It seems that time makes us more appreciative of designs from the past. Maybe it is because we have seen them on multiple occasions, so we got more used to them, or maybe because they invoke a sentimental sense of yesteryear. A lot of watches that are introduced each year are based on, or inspired by, vintage models from the brand, and that is not a bad thing.
In general retro-styled watches often get a warm welcome by collectors and connoisseurs. This is not in last part because it often allows them to get a desirable style from the past from which the original watches are difficult to obtain, or simply quite costly.
For this, the devil can be in the details. While Audemars Piguet has been making splendid versions of the Royal Oak for decades, but the Royal Oak Jumbo that they released in 2012 for the models 40th anniversary struck especially a cord with collectors, as it featured a finer tapisserie dial, no white line around the date window, and the Audemars Piguet logo moved from the twelve o’clock position to the six o’clock position…..just like the original Royal Oak Jumbo from 1972.
While visually a retro-inspired watch maybe like a visit to the past, in terms of technology the opposite is often the case. Technical developments, like for example that of silicon, as used by, among others, Breguet and Ulysse Nardin are also used in vintage inspired watches.
While some watches are indeed created to resemble their vintage counterparts, there is still room to play. This can even go beyond increasing the diameter of the case to meet current trends. When Girard-Perregaux released the Vintage 1945 Tourbillon with Three Golden Bridges they essentially combined the beautiful curved, Art Deco styled case of the Vintage 1945 with the Tourbillon with Three Golden Bridges that was first introduced in a pocket watch in 1887.
In a way, retro is paving the way forward for many brands. Not only by adapting vintage designs to modern trends and taste or fitting them with state-of-the-art mechanical movements, but also by allowing them to stay in touch with their DNA, merging the past, present, and hopefully, future.