What Are the Future Classics of the Watch World?

Introducing six new timepieces you'll want to pass down through the generations

November 17, 2020 10:01 am
What Are the Future Classics of the Watch World?
Christopher Ward, Oak & Oscar and Rossling

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Imagine if there was a crystal ball I could peer into and see the future. Instead of finding out who will run for president in 2024 (Why would you do that to yourself?) or even what the world will look like 20 years from now (Again, why would you do that?), imagine being so obsessed with watches that all you’re interested in is finding out which timepieces will be the most sought-after in years to come. After all, no one in the 1980s thought that Rolex’s professional steel models would become the apex predators they are today; back then, it was Bubblebacks people wanted. How many people in 2020 have even heard of a Bubbleback?

In terms of longevity, let’s first consider the obvious choice. Any fool like me can walk into a mall (if you can find a mall that’s open, that is) and walk out with something marvelous on his wrist — a timepiece that, if well-cared for, will be something a daughter, son or grandchild receives in those precious moments before the last croak. But it’s not very exciting, is it? Plus, who doesn’t feel like a schmuck while lining up to spend a massive amount of money on something that everyone else has — even if it is a beautifully crafted little machine you can show off to the world while conveniently always knowing what time it is?

The only practical alternative to that is to find watches now that will become the stars of tomorrow. In my opinion, this is is a fantastic idea. Not only does it support diversity in fine-watch making, it also earns you kudos for not following the crowd. (It’s always worth mentioning, however, that in you should choose a watch based on how it makes you feel — not how you think it should make you feel.)

You might begin such a search on Kickstarter, where, at the time of writing this article, there were more than 500 “Swiss Watches” projects that needed funding. Could a classic of the future be hidden amongst this motley collection of springs and wheels? Could it be discovered and purchased just by scrolling with one’s mouse? 

Possibly. In order to give some direction, I’ve chosen a few watches that I would personally fund, and two watches from companies already established — but still relatively unknown. To be honest, I haven’t had this much fun looking at watches for a long time, but should confess that it’s very easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of unknown automatic watch shopping. Furthermore, I have no idea if the following timepieces will go up in value and renown over the years, but I would certainly enjoy wearing them, which, again, is the most important thing anyway.

Coming Soon

Let’s start with those timepieces still in the workshop. First is a watch that literally took my breath away when I saw it. The Leaunoir collection “heritage”’ piece is like every tool watch I’ve ever wanted combined into one while still appearing fresh and relevant. The case diameter is the perfect compromise at 38mm, each one is water resistant to 50m and the engine is an STP 1-11 Swiss automatic movement with 44-hour power reserve. A domed sapphire glass completes the look. Retail price would have been around $850 with early investors nabbing one for $550 … however, the project was canceled just days after I began writing the story. Yee-haw! Welcome the wild west of watches!

leaunoir watches
The Neptune Calendar in White, by Leaunoir

My other picks include the automatic Nav-O3 Horizon or Directional Gyro “pilot” watch, both inspired by instrument panels and designed by Brendon Nunes, who has “successfully funded and completed five previous watch projects” on Kickstarter. Each Nav-03 contains an NH35A automatic movement with about 40 hours of power reserve. Prices for August delivery start at around $220, which is frighteningly tempting. (Side note: A quick internet search for “Brendon Nunes” reveals a website that has a ton of cool aviation-inspired watches and clocks. You have been warned.)

brendon nunes watch
The NAV-03 Horizon by Brendon Nunes
Brendon Nunes

For an elegant diving watch, I quite like the The Hydromatic C.01, a “true diver’s watch” designed and made in Germany. This is just one timepiece from a company called Rossling & Co, which has several other watch campaigns on Kickstarter, and even a website. However, the prices for the C.01 are far better on Kickstarter, starting at around $419 for a Swiss-made ETA 2824-2/SW200-1 automatic movement, with domed box crystal and unidirectional ceramic bezel.  

New classics

Moving on to more established companies, there were two that stood out to me: Oak and Oscar and Christopher Ward.  

Oak and Oscar

Oak and Oscar’s “The Jackson”

The former is an American company that since 2015 has partnered with “good people to build high-quality watches … that are beautiful, superbly crafted, and uniquely Oak & Oscar.” These watches are so popular that, at the time of writing the article, about half of their models were completely sold out. That includes my favorite, the Jackson Chronograph, a 40mm, manually wound, fly-back chronograph with a 60-hour power reserve, date at 6 o’clock, and a stacked register at 3 o’clock that tracks both minutes and hours. The Jackson also features a column wheel activated chronograph, and Eterna Movement Company’s caliber 3916M. Not bad for $2,850.

Christopher Ward

Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow

British company Christopher Ward has also shown up on my radar before, but only after a deep dive into the company history did I realize how special they are — and how well-positioned the company is to become a revered global brand.

The most exciting watch in their current inventory is the C1 Moonglow. Launched to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the moon landings, this elegant, almost mystical dress watch is one that I can’t stop looking at. The stunning visual effect of two perpetually rotating 3D moons on the dial is fantastic, and made possible by a Swiss-made precision movement, Caliber JJ04, which “allows the wearer to read the phase of one moon on their timepiece through an aperture at 12 o’clock, while the other is clouded from view beneath smoked glass.” Retail price for the C1 Moonglow is $1,935.

Christopher Ward’s C65 GMT World Timer isn’t bad either, with its cool retro styling. The C65 is powered by a Swiss-made Sellita SW330 movement with 42-hour power reserve, and a retail price of $1,130 is quite exceptional when you consider the build quality and 60-month movement guarantee. One thing that keeps the prices down here is that the company doesn’t have any retail locations. All sales are made exclusively through the website — even bespoke orders — which are worth exploring if you want something truly personal.

Christopher Ward

Christopher Ward C65 GMT Worldtimer

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