Happy anniversaries November 8. An unremarkable date until I tell you that today is professional Scottish shouter and sometime chef Gordon Ramsay's 49th birthday. Today is also the 59th birthday of lachrymose director and sentimentality merchant Richard Curtis (the guy who wrote the screenplays for Notting Hill and Bridget Jones's Diary). November 8 also marks the anniversary of the Munich Beer Hall putsch (1923), John F. Kennedy beating Richard Nixon in the United States presidential election (1960) and the first ever day of HBO programming (1972). Why am I bringing up all these random events? I wanted to prove that on every day of the year something significant happened, even something as marginally interesting as Ramsay coming kicking and swearing into the world.
In the watch industry, a business obsessed with the past in many ways, even the most prosaic event is cause for celebration, with a new piece. Thus you have brands celebrating the birthdates of founders (and the dates of their passing), foundation year anniversaries, collection creation anniversaries, model anniversaries, collection-model-limited-edition anniversaries … you get the picture. When they have run out of their own anniversaries, watch companies tend to hijack that of others, such as the birthdates of long-dead composers or historic battles that had nothing to do with the Swiss.
I'm ranting here.
Anyway, not all anniversaries are bad or cynical marketing ploys, and I suppose if you can hang the launch of a new piece on something tangible then where's the harm?
Swiss watchmaker Zenith has a tangible anniversary this year: 150 years since its founding. To celebrate, the Le Locle-based brand has created the El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Tour Auto Edition watch (right). The El Primero line is Zenith's most famous, so a natural choice for the brand to focus all its attention on, and the Chronomaster 1969 is an absolute beauty. Straight off, from the design, colour scheme and strap choice, this is a racing watch, specifically the golden age back in the 1960s when motor racing really was a life or death sport. The steel case measures 42mm and houses the lovely El Primero 4061 automatic movement with silicon parts inside. It has a power reserve of 50 hours. The dial gives an insight into the movement which, along with the racing stripes, is a standout feature. Limited to 500 pieces, the watch is priced at HK$83,000.
From 150 years of Zenith, we go to 25 years of the Luminox. A heavy-duty, high-performance watch brand, Luminox doesn't ordinarily have a mawkish fondness for the past, but after 25 years in the business, it has allowed itself the indulgence of creating an anniversary collection, the standout of which is the 3050 series (right). Actually the only telltale sign that this is an anniversary watch is the special dial marked with the legend "25XXV". Otherwise, this is your dependable Luminox that you can bump, bury and drown to your heart's content. Sized at 44mm, the watch has a Ronda 515 movement and features include day display, 200 metres of water resistance, a carbon case and coloured gas lights for the indices to help with low-light reading. The Luminox 3050 series is priced at HK$3,550.
And finally, from 25 we go to 10 with Bell & Ross celebrating a decade of success for its most iconic watch, the BR01. Bell & Ross has been around since 1992, but the brand only really started to grab people's attention when it created the BR01 and its distinctive, robust, almost industrial-looking, square case. The BR01 was inspired by aviation dashboards, so the original was a hit with fans of pilot's watches, but in the intervening years Bell & Ross has created dozens of different dial faces including one with an altimeter (the good), one with infrared radar (the bad) and even one with diamond-encrusted skull (the ugly). The original is still the best and for the anniversary B&R has relaunched it with a "10 years" emblem on the dial and etched onto the caseback. Features are kept to a minimum and the 46mm case is made of matte black ceramic with the strap in black rubber. Limited to 500 pieces, the BR01 10th Anniversary edition (right) is priced at HK$41,000.