Wrist watches and pocket watches have been around for centuries without much change in aesthetic because of tradition and watchmakers know what sells. Vintage watch sales are going strong, and designers are constantly looking to the past for inspiration. Through the last few decades some designers have broken the mold by trying something new – sometimes with great effect of future watch designs. Here are ten contemporary watches that have made some kind of impact of watches.
1. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore (1993)
Audemars Piguet was the first to come out with the super size watches that have become popular. The Royal Oak Offshore “The Beast” has a 42mm by 15mm thick case that weighed over half a pound and was new territory for watch sizes. After this watch came more and more heavy and masculine timepieces and was definitely a trend setter.
2. A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 (1994)
3. Vianney Halter Antiqua (1998)
4. F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance (2000)
5. Richard Mille RM 001 (2001)
6. Ulysse Nardin Freak (2001)
This watch doesn’t have a dial, a crown, or traditional hour and minute hands. Instead it features a large minute hand that doubles as the movement with a rotating plate to act as the hour hand. The case is made with silicon, which eliminates the need for oil in the mechanical watch, was a first in watchmaking. Another first was the way you set the time, but rotating the bezel instead of the tried and true crown.
7. Urwerk UR-103 (2003)
8. MB&F HM4 (2010)
9. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon (2014)
10. Apple Watch (2014)
While not a traditional watch, this one makes the list because you can’t deny that is has had an impact on the watchmaking world. It design, user wear-ability, and ease have set the bar higher than ever on what a watch can and should do. It has even caused an increase in watch wearing in general, with 44% of adults in the US wearing a watch in 2015 to 55% of watch wearers in 2019. Plus, Apple Watch currently makes up about 60% of Swiss watch exports and expects to outsell the entire Swiss watch industry by volume by the end of 2019 according to some estimates.