’ even if the price tag doesn’t require much.
Triwa’s combination of gold, green and brown leather comes in at a little more than £150. At the other end of the scale, Omega’s Seamaster Aquaterra 2017 Golf, with its green-and-black striped strap and second-hand accent, is a great way to dip your toe in this trend. As is Calvin Klein’s City watch, thanks to subtle olive dial.
However, if you want to go the whole hog then look no further than Piaget’s Altiplano with green dial and coordinating green strap. Just don’t match your outfit as well – Robin Hood is no one’s style icon.
The Quartz Comeback
Quartz watches have undergone a bit of a rep-rehabilitation in the last couple of years. Once looked down on by watch snobs as lacking craftsmanship, the new generation is eschewing the dubious build quality of its predecessors in pursuit of something more luxurious.
Pick a mid-table brand like Maurice Lacroix or Junghans and you’ll see robust, well-designed watches that are still several degrees more affordable than the majority of mechanical timepieces out there; and they’re handsome, too.
If you’re after quirky, there’s Kickstarter brand Klokers, which displays the time using circular discs that rotate past each other. It also has a detachable head, so you’re not confined to wearing it on your wrist.
For a classic alternative, German design brand Braun recently revived its Bauhaus-inspired quartz, the AW10, while in Blighty we have Sekford. The brainchild of Port magazine creative director Kuchar Swara, it is beautifully designed, has butter-soft calf-leather straps – “itself a trend”, Spiteri says – and boasts a proprietary font, all making it so good looking, you really don’t care what makes it tick.
It used to be enough for a smartwatch to simply keep track of your heart rate and tell you when your mum was calling, but now function also needs to come with form.
Tag Heuer led the charge when it transformed its smartwatch from Connected to Modular, allowing wearers to create their own timepiece from a variety of straps and watch heads. After that, subsequent launches had to adhere to both definitions of the word ‘smart’.
“Smartwatch offerings from Montblanc and Kingsman x Tag Heuer have been extremely popular this year,” says Spiteri. The former’s Summit model, based on the classic stylings of the brand’s 1858, is designed to appeal to the traveller, while Louis Vuitton’s Tambour Horizon seems ideally suited to an outfit involving slightly crumpled linen.
At a slightly more affordable price point, the Connect from fashion label Guess is begging to be teamed with chunky boots and raw denim.
A proper diving watch is quite a specific piece of kit, which is why it usually means going deep into your pocket to buy one. However, recently big-name firms have produced launches that tick all the boxes – watches that work at proper depths, have a unidirectional bezel and superluminosity (all terms that will make you sound endlessly cool – but at prices that won’t make you jump off the nearest bridge).
Mid-level brands like Hamilton offer impressive depth: its Frogman range, for example, will keep ticking at 1000m. Luminox, a brand worn by Navy Seals, is also renowned for doing affordable divers well and its Deep Dive is no exception – itself good to 500m.
However, it isn’t the most versatile of pieces, unlike Seiko’s reinterpretation of its 1965 classic Prospex, which effortlessly combines style and function. The same could be said of relative newcomer Farer’s first foray into diver’s watches. Capable of plummeting to 300m and with a seriously cool tonneau-shaped case, take it to the coast and make everyone green at the gills.
Skeletons In The Closet
There is a touch of the Marmite about skeleton dials – some people love the view they give of a watch’s inner workings, others find the sight of skin and arm hairs a little stomach churning.
If you’re in the former camp, you’ll be pleased to know that timepieces with this unique design detail don’t have to cost a small fortune, with even brands like Rotary at the high street end of the budget offering eye-catching models.
Coming in at just over £200, Fossil has gone for a semi-skeleton on its Townsman, which solves the traditional problem of legibility, while slightly higher up the scale is a rather more industrial offering from Tissot. However, if you’re going to spend the big bucks, then it’s hard to resist Zenith’s latest addition to the El Primero family. Scarily accurate, undeniably cool and, thanks to the way the movement is open-worked, no arm hairs in sight.
Like all the best duos, cars and watches are a perfect pairing. They inspire levels of obsession, geekery and fanboy behaviour unseen with any other luxury purchase. And these collaborations also produce some of the most directional timepieces around.
Recent brands to hitch a ride together include Zenith and Range Rover, and Roger Dubuis and Lamborghini. The latter sees a pimped version of the Excalibur watch, modified with the supercar’s award-winning carbon composite called C-SMC carbon.
Opting for a less generic approach is Singer’s Track1 Chronograph. The custom car firm is known for its reimagining of the Porsche 911 and now its founder Rob Dickinson, working with watch designer Marco Borraccino and watchmaker extraordinaire Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, has updated the chronograph, placing the complication at the centre of the dial and having a peripheral time display.
Also playing with time display is the Bulgari Octo Maserati GranLusso, which has a jumping hour and retrograde minute scale, all expertly highlighted in Maserati’s Blu Inchiostro colourway. The downside is that it’s only available to owners of the car. Time to start saving…