Time, Editor's Pick

The Instantly Recognisable Watches From the Big Hero Six Houses

The Instantly Recognisable Watches From the Big Hero Six Houses

instantly recognisable watches
Not only are these timepieces forged by grit, power and strength — they are also instantly recognisable watches.

Pictured above: Omega Constellation
It may be a surprise to many that the Omega Constellation was chosen over the era-defining Speed and Sea masters. The introduction of the Constellation in 1952 predated the Speedmaster by five years as a chronometer for men and was the world’s first family of chronometers that helped establish Omega’s pursuit of chronometry excellence.

Apart from precision, elegance was another hallmark of the Constellation as evident from its sophistication and refinement. It then became a symbol of style and fashion; one of the most instantly recognisable watches from the house itself.

The new Omega Constellation replicates the design of the 1982 Constellation Manhattan, one of the major aesthetic transformations that immortalised the timepiece. Two pairs of Griffes or claws extended from the case over the bezel.

Visually, it is arresting yet its purpose was to secure the sapphire crystal for better water resistance. The modern timepiece features a sleeker case, ceramic bezels with either Ceragold or Liquidmetal inserts. Omega’s famed Master Chronometer Co-Axial movements provide the finishing touches to an elegant timepiece with watchmaking pedigree.

instantly recognisable watches

Cartier Santos: It is hard to put a finger on the ubiquity of the Santos, given its original intent and the twists it underwent throughout the decades. Originally conceived as a pilot’s watch for aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1904, the Santos took on a new life of its own when the pertinence of Cartier grew among the upper echelons of social classes while joining the league of instantly recognisable watches the French maison was known for.

During the boom of luxury steel sports watches in the 1970s, the Santos was given the baton to make the Maison proud. Till today, the rounded square case, art deco Roman numerals and bezel screws of the Cartier Santos remain timeless and a benchmark of an icon.

To celebrate the pioneering spirit of Alberto Santos-Dumont and his famous aircraft, La Demoiselle, Cartier released an extremely limited Cartier Santos-Dumont “La Demoiselle” edition during this year’s Watches & Wonders. The 30-piece platinum timepiece mimics the original pilot’s watch, with nods towards the aviator and his legacy.

Santos-Dumont’s ever-present Panama hat is captured by an ecru-coloured dial and strap with woven patterns. The customary Cartier signature hidden with the “VII” numeral has been replaced by “Santos”.

Coupled with a pair of pomme hands, the Cartier Santos-Dumont exudes the same relaxed elegance it has been known for, for decades.

instantly recognisable watches
Longines Master Collection: Maturity comes with experience and not age, as the youthful Longines Master Collection attests that age is just a number.

Founded in 2005, the 15 years it has been in existence is built on Longines’ rich history that dates back to 1832. Close to 190 years of watchmaking acumen and tradition culminates within the budding Longines Master Collection.

Today, it has grown to be a symbol of excellence and is one of the instantly recognisable watches of Longines.

The Master Collection Moonphase plays on the age-old fascination of lunar cycles and astronomy. Phases of the moon are captured by the moonphase indicator, whose ties with orthodox watchmaking and horology are intimate.

The design of the timepiece does not deviate from traditional codes as well — proportions are well-balanced while the barleycorn guilloché pattern dial harks back to classical periods. Yet the youthful exuberance of the Master Collection is evident in the timepiece.

The stylised Arabic numerals provide crisp contrast against the white dial while the oversized execution lends a contemporary vibe to it.

instantly recognisable watches

TAG Heuer Monaco: Of the famous chronographs designed by Jack Heuer, there was a particular piece that attained cult status after it graced the wrist of famed actor Steve McQueen in the film “Le Mans”.

Released in 1969 alongside the Carrera and Autavia, the Monaco stood out for its intriguing and provocative case design; cementing is one of the most instantly recognisable watches in both the worlds of cinema and horology.

Its squared case captured the imaginations of many, but more importantly, it was the first ever water-resistant square watch to be produced. The collection was named after the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix and its status as an iconic sports chronograph was sealed by Mr McQueen himself.

TAG Heuer released a special edition Monaco to mark its appointment as official sponsor and timekeeper of the legendary Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.

The biannual race features over 200 different cars racing across seven events spanning the periods from the 1930s to 1970s.

Clad in the colours of the Monaco Principality flag, the striking red and white colours are reminiscent of motor racing sports cars.

A car emblem at one o’clock reminds one of the watch’s ties with the race and motor racing. Powering the 1000-piece edition is TAG Heuer’s automatic chronograph calibre Heuer 02 that promises performance and precision.

instantly recognisable watches
Rado HyperChrome: Master of materials Rado broke grounds when it released the HyperChrome, the first-ever high-tech ceramic monobloc constructed watch in 2012. The Swiss watchmaker’s mastery in ceramics however, stretches back to 1986 when it successfully sintered a ceramic bracelet.

Ever since, Rado was at the forefront of ceramic development with notable breakthroughs such as the cermet, plasma ceramic and ceramos variants.

The HyperChrome, made from a single block of ceramic became one of the most instantly recognisable watches  from Rado since — sporty and avant-garde design made with high-tech materials for everyday use.

The new Rado HyperChrome Automatic still bears the hallmarks of Rado’s first ceramic watch — futuristic and fluid design with sleek surfaces.

The hint of grey in the plasma high-tech case and bracelet is the result of heating both in a plasma oven to temperatures of 20,000°C. The desirable properties of ceramic — scratch resistance, smoothness and lightness are retained even after the process.

The deep green dial is a nod to Rado’s “Feel It” campaign where one has to experience the watch to understand the tangibles it has sought to develop since the 1980s.

instantly recognisable watches
Tudor Black Bay: To some, blue may be just another colour on the spectrum, but it takes on profound meaning to Tudor. A deep sense of tradition became rooted within the Swiss manufacture after it outfitted a dive watch in blue in 1969.

Since then, it was known as “Tudor Blue” — an aesthetic hallmark that Tudor became synonymous with.

It was not the only element Tudor was famous for. The Tudor Snowflake — so named after the characteristic hour hand shape — is another enduring symbol of Tudor’s rich history in watchmaking and dive watches.

Tudor’s latest release of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” succeeds in capturing the essence of the watchmaker’s famed dive watches. The navy blue elements and snowflake hand are proudly emblazoned on the flagship Black Bay collection.

While the historical references are unmistakable, the neo-vintage Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” is resolutely anchored in the present.

Traditional aesthetics are tempered with contemporary watchmaking techniques; its robustness, reliability, durability and precision are evident in the case construction and Manufacture Calibre MT5402 that beats within the famed blue outfit.

This story first appeared in the August 2020 issue of Men’s Folio Singapore.