There are big ones and small ones, even some that the companies themselves weren’t aware of! 2017 is shaping up to be a landmark year for watchmaking, with a bumper crop of anniversaries to celebrate.
Some of them need little introduction. Hermès, for example, was founded in 1837, which makes this year its 180th birthday. The company is a shining example of longevity and growth. The modest Parisian workshop has become a multi-faceted luxury goods brand active in couture, leather goods and perfumes, not forgetting watchmaking. The brand created by Thierry Hermès in 1837 is still majority-owned by the family, and boasts an annual turnover of around 5 billion euros. And it all began with a saddle!
Cartier, which has followed a similar trajectory, celebrates its 170th anniversary this year. No false modesty is required to recount the company’s journey from its modest beginnings in 1847, when a humble jeweller’s apprentice took over his master’s workshop. Cartier has gone from adorning the crowned heads of Europe to a globally recognised multi-million-dollar brand and business empire.
Finally, the house of Dior celebrates its 70th birthday this year. Although its watchmaking workshops are far newer (2001), the aura of the mother brand has certainly helped its Audemars Piguet Watches Of Switzerland Replica collections, particularly the Chiffre Rouge range, to cement their reputation in record time.
A Jurassic jubilee
Few trajectories have been as spectacular, but there is one more, of a similar scale and a similar age: Longines. The company, which was founded exactly 185 years ago, will devote considerable effort in the second half of the year to celebrating the milestone.
From its original vocation as a sports timing specialist, Longines has grown into one of the world’s biggest Audemars Piguet Cheapest Watch Replica brands, producing more than a million timepieces per year, distributed worldwide to a customer base that comprises 50% women. With the company’s vast archives to draw upon, we can expect a plethora of anniversary models. Longines has chosen to focus on one model in particular, which commemorates Charles Lindbergh’s first transatlantic flight 90 years ago. The “Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch” will be available in a limited edition of 90.
Bovet, on the other hand, is celebrating its 195th anniversary. Although Edouard Bovet (who would have been 220 this year!) first dipped his toe into watchmaking a few years earlier, it was in 1822 that he went into partnership with his brothers Alphonse, Frédéric and Gustave to sell watches in China. The first contract signed by the Bovet company was registered in London on the 1st May of that year. The business expanded rapidly, and manufacturing operations were transferred to Fleurier, very close to where the company still makes its watches today, in Môtiers.
We wish many happy returns also to Eberhard & Co., an independent watchmaker that is perhaps less well known, though still highly prized by collectors. It celebrates its 130th birthday this year. Not many people know that Eberhard was responsible for some major milestones in watchmaking history. The company has filed patents for advances in time setting (1894), hour display (1905) and dust and humidity protection (1921), to name just a few.
New kids on the block
It would be impossible to list all of this year’s anniversaries, but there are a few more that deserve a mention. Bulgari Time, for instance, was founded exactly 35 years ago. Since then, the Italian company has built a reputation that vies with those of the biggest watchmakers, with its distinctive Roman style and acknowledged technical flair, particularly in the domain of ultra-thin watches.
Alongside these illustrious forebears Anonimo, which is a sprightly 20 years old, is something of a new kid on the block. Its current trajectory nevertheless confirms that it is on the right track and, one hopes, destined for a long and healthy life. Although it started life bearing a striking resemblance to Officine Panerai, Anonimo has become more confident in its own stylistic identity and technical approach. The brand that made a deliberate choice to be recognised for its creations rather than its name has now conquered many markets, particularly since it converted to Swiss Made in 2013.
Anniversary models aplenty
And it’s not just the brands whose anniversaries we are celebrating – individual watches are also getting in on the action. The Fifty Fathoms, created in the 1950s, had its first major reissue just ten years ago, in 2007, under the impetus of Marc Hayek. Since then, the legendary timepiece has reasserted itself as a truly iconic diving watch.
Its slightly older counterpart, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, was seen for the first time 45 years ago. This year, the women’s version also celebrates its 40th birthday. Girard-Perregaux’ iconic tourbillon with three gold bridges is 130 years old this year. And Piaget already broke out the champagne for the 60th anniversary of the Altiplano at this year’s SIHH.
2017 will also be a big year for TAG Heuer. The company celebrates 55 years of the Autavia, which returned to Basel with great fanfare. It’s also the 10th anniversary of the Link collection, and Jack Heuer’s 85th birthday.
Now, the “best” for Audemars Piguet signifies their striving to create the most crisp and clear sound of any minute repeater. The newest points to three achievements demonstrated in this watch, which I shall briefly run through. To begin with, the special preparation of the steel used to create the gong arrangement allows the watchmakers to accurately and easily adjust and enhance the pitch, tone, and stability of the second repeater. Secondly, the way in which the case is constructed reduces sound absorption and maximizes amplification. I will discuss this “soundboard” procedure more a bit later on. Finally, the striking regulator is redesigned so the anchor system acts like a shock absorber, minimizing shock noise.One of the most significant components of a minute repeater watch is the case because it’s responsible for amplifying the noise. It’s often said that gold would be the best material for the job because it generates a richer sound, but the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie Tourbillon Chronograph watch opts for titanium. Titanium is a really light and strong alloy, and its low density enables sound to pass through with less resistance. In case you have any doubts about this, you just have to check at exotic supercars and their titanium exhausts. Titanium is also used elsewhere round the watch to improve the quality of the noise, but more on this later.The use of titanium also suggests that despite the watch’s sizable measurements, at 44mm wide and 16.5mm thick, it stays light and comfy to wear. And thanks to its unique aesthetic, the situation design immediately identifies the opinion as a Royal Oak Concept and nothing else.It goes without saying that the case is finished to an impeccably large standard with contrasting finishing. The bezel has mirror polished edges and includes a satin-brushed finish on the top, which matches the exposed polished 18k white gold twist heads. The case has been sandblasted and has a matte finish that juxtaposes very well with the shinier bezel. The large crown and chronograph pushers have been made out of ceramic.
Women can celebrate the 5th year of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Rendez-Vous collection. These watches have been spectacularly successful since their introduction in 2012, consistently ranking among the company’s best-selling women’s watches.