Despite all the doom and gloom we told you about last year, the watch industry is still here, still full of life, and still gearing up for the season when we get to see most of the new creations that will be hitting wrists this year. But 2016 is barely in the rearview mirror, so we thought it could be fun to think back about our favorite news and trends from last year, and, of course, let you know what we’re hoping to see in 2017. Here are some thoughts from our editorial team on the last and next 12 months in watches.
Cara Barrett, Editor
Favorite:Â My favorite thing in watches this year was â drumroll please â the return of the 36mm watch! There were a couple of these that graced our presence this year, specifically the Tudor Black Bay 36Â and the IWC Pilot’s watch 36mm. If you read my favorite watches from Baselworld, you will already know that I’m a fan of the Black Bay 36, but what I really love about both these watches is what they represent: a throwback to simpler times with well-designed and understated timepieces. To me, these two watches are beacons of hope in a sea of often over-sized and over-styled timepieces.
Hope:Â Predictably, I’m hoping that others will follow in Tudor and IWC’s foot steps in 2017. Call me a dreamer, but I hope for a watch world filled with gender-neutral, unlabeled, and unbiased 36mm watches for everyone. The Black Bay 36 looks good on both men and women, and proves that you don’t need fancy bells and whistles, just a well-priced, clean, modestly-sized, and good-looking watch.Â It’s time to get back to basics, people!
Jack Forster, Editor-in-Chief
Favorite: In a million years I would never wish hardships on anyone and for all the things that seem unsavory, or self-defeatingly short-sighted about the watch industry from time to time, it’s still full of people who work super hard at making great watches, in a world where there are definitely easier ways to make money. I wouldn’t say I loved the fact that the industry had a noticeable drop in business this year, but it’s led to a lot of things I do love. The Lange Saxonia 37 is one of them: actual haute horlogerie that isn’t so expensive you have to be a banker (and a pretty successful one) to be able to afford it.
Hope: What am I hoping for in 2017? More of the same. More sensible pricing and more of a recognition that, aside from the fact that trying to base an entire industry on the shifting whims of the ultra-rich may not be the hottest idea, it might also be a good idea to build real good will, based on delivering real value to customers. This would probably require shareholders to demonstrate the ability to delay gratification in the name of long-term stability and sustainable growth, but, you know, one miracle at a time.
Stephen Pulvirent, Managing Editor
Favorite:Â It’s sort of embarrassing to say, but 2016 was the year watch brands finally started to embrace…the internet. Yeah. I know. From A. Lange & SÃ¶hne launching an Instagram account last month to IWC beginning to sell watches through Mr. Porter, it seems like our conservative friends in the watchmaking community now understand that watch lovers of all sorts are using their iPhones and laptops to make purchasing decisions and actual purchases. I expect this to intensify over the next year or two and honestly can’t wait for it to become table stakes.
Hope:Â Now, if I had my everyday-thinking hat on, I’d agree with Mr. Forster and vote for more sensible pricing across the board. But I’m going to go the opposite direction here. I want watchmakers to go big. Like really big. I’m talking A. Lange & SÃ¶hne Grand Complication and Vacheron Constantin 57260 big. In 2014 and 2015, while brands were riding high, we got a lot of totally bonkers creations like these and I’d love to see a little optimism and get at least one more record-breaking mega watch to get our collective horology-loving hearts racing again.
Arthur Touchot, Senior European Editor
Favorite:Â I was really pleasantly surprised by what the jewelry and fashion houses presented this year. Chanel gave us a super in-house jumping hours watch in the Monsieur de ChanelÂ andÂ Bulgari broke the record for the slimmest minute repeaterÂ â but the biggest surprise is perhaps that I could see myself wear the hell out of both of these watches. I’m also a sucker for the new limited edition enamel dial Slim d’HÃ¨rmes, though that’s a bit less surprising.
Hope:Â We welcomed a couple of really well-executed reboots this past year. Personal highlights include Heuer’s new Monza, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Memovox, and Tudor’s new Pelagos Left-Hand Drive. I can’t see watch companies slowing down on this front (and I wouldn’t want them to), but what I’d really like to see now is watch companies rebooting iconic movements. Imagine if Omega had a caliber 321 in its current collection, or if Longines brought back the 13ZN. Now that would be seriously cool.
Louis Westphalen, Vintage Watch Specialist
Favorite: In 2016, I was really happy to see two great watches get even better. I was actually impressed to witness Rolex and Lange, two of the most conservative manufactures around, rethink existing models for the better. Respectively, the Explorer reference 214270 got longer hands more in line with its 39mm case while the Saxonia Thin was made available in a 37mm case, which both Stephen and I loved. I’m looking forward to seeing this trend progress, with brands working to improve the models they already have.
Hope:Â I’m wishing for the return of the true dress watch. Chronographs definitely owned 2016 and as a result dress watches did not get that much love, despite some solid releases between the blue-dialed Slim d’HermÃ¨s, the new Rolex Cellini, and the Breguet Classique reference 7147. For 2017, I have a lot of expectations from the upcoming 60th anniversary Piaget Altiplano collectionÂ (maybe in a steel case for a more accessible price?) and I would love to see some exciting dials introduced by Patek in the Calatrava family.Â