January to March is traditionally quiet in the watch industry as manufactures gear up for international watch fairs. Since two years ago, the excitement they bring forth year on year is diluted by uncertainty thanks to a host of changes made to fair calendars and participants (though that is not what we are focusing on). Amidst the precarious state of international watch fairs, there is one constant — the sheer number of predictions of what Rolex would release and many a times falling flat. Today we try to make a few predictions on the biggest trends consumers can expect for 2020, we certainly hope we will not come up short on this.
Steel Sports Watches
The universal appeal of steel sports watches continues to solidify and make headlines as their overwhelming demand is unlike anything the industry has seen. Last year, fine watchmaking heavyweight A. Lange & Söhne presented the Odysseus; Chopard released the Alpine Eagle as Royal Oaks, Nautiluses and Daytonas will remain on the minds of watch buyers. Yes, it may be boring but the trend of steel sports watches will continue to grow well beyond 2020.
Vintage/Retro Inspired Watches
The vintage/retro trend does not look like it is slowing down given the success it has among consumers. Tudor perfectly championed it with the Black Bay Heritage, Rado’s Captain Cook was a wild success and Longines has been doing a fine job with their Heritage collection (with the Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph 1946 being its newest darling). The list of brands does not stop here, expect the trend to continue in 2020 as manufactures continue digging through their archives for inspiration.
The advancement of technology has enabled material innovations to rapidly rise through the ranks as one of the most interesting launches to look out for during watch fairs. High-tech materials will continue to dominate with ceramic, a once novel material making further inroads in watchmaking. Material evolution does not stop at watch cases as brands are constantly developing watch mechanisms as well. Nivachron, a titanium-based alloy was introduced to the Swatch Sistem51 lineup. TAG Heuer developed a carbon composite hairspring, assembled atom by atom from elemental carbon. 2020 will see more of such innovations, be it to watch cases, mechanisms or even watch straps.
Unlike the fashion industry, the collaboration scene in the watch industry is still in its infancy as manufactures remain steadfast and traditional in their approach to marketing. 2019 was a sign of things to change as the year was marked with a host of collaborations including the Zenith Defy 21 Land Rover edition, the Tudor Black Bay Chono Dark All Blacks edition and the TAG Heuer Carrera 02 by Fragment Design Hiroshi Fujiwara. Expect to see more collaboration projects in the coming years as watchmakers are realising the potential of collaborations that enable them to reach and appeal to new consumers.