By Marta Díaz de Santos
They are the most admired and desired by watch lovers and great collectors. Historical pieces whose success has been cemented over the years and that we now have at our fingertips (although the truth is that some are reserved for the wealthiest) … We present 10 style icons that became legend:
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the first luxury sports watch in history
In 1972, as the first quartz watches were preparing to cause an unprecedented crisis in the Swiss watch industry, Audemars Piguet defied convention with its first high-end sports watch made of steel: the Royal Oak. The story began when the manufacture contacted the designer Gérald Genta to create a high-end sports model intended for daily use, a piece intended for very active people in accordance with the new lifestyle that was beginning to be proposed at the time. Genta’s idea was to protect the thinnest self-winding movement in the world at the time (3.05mm) developed by Audemars Piguet in 1967 with a sturdy stainless steel armor. An unconventional material in “Haute Horlogerie” and much more difficult to work than gold, since steel required an investment in new tools and techniques to obtain the required finishes. For the first time, steel was ennobled, elevating it to the same status as gold.
The Royal Oak revolutionized the aesthetic codes of watchmaking with its wide octagonal bezel, 39mm barrel case (nicknamed ‘Jumbo’), hexagonal screws, integrated steel bracelet with diminishing size links and innovative guilloché ‘Tapestry’ dial. . Its steel case and bracelet featured refined techniques: alternating hand-polished and satin finishes are its hallmarks.
Patek Philippe Nautilus, the model that changed the history of the most prestigious manufacture in the world
In the 1970s, in the midst of social and economic change, Patek Philippe was clear that it was time to take a turn at the helm to present its first sports steel model. It was a risky bet, but the efforts of Philippe Stern, one of the directors and son of the then president, Henri Stern, made it happen. For the risky mission, the designer Gerald Genta, author of the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet, was enlisted, who, taking inspiration from ship hatches, including hinges, gave the model a hypnotic personality. In 1976 the Nautilus 3700/1 was a reality. The initial reluctance of the ‘Patek client’, due to the material used, its size of 42 mm, too large for the time and which earned it the nickname of ‘Jumbo’ and its one-piece box, hermetic to 120 meters, quickly became in virtues that catapulted this simple and robust model to an unthinkable place. The Nautilus could boast from its birth, and in fact it already did in its first advertisements, that it was the most expensive watch in the world made of steel. In addition, in record time, it became the most recognizable and desired model. It is considered that, at present, the Manufacture manufactures one unit for every 100 requests they receive for this iconic reference whose legend does not stop growing.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox, the quintessential diver’s watch
Jaeger-LeCoultre highlights the best striking mechanisms developed in the Manufacture since its inception in 1833. Since its inception, the House has created more than 1,200 calibers, in addition to the 400 patents, which it has deposited throughout its more than 180 years of history and which currently enjoy unique recognition within the watchmaking sector. In 1950, the Manufacture introduced the Memovox, the Latin voice of memory which, in 1956, became the first automatic alarm clock in the history of watchmaking. In essence, it involved a hammer striking a pin welded to the back of the watch that produced a hum, audible both acoustically and by vibration at the wrist. In 1959 the now legendary Memovox Deep Sea was introduced, the first buCEO endowed with such a complication, culminating in the 1965 Memovox Polaris, with a triple box designed to be clearly heard even at the 200-meter depth approved for the Polaris.
Zenith El Primero, the first automatic chronograph on the market
1969 was a historic year for the watch industry, Zenith introduced El Primero, the world’s first high-frequency automatic chronograph (36,000 vibrations per hour) which allowed it to measure with an accuracy of one tenth of a second. Arguably the most famous and advanced caliber in the industry, until the quartz crisis almost wiped it out. Only the determination of Charles Vermot, Zenith’s watchmaker, prevented disaster. In the mid-1970s he received an order from his bosses to get rid of all the equipment with which mechanical movements were made in the factory and, luckily, he had the courage to disobey them. History has put El Primero in its place. It is a luxury watch that was born motivated by audacity, authenticity and passion. But it was not only the movement that was innovative. Watch models equipped with the revolutionary caliber were also praised for their contemporary and unique design, which continues to inspire and fascinate watchmakers and discerning collectors 50 years later.
Rolex Daytona, the impossible object of desire
It is one of the most iconic models in the Rolex collection and possibly the most desired watch in the world. In 1959, Rolex partnered with the prestigious Daytona International Speedway in the United States, and in 1963 it launched the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph, a model designed to meet the chronometric demands of high-competition pilots. A few years later, Rolex added the Daytona name to the face of the iconic chronograph to mark its connection to the circuit. Rolex did not quite achieve with the Daytona the status that it did enjoy like other models of the manufacture. Everything changed when Paul Newman was seen wearing the watch. But it was not on his own initiative. Joanne Woodward, who never looked favorably on the actor’s passion for the world of speed (Newman had his own racing team) decided to give him a gift when they were both filming “Five Hundred Miles” (1969), a film that revolved around to the world of racing cars. This piece was auctioned in 2017 for $ 17,752,500, the highest price ever paid for a wristwatch. From movie.
Tag Heuer Monaco, the racing watch
An icon of the watchmaking world. Since 1860, TAG Heuer has embodied the avant-garde, precision and audacity that have marked the global history of watchmaking. Launched in 1969, the attractive appearance of the Monaco, one of the most recognized and celebrated sports watches in history, represented a complete break with conventional watchmaking design. With its square case, this model burst onto the watchmaking market at the Basel fair and immediately became the center of attention not only for its unusual and forceful design, but also for the style, technical and functional solutions that have always accompanied it. It was the first watch with this waterproof shape and the star of the debut of the famed Caliber 11, the first self-winding chronograph of Swiss watchmaking. A model that, literally, by the hand of Steve McQueen, in the movie “Le Mans” (1971) has been an object of desire for more than half a century.
Breitling Navitimer, leading the way in aviation
In 1952, Willy Breitling was contacted by the all-powerful US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) requesting a new chronograph that would meet the demanding needs of its members. The watchmaker created an innovative wrist instrument by adapting the original logarithmic slide rule of the Chronomat from the previous decade for aeronautical use, integrating it into a rotating bezel. So the pilots could quickly make calculations about average speed, distance traveled, fuel consumption, ace speed.census and descent and conversion from miles to kilometers or nautical miles. The 41mm case, especially large for the time, ensured readability and was reinforced by Arabic digits with radius inside in contrast to the black dial. The Navitimer (contraction of Navigation + Timer), once introduced to the AOPA, was an instant hit. After a history of more than 65 years, it is, without the slightest doubt, the most iconic Breitling and continues to be the ultimate wrist instrument for pilots.
Omega Speedmaster, the watch that stepped on the moon
This sports chronograph created in 1957 was inspired by the watches of the Italian sports models of the time. At the time of its birth, it was the first wrist chronograph with a tachymeter scale on the bezel, making it the ideal companion for racing drivers. His relationship with NASA began in October 1962, when astronauts Walter Schirra and Gordon Cooper took their Speedmasters on missions in the Mercury program. On March 1, 1965, it became the only watch that passed the harsh tests imposed by NASA and managed to become “Officially certified watch for all manned missions.” Omega began adding the legend ‘Professional’ on the dial, below the Speedmaster. On July 20, 1969, the world witnessed the first human landing on the moon. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins wore their own Speedmaster Professional tight to their spacesuit, a small step for the man, but a big step for… Omega. A watchmaking legend was born of a model so recognizable both by its dial and by the words that since then it has been on its back cover: “First and Only Watch Worn on the Moon”.
Cartier Santos, the world’s first wristwatch
Created in 1904, it is based on the concept of form, a taste for minimalism, precision of proportions and attention to detail. A masterpiece inspired by World War I tank tracks and designed by Louis Cartier for pioneer pilot and personal friend Alberto Santos Dumont. Considered the first men’s wristwatch, it is undoubtedly the perfect candidate for those looking for a vintage model. The piece, which continues to maintain its original name, was so well received that not only did it invade the wrists of the 80s, but its design, a benchmark that transcends fashion, continues to maintain its place in the olympus of watchmaking in its own right. . A piece that has been carried by personalities such as Gary Cooper, Alain Delon, Diana de Gales, Yves Saint-Laurent or Catherine Denueve, among many others.
Rolex Submariner, the technical mastery of waterproofing
We are talking about the most iconic watch in history. This model marked a milestone in the history of watchmaking and became the diving instrument par excellence thanks to its rotating bezel allowing divers to read the dive time. Specifically, in June 1953 it was transformed, with or without the permission of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, into the first diver’s watch water-resistant to 100 meters (330 feet).
A piece that has evolved to adapt to current demands, while maintaining its essence and increasing its performance. A beautiful and precise watch, robust, reliable, with minimal maintenance and exquisite technical service.
Sean Connery made him his inseparable companion on ‘Dr. No ‘(1962), his first film in the Bond saga and it was rare to see Steve McQueen without wearing his 5512 in his day to day life … and that’ The King of Cool ‘was the advertising image of a competing brand. A timeless classic, perfect for sporting or in a suit, which is appreciated almost every day.