There are big ones and small ones, even some that the companies themselves weren’t aware of! 2017 is shaping up to be a landmark year for watchmaking, with a bumper crop of anniversaries to celebrate.
Some of them need little introduction. Hermès, for example, was founded in 1837, which makes this year its 180th birthday. The company is a shining example of longevity and growth. The modest Parisian workshop has become a multi-faceted luxury goods brand active in couture, leather goods and perfumes, not forgetting watchmaking. The brand created by Thierry Hermès in 1837 is still majority-owned by the family, and boasts an annual turnover of around 5 billion euros. And it all began with a saddle!
Cartier, which has followed a similar trajectory, celebrates its 170th anniversary this year. No false modesty is required to recount the company’s journey from its modest beginnings in 1847, when a humble jeweller’s apprentice took over his master’s workshop. Cartier has gone from adorning the crowned heads of Europe to a globally recognised multi-million-dollar brand and business empire.
Finally, the house of Dior celebrates its 70th birthday this year. Although its watchmaking workshops are far newer (2001), the aura of the mother brand has certainly helped its watch collections, particularly the Chiffre Rouge range, to cement their reputation in record time.
A Jurassic jubilee
Few trajectories have been as spectacular, but there is one more, of a similar scale and a similar age: Longines. The company, which was founded exactly 185 years ago, will devote considerable effort in the second half of the year to celebrating the milestone.
From its original vocation as a sports timing specialist, Longines has grown into one of the world’s biggest watch brands, producing more than a million timepieces per year, distributed worldwide to a customer base that comprises 50% women. With the company’s vast archives to draw upon, we can expect a plethora of anniversary models. Longines has chosen to focus on one model in particular, which commemorates Charles Lindbergh’s first transatlantic flight 90 years ago. The “Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch” will be available in a limited edition of 90.
Bovet, on the other hand, is celebrating its 195th anniversary. Although Edouard Bovet (who would have been 220 this year!) first dipped his toe into watchmaking a few years earlier, it was in 1822 that he went into partnership with his brothers Alphonse, Frédéric and Gustave to sell watches in China. The first contract signed by the Bovet company was registered in London on the 1st May of that year. The business expanded rapidly, and manufacturing operations were transferred to Fleurier, very close to where the company still makes its watches today, in Môtiers.
We wish many happy returns also to Eberhard & Co., an independent watchmaker that is perhaps less well known, though still highly prized by collectors. It celebrates its 130th birthday this year. Not many people know that Eberhard was responsible for some major milestones in watchmaking history. The company has filed patents for advances in time setting (1894), hour display (1905) and dust and humidity protection (1921), to name just a few.
New kids on the block
It would be impossible to list all of this year’s anniversaries, but there are a few more that deserve a mention. Bulgari Time, for instance, was founded exactly 35 years ago. Since then, the Italian company has built a reputation that vies with those of the biggest watchmakers, with its distinctive Roman style and acknowledged technical flair, particularly in the domain of ultra-thin watches.
Alongside these illustrious forebears Anonimo, which is a sprightly 20 years old, is something of a new kid on the block. Its current trajectory nevertheless confirms that it is on the right track and, one hopes, destined for a long and healthy life. Although it started life bearing a striking resemblance to Officine Panerai, Anonimo has become more confident in its own stylistic identity and technical approach. The brand that made a deliberate choice to be recognised for its creations rather than its name has now conquered many markets, particularly since it converted to Swiss Made in 2013.
Anniversary models aplenty
And it’s not just the brands whose anniversaries we are celebrating – individual watches are also getting in on the action. The Fifty Fathoms, created in the 1950s, had its first major reissue just ten years ago, in 2007, under the impetus of Marc Hayek. Since then, the legendary timepiece has reasserted itself as a truly iconic diving watch.
Its slightly older counterpart, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, was seen for the first time 45 years ago. This year, the women’s version also celebrates its 40th birthday. Girard-Perregaux’ iconic tourbillon with three gold bridges is 130 years old this year. And Piaget already broke out the champagne for the 60th anniversary of the Altiplano at this year’s SIHH.
2017 will also be a big year for TAG Heuer. The company celebrates 55 years of the Autavia, which returned to Basel with great fanfare. It’s also the 10th anniversary of the Link collection, and Jack Heuer’s 85th birthday.
Women can celebrate the 5th year of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Rendez-Vous collection. These watches have been spectacularly successful since their introduction in 2012, consistently ranking among the company’s best-selling women’s watches.
Other, higher-end Tank versions include variants on the shape and layout, as well as alternatives such as fancier motions and precious metals. Sportier options can be found in the Santos and MC families. But, all of these are more expensive than the entry-level Cartier Watches 750 Price Replica Tank Solo XL Automatic.A lot of other manufacturers offer square and rectangular watches which are at least influenced by the Cartier Tank, although few are very powerful, it seems. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is, of course, another major rectangular, Art Deco watch on the market, but it is more expensive and actually provides a somewhat different charm. And I have never found one that fits me just like the Cartier Tank Solo XL Automatic does! In case your Cartier Tank option must be rectangular, please try it on first since it’s far more difficult to get proportions and fit right than with a round watch.Another way of looking at the Cartier Tank Solo XL Automatic will see its rivals as standard dress-style mechanical watches in the $3,000-$4,000 range, around or otherwise. Dress-style watch options exist for just about any budget. For those on a much tighter budget, we suggested Orient’s apparel watches and looked at a couple of these. I look forward to readers’ tips.