While 2016 has served up a series of unexpected events, what’s happened in the watch industry this year has been more predictable. Companies have begun a shift West as the US and European markets grow larger than those in the fast-shrinking East, making this year (and next) all about bigger, more affordable steel watches.
Jury’s still out about the impact of smartwatches on the traditional watch market, but with Apple selling millions and millions of its Watch, it can’t be ignored. Distilling these trends into a handful of watches was never going to be easy, and the outcome is of course subjective – but I thought I’d have a go anyway. Here goes..
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona:
Rolex’s new batch this year included a controversial revival of its Air-King (the dial design split critics) and a tweaked Explorer – two significant additions to the canon.
But it was the new Daytona that hogged the headlines. Its black Cerachrom (Rolex’s ceramic) bezel and white dial with black-rimmed chronograph counters looked great (as did the black-dialled, white-rimmed counter reverse), but really, the story was all about availability. Demand for Daytonas has always been higher than supply, a point proved by waiting lists for the new model which have stayed sky high all year. One appeared on a pre-owned seller’s website recently for almost twice the list price. Now that’s brand power..
Oris Divers Sixty-Five:
The ‘accessible’ watch story is new to some brands, but others have been preaching it for a long time – while others saw dollar signs during the recent industry boom, Oris stuck to its ‘sensible pricing’ strategy, winning it a new generation of fans.
It’s also been making some great watches. The Divers Sixty-Five line was launched in 2015 and was joined by this 42mm version on a roughed-up leather strap this year. It’s not a deep-sea diver’s watch, but with 100-metre water resistance, a uni-directional rotating bezel and a sturdy steel case, it’s certainly practical. Best of all, it’s a proper Swiss watch for a reasonable price – who doesn’t like retro-utilitarian-chic that doesn’t break the bank?.