In the world of watch collecting, there are admittedly so many options available. With brand launching novelties on an annual basis, collectors are definitely spoilt for choice.
Despite the myriad of models, some of the icons remain. These pieces do not just come and go – they are evergreen watches that have stood the test of time. In fact, some of them can boast that they have remained relevant over the many decades of existence. This is definitely remarkable, considering the nature of consumerism and the proliferation of fast fashion which would have deemed these icons to be “obsolete”.
While these icons have been tweaked to meet the rigour and needs of the collectors today, the very essence of the watch still remains. The watches are still faithful to their original roots, with obvious traits that make them instantly recognisable by many.
So, what are some of the watches that we consider as icons? Let us find out!
Omega Speedmaster Professional
We start off with the most quintessential piece from Omega: The Speedmaster Professional, or otherwise known as the “Moonwatch“.
The watch was launched in 1957, as a manual-winding chronograph that was initially meant for either sports or racing. Its association with the outer-space was only established a few years later, when NASA selected the Speedmaster for both its Gemini and Apollo mission. Its position was further cemented on 21 July, 1969, when Buzz Aldrin wore his Speedmaster when he exited the spacecraft and took his first step on the moon.
Over the years, the “Moonwatch” had undergone several changes, most notably in terms of its movement and bracelet design. However, the main essence of the timepiece remains. In terms of its aesthetics, it still looks similar to its predecessors, sans some subtle cosmetic changes. The latest reiteration, with the manual-winding Calibre 1861 movement, retails at S$7,150. The watch is very well-priced in our opinion, and we think that this is one of the “must-have” watches in any watch collection.
Rolex is probably a brand that does not need any introduction. Its brand equity is so rich that even non-watch collectors, upon the mention of Rolex, know that it is a company that produces luxury timepieces.
The Submariner is one of the most iconic and popular pieces in the Rolex repertoire, aside from the Datejust. First introduced in 1954, the latest variant – Reference 114060 – still largely retains the DNA of the original iteration. What we particularly like about the Submariner is its robustness and versatility. Not to mention, the watch is very timeless in terms of its aesthetics as well.
Priced at S$10,600, the Rolex Submariner is probably one of the best tool watches that money can get. There are many variants of the Submariner as well, although our choice would be the base model which is the closest to the original model. We feel that the lack of a date indicator (as well as the magnifying cyclops) provides a nice symmetry to the watch, as well as the fact that it pays homage to the original version where it is only available with the “no date” option. It is almost impossible to go wrong with this piece.
Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso
The Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso is certainly an icon in the watch collecting world, with its unmistakable rectangular case and the intriguing reversible case. Its provenance, first as a sports watch and now widely adopted as a dress watch, is interesting as well.
The Reverso first debuted in the 1930s, for an interesting reason. Back then, the Polo players requested César de Trey to produce a timepiece that can withstand the knocks from polo mallets. This gave César the idea to create a timepiece with a reversible case, and hence the Reverso was born.
Over the years, Jaeger LeCoultre had produced many iterations of the Reverso. For starters, we believe that the base model – which is a time-only watch – fits the bill perfectly. It is simple, yet so sophisticated on its own right. In addition, the empty caseback can be used for engraving purposes as well. The entry-level model with a manual-winding movement is priced at US$5,300 (approximately S$7,289), and this is similarly priced to a typical stainless steel Rolex Datejust or Explorer. We think it is worth a shot for someone who is looking for a dress watch, and yet might not want to spend a five-figure sum for a timepiece that is different from their usual options.
The Cartier Santos is yet another timepiece with an interesting story behind it. It is hardly believable that the highly fashionable Santos was originally created as a pilot’s watch, but the iconic timepiece from Cartier does have its roots embedded in the aviation world in the early 20th century.
At the first glance, it is pretty difficult to put two and two together. The Santos is known to be an iconic timepiece from an equally legendary brand, but the history of the watch is much more than that. The watch, notably, is known as the first pilot’s wristwatch that was ever produced. It is designed after a pilot friend of Louis Cartier wanted a timepiece that can be strapped on the wrist, and hence the Santos was born.
Over the years, the Santos had subtle updates to its design. However, its DNA remains, especially with its rounded square case and exposed screws. The latest iteration of the model is the Dumont XL, an ultra-thin dress watch with a sleek and elegant case profile. Retailing at S$5,350 for the base stainless steel manual-winding model, the Dumont XL is a reasonably-priced timepiece that offers great value and handsome good looks.
Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition
Continuing with the theme of pilot’s watch, we have another undisputed icon is synonymous with the aviation world: Breitling Navitimer.
In last year’s Baselworld, Breitling launched a remake of the Reference 806 – the original Navitimer that graced the wrists of pilots in the 1950s. It was this particular model that first adopted the “Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association” (AOPA) emblem on its dial – as seen by the winged logo on the dial of this timepiece. It is a faithful recreation, with great attention paid to even the tiniest detail on both the case and dial.
The homage piece now features some modern touches to it, in particular the movement. It is now fitted with Breitling’s in-house Calibre B09, a hand-wound COSC-certified movement that was developed specially for historical re-creations. The 39-jewel calibre beats at 28,800 vph, and it has a power reserve of around 70 hours.
Priced at S$11,750, the Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition is a special timepiece that certainly captures the heart of many aviation enthusiasts. Breitling will only produce 1959 pieces of this timepiece, and each will be individually numbered and engraved on the caseback.
TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition
To have an icon is good enough, but combining two icons together and the results are simply immense. This is what we have here with the TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Edition.
The TAG Heuer Monaco is a cool watch, embodied by the fact that it was once worn by the King of Cool (and racing) Steve McQueen. As the name suggests, it was also produced in honour of the Monaco Grand Prix, which is known to many as one of the most incredible street circuits in the racing world. The addition of the blue and orange Gulf livery, which in itself is an icon in the world of racing, makes this Monaco a tad even more special than the usual.
Powered by the Calibre 11 movement, the self-winding Monaco boasts a chronograph and date function, as well as a power reserve of around 40 hours. The watch retails at US$5,900 (approximately S$8,113), and its bold colours and design will certainly be a conversational piece amongst enthusiasts who are passionate about both racing and horology.
There are indeed many iconic pieces out there, and merely one article is definitely not enough to do justice to the rest of the watches that were not featured today. We will certainly look at doing more instalments on this topic – so do keep a lookout for it.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our selection today. These watches are timeless icons that have certainly stood the test of time, with interesting stories to boot as well. It is also interesting to see how some of these watches have transcended beyond their original intended purposes – such as the Cartier Santos and Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso.
So, what are your favourites amongst the selection today? What are also some of the timepieces that should be featured in the subsequent instalments in the future? Let us know in the comments section below.