Icons come and go; and in the case of Madonna, U2 and Bon Jovi you kind of wish they would just go. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against ageing pop stars and rockers fleecing their fans, as long as things are consensual, but do the rest of us really have to put up with their tireless self promotion?
The icons of the watch world are, thankfully, nowhere near as annoying. Far from it. Iconic watches are gifts that keep on giving: each brand has an iconic line which it tries to adapt year on year, maintaining the principles that made it iconic in the first place but adding modern twists.
First among our icons is Tag Heuer's Carrera, which this year celebrates its 50th birthday. The Carrera line was introduced by Heuer (before the merger with Tag) in 1963 as a tribute to the Carrera Panamericana, a car race across Mexico held between 1950 and 1954. The first Heuer line to have its own name, the Carrera (which is the Spanish for "race") has always been linked with racing and the latest iteration is the Carrera Calibre 8 Grande Date GMT COSC (below left). Echoing glories past, the 2013 Carrera builds on the iconic dial and sporty design with new additions including the very welcome large date window at the 12 o'clock position and the wonderfully designed second time-zone subdial at the six o'clock position. The case is a moderately sized 41mm and comes in polished steel that looks good either with the black leather strap or polished steel bracelet. The movement inside is an automatic Calibre 8 and comes with Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres certification. The Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 8 Grande Date GMT COSC is available for a bargain HK$30,900.
Another instantly recognisable watch line is the Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre, which has been quietly going about its business for 82 years. The original Reverso owes its existence to British India and polo-playing army officers who needed a watch that wouldn't break or scratch during a game. The boffins at LeCoultre and Jaeger, before they became one, worked together on the answer - a watch that could be flipped around onto its caseback, thus protecting the dial face. The Reverso was ingenious but what helped make it a full-blown icon was the art deco-inspired design, which remains the starting point for Reversos such as the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Duoface (above right). Coming in a steel case, one side of this watch is white and features a small seconds hand at the six o'clock position while the flip side is also a dial face, a second time zone in fact (the boffins at Jaeger-LeCoultre probably figured it's unlikely anyone will be taking this watch onto the polo field). With its ultra-thin movement and alligator leather strap, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Duoface is the perfect dress watch, dripping in heritage and a steal at HK$82,500.
Finally, we have the Seamaster from Omega, a watch line that is both ubiquitous and unique. The Seamaster was introduced by Omega in 1948 to celebrate the brand's 100th anniversary, and was modelled on watches used by the British Navy. In the 65 years since, the Seamaster has expanded as a range to the point where there are now sub-brands within the line such as the Aqua Terra "Captain's Watch" (below left), a special-edition timepiece created for golf's 2012 Ryder Cup. The Captain's Watch comes in a 41.5mm steel case complete with steel bracelet. The design has been kept simple with the familiar Aqua Terra vertical "teak" pattern on the dial. Features have been kept simple, too, with the movement a Co-Axial chronometer 8500. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra "Captain's Watch" is priced at HK$43,100.