The 1970s are often regarded as the decade that style forgot and with good reason, when one considers the sartorial aberrations of a film like Saturday Night Fever. The trends just didn't make sense - velvet bell-bottom trousers and roller skates? Really? Who thought that was even a practical combination, let alone one that looked good? Seventies design wasn't all bad, though; not when it came to watches, at least, and some of the more forward-thinking and iconic timepieces from that era have been reissued to excite a new generation.
First up is the Vacheron Constantin 1972 Prestige (below right), the sort of watch that belongs in a design museum; so be thankful you can put it on your wrist. Created in response to the brand receiving the coveted Prestige de la France award in 1972, the timepiece showcases the best of Vacheron Constantin's watchmaking craft together with a soupcon of post-modern design. Featuring a (daring for its time) asymmetrical case made of 18-carat white gold, the watch is as fresh and quirky today as it was back then - everything about it screams watchmaking perfection. Inside, there is a more recent 1003 ultra-thin in-house movement that allows this reissue to be slimmer than its predecessor, although power reserve is a modest 31 hours. Dial design is kept simple and clean as befits Vacheron Constantin, but there is a nice "Prestige de la France" engraving on the case back.
The Vacheron Constantin 1972 Prestige is priced at HK$340,000.
Vulcain may sound like a brand sprung from the mind of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, but the Swiss watchmaker has been around since 1858 and in the 1970s hit something of a purple patch with the Nautical series.
The Vulcain Nautical Seventies Limited Edition (below left) is a faithful replica of the 1970 Nautical, which gives us another chance to enjoy its unique dial layout and radical-for-its-time design. Created as a diver's watch, it features the legendary Cricket V-10 movement, which has an alarm sound audible for 20 seconds even under water. Other features include the decompression table indicator and a 60-minute graduated rotating bezel activated by the screw-locked crown at the four o'clock position. The latest version incorporates modern materials and technological innovations so the wearer gets the reliability and quality assurance of the new with the style of the old. Power reserve is a decent 42 hours and water resistance maxes out at 300 metres. The 42mm-diameter case comes in steel and a distinctive rounded tonneau shape; the strap is a black and orange water-resistant leather.
The Vulcain Nautical Seventies Limited Edition is limited to 300 pieces and prices are available upon request.
Finally, we have a watch that hasn't been reissued but rather incrementally improved upon and it's one we hope won't ever go away. The IWC Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph (above), introduced in the late 60s and early 70s to immense acclaim, has changed little since those days and yet its impact is still palpable. Coming in a large 45.4mm case that houses an IWC-made 89361 calibre movement, the watch can crank out 68 hours of power. All that power is needed, though, for features including date indicator, stopwatch function, a flyback function, small seconds and a combined hour and minute totaliser at the 12 o'clock position. A nautical watch, the timepiece is water resistant to 60 metres and comes with a black rubber strap. The IWC Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph is priced at HK$208,000 for the red-gold version and HK$109,000 for the stainless-steel version.