A series of seventies fake watches recalls a design ideolagical and coexistent trend
One of the iwc replica watch world’s current obsessions is the period in the early and mid-Seventies which gave us the idea of the sports luxe watch. In retrospect, it’s such an obvious idea that it’s a wonder there was a need to define it in the first place, particularly now that you would be pushed to find a non-luxe sports watch. Nevertheless, there was a gap, both real and perceived, between diving watches and dress watches that needed filling.
Admittedly, the backdrop to all this is somewhat convoluted, but at the end of the Sixties, Italian watch retailers started to notice that their customers were after something a little different. They wanted watches that were somewhere between the classic and the functional, watches that could be worn both by the poolside and at a meeting, looking nonchalantly in place in either setting.
A 2004 overhaul produced a cleaner, sharper look, which featured textured dials, a bracelet that reflected the angles of the Maltese cross bezel, and a wider variety of movements. Sensibly, 12 years being barely a season in watch terms, the 2016 Overseas (below) doesn’t change a great deal on the surface, though the general effect is of a slight softening of the lines: the crown protector has gone, the edges of the case and the Maltese cross bezel are less sharply defined, while the dials have a subtly more contemporary feel to them.
At that point, the thought of anyone mixing the genres and producing a platinum replica swiss Rolex Submariner or a diamond-set TAG Heuer Carrera being utterly unthinkable, the idea of a watch that could cross over from beach to office was groundbreaking indeed. As in so many important matters, it was the Italians who led the way.
Monocoque in construction like the Royal Oak, the 222 had slightly heavier, more angular lines that found echoes in contemporary cars such as the Maserati Kyalami, and prefigured everything from Volvo estates to Dynasty shoulder pads. Renamed the Overseas in 1996, and with redesigns along the way, the watch has been a staple in the catalogue ever since. However, with growing interest in the Genta designs over the past few years, the Overseas was due a refresh.
The resulting sketches were the genesis of the Royal Oak, a classic of this genre and a staple in AP’s catalogue to this day. Over the next few years, Genta produced variations on the template for Patek Philippe (the Nautilus, also still in the catalogue) and IWC (the Ingenieur SL), as well as working for Bulgari and Rolex.
The template was very simple, in effect – match a robust, but clearly -expensively -produced, case to a high-quality -movement and ensure that the incidental detail -emphasises the quality, hence the Royal Oak’s engine-turned dial. Girard-Perregaux’s 1975 Laureato (named after the Italian title of The Graduate) adopted a similar style, but Vacheron Constantin didn’t follow suit with its own take on the sports luxe watch, the 222, until 1977. This was a subtle update of a -template that looked ahead to the Eighties – a decade in which the rise to prominence of the 222’s designer, Jorg Hysek, eventually -outshone Genta’s, and produced another giant of the sports luxe sector, Piaget’s Polo.
This was fed back to the brands in Switzerland at a point when the -technology behind watchmaking was just beginning a quietly radical evolution, opening up new possibilities. Still, the Swiss weren’t in a great hurry – it was only the day before the 1971 Basel trade fair that Iwc replica Portuguese Chronograph chief, due to meet with his Italian distributors, put in a call to a then-jobbing designer called Gérald Genta, requesting concept sketches for a haute horlogerie steel sports watch by the following morning, please.