A few years ago, talking about watch trends would have seemed a strange idea. Watches were eternal, classic; those that made them not concerned with things so transient as trends. However, since fashion houses have turned master watchmakers and more women buy timepieces as much for their accessorising powers as for their technical clout, brands have started to get seasonal. Colour palettes, the right decades to plunder for inspiration, the universally agreed correct case diameter are all elements that are now subject to change.
So, with blues making way for reds, sporty steel styles replacing bi-colours and couture references across the board, here’s four ways the watch industry is switching things up for 2020.
Square and rectangular watches have had their moments. Cartier popularised them for a time at the beginning of the 20th century when it launched the first-ever pilot’s watch, the Cartier Santos. Vacheron Constantin gave the style a boost in the 1950s with its cutely named Cioccolatone (Italian for square-shaped chocolate), but then everyone went round again, except for a few notable standouts (hello, Nomos). However, the angles are back for 2020 and now it’s hipper than ever to be square-ish.
Hermès’s iconic Cape Cod has been given a 21st century twist, thanks to a new hammered case and dial, while Baume & Mercier’s Hampton with its blue dial is the ideal holiday watch. Never not pushing the envelope, Cartier has decided to put a twist on things with its amazing Tank Asymétrique. First launched in 1937, the 2020 iteration is daring and chic. In other words, very French.
While watch brands attached to fashion maisons have long realised the merit in stealing from its own catwalks, this year Swiss brands have woken up to the inspiration to be found at fashion weeks. The first was Vacheron Constantin with its brand-new women’s collection Égérie. The unusual font designed for the numerals was inspired by the name labels stitched into the back of couture gowns, while the pleated guilloche on the dial took its cues from the art of plisse, or paper pleating, which is also used in couture.
Chanel’s horlogerie department has always been happy steal from its couture cousins. Its Code Coco watch was a homage to the clasp of its 2.55, which it has updated this year in thoroughly decadent beige gold with diamond ‘pixels’. Equally fabulous is this year’s Dior Grand Bal Plume. The inverse rotor was designed to mimic the swish of a Dior ballgown, and, for 2020 Dior has used specific haute-couture feather-making techniques to create a diamond-embroidered ‘petticoat’ adorned with rare natural feathers.
Blue’s grip as the colour du jour seems to be slowly loosening. There was a smattering of green around, but it seems as though the more discerning brands are opting for red.
Never one to shy away from a bold hue, Jaeger-LeCoultre went all out with its Reverso in a wonderful wine-red. The real achievement here is the richness of the dial colour, which is all down to the application of multiple layers of lacquer over sunray guilloche. Also opting for a winning combination of red dial, red strap and a lot of diamonds is Piaget with its Altiplano. The Altiplano has been the collection in which Piaget has conducted its experiments in thinness – it’s latest, the Ultimate Concept, has a case just 2mm thick – but this year it has taken on some of the Limelight’s haute joaillerie flamboyance with fabulous results.
Red doesn’t always need diamonds to be dynamic as this IWC proves. You just need pared-back lines, bold proportions and a touch of Portugieser swagger.
When it comes to women’s watches the term “sport” is applied very loosely indeed. That a Chopard with dancing diamonds is considered a sports watch proves the point. Basically, we’re talking something with a bracelet, usually in steel that you’d probably retire before cocktail hour. And there have been some fabulous examples of that this summer.
First up was Zenith, which unveiled its Defy Midnight in Dubai in January this year – a design that was all clean lines and edgy femininity. Continuing with the flirtation between masculine and feminine, Breitling surprised everyone with the Navitimer 35, a pilot’s watch complete with slide rule, that women could wear. Finally, Cartier’s Maillon de Cartier. Yes, it’s in white gold not steel, but it’s just the sort of chic, French take on a sports’ watch you’d expect from this Maison. And dancing the night away L’Arc can be considered exercise, right?