Cool Vintage Watches

Cool Vintage  Watches
Part one

What you wear on your wrist says a lot about you. The watch industry has seen tremendous growth with major fashion names like Louis Vuitton and Chanel adding wristwatches to their fashion collections.

 Instead of rushing to your nearest boutique, had you thought of going back in time? Vintage watches from the 1960s and 1970s are all the rage and are proving a quite a smart investment that is fun to wear too.

 Switzerland had  reputation as the world capital of watch making. It had no serious competition. Then a chain of events caused them to re-evaluate their status.

Cool Vintage  Watches

 The end of the 1960s saw a man on the moon and TV was installed in more households. James Bond was laden with gadgets and Steve McQueen sported a Heuer Monaco watch in his 1969 film Le Mans. Suddenly watches were 'cool', a younger market with a disposable income wanted watches that would reflect their aspirations. Watches had to match the more casual dress of the day and so the market was flooded with watches that emulated the Heuer Monaco and professional watches.

The introduction of shock resistant movements in thick stainless steel cases meant chronograph and divers' watches were increasingly popular. The rugged, sporty designs were now fashionable more than they were practical.

Cool Vintage  Watches

The 1960s was an age of travel and watches were seen as an extension of these times. Dials resembled aeroplane or racing car instruments and looked more technical than they actually were. The watch industry responded well to these changes and lesser brands tried to add their interpretation of better-known makers' models.

Because these smaller brands were responding to fashion without their massive reputations at stake, their designs were unrestrained, experimental and, nowadays, more typical of their era. The moon landing of 1969 was one period in time that affected all aspects of design. Watches were not excluded and they took on space age .names and looks.

The most blatant has got to be the Spaceman series designed by Andre Le Marquand. When it was first exhibited in 1972, no-one could have guessed its success. It sold well over 150,000 pieces and remains a classic piece of watch design.

Cool Vintage  Watches

The oval shaped case and offset dial resembles a spaceman's helmet that defies conventional design. This watch was fitted with a foam rubber strap. It really was a triumph of design rather than technical advances that captured the spirit of the time - space age styling with psychedelic colours.

In 1974 Le Marquand designed another Spaceman, the Audaceiuse. This was a most angular watch and is considered to be the jewel in any space age watch collection.

This watch appears in most watch books and has even been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art.  Old stocks are exhausted and the rising demand cannot be satisfied.' Shining examples can cost between $600-$800 for an Audaceiuse and $250-$500 for Oval Spaceman watches.

Cool Vintage  Watches

Watches resembled costume jewellery. Some watches were one size giving them a unisex feel. Ladies' watches are less popular than men's so generally tend to be cheaper, making them a great fashion accessory too.

Technology was to have a massive impact that threatened to destroy the Swiss watch industry forever. In 1969 Seiko developed the first Quartz watch. The traditional hand wound and a battery replaced complicated automatic models.

The daily routine of hand winding the watch was now a thing of the past. The Japanese had really started something and in America a strange watch was being created that I could have been the nail in the coffin of the Swiss watch industry.

Read part 2 Collectible Vintage Watches

 Collectibles Coach


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