Luxury watches have reflected an air of prestige and status for generations, becoming a piece of modern culture symbolizing status and style. Jet Linx caught up with Elevated Lifestyle partner Eleven James to take a look at timepiece trends for 2018. Scroll down to start the clock!
The Rise of the Independents
Finding stature in the luxury brand market are independents – a small operation of two to three watchmakers who take traditional mechanical watchmaking and add innovation and artistry. They are creative and passionate for the craft. According to Eleven James, independent watchmakers like FP Journe, H. Moser, Voitilainen, Romain Gauthier have seen a sharp rise in popularity. Why now? “Broader interest in specialty and unique product versus big box names,” stated David Lee, Eleven James SVP of Inventory and Head Curator. “And, in the watch industry, for the past couple of years the big brands haven’t been doing great with new models, but the more unique pieces – whether vintage models
from big brands or these emerging brands – are driving a lot of new interest and growth.”
“You’re also starting to see brands built around individuals as the star versus the brand or a model like a Daytona.” Lee also pointed to limited supply versus demand. “Case in point: Voitilainen. Most collectors care less about the watch itself versus the bragging rights of owning one. Their production is limited, and price is harder to negotiate as demand is rising.” (Pictured above: FP Journe Chronometre Souverain)
Blue is the New Black
Appearance of a watch, specifically the color of the dial, is crucial. Blue dials have evolved into a versatile color opening up several more style options by adding contrast with a pop of color and incredible depth. Blue dials have an amazing ability to capture light in ways white or black dials are unable to achieve.
“Five plus years ago, blue dial requests would be met with skepticism because blue dials are harder to match to any outfit – white and black have always been the defaults,” Lee continued. “Blue is now a more
popular color (e.g. blue suits with brown shoes) and it was always considered a non-traditional color, but brands are starting to make popular models with a blue dial option. Once considered only as a third or fourth dial color choice, blue is now the hottest color in the watch industry with just about every major brand releasing blue dials – some for the very first time. For example, A. Lange & Söhne just released four models with blue dials for the first time. Historically these models only came in white dials.” (Pictured above: Breitling Navitimer)
Rolex Stainless Steel Sport Models
Rolex continues to influence and innovate the watchmaking industry with their stainless steel (SS) sport models. “The market for Rolex SS sport models, led by the ceramic bezel Daytona and GMT II, is at an all-time high,” Lee shared. “The market will continue to see shortage as demand will continue to rise and supply will remain limited. Stainless steel Rolexes are all the rage right now. Rumor was that Rolex would
not ship any new stainless steel sport models to any authorized dealer in the fourth quarter, and it appears that could be the case,” he continued. “Even if it’s simply the perception that supply is now limited, and given the boom of demand for these types of models in Asia, especially Hong Kong, stainless steel sport Rolexes are all the rage, including now in the U.S.” (Pictured above: Rolex Oyster)
Collectors and enthusiasts alike are drawn to vintage watches for a variety of reasons – general passion for old things, investment, and in some instances, sentimental value. Lee recently had the opportunity to sit down with James Lamdin, Founder of Analog/Shift, for a discussion on the vintage market. When asked, “Has the vintage watch market changed? How?” Lamdin explained, “As vintage watches continue to appreciate and trend upwards in value, it has become infinitely more justifiable for many, allowing people to wear and enjoy their investments instead of just looking at them on a balance sheet. This isn’t to say that investment is the only reason the vintage watch
market has grown, but it is a delightful by-product of a larger shift in consumer zeitgeist. Buyers today are looking for products and experiences that areunique and provide an emotional connection.” Lee followed up by pointing out, “Vintage demand is now really being fueled by Instagram – it’s never been so easy to see the breadth of what is available or find very specific pieces in individual collectors’ closets until now. The ability to search, find, and acquire vintage pieces that are by definition rare means that what was once a hobby is now a major trend.” (Pictured above: Tudor Submariner)