By Shaun Bell, managing director of Joshua James Jewellery and The Watch Depot.
In the last decade, time, it seemed, was running out for the wristwatch. With mobiles, iPods and other clock-equipped devices everywhere, the antiquated wristwatch was consigned by many to the scrap heap of outmoded gadgets.
The Times famously declared the watch would “go the same way as the sundial”, whilst doom mongers took heart in the results of a national survey that concluded one in seven people in the UK had no need for a watch.
Of course, the demise of the wristwatch has not only been greatly exaggerated, it’s just plain wrong. This modern-day sundial happens to be experiencing yet another renaissance. Only this summer, The New York Times declared: “Right now there is no clearer indication of cool than wearing a watch. The menswear set has recently rediscovered the joy of proper mechanical timepieces.”
This cool factor is the principle reason why watch retailers are as busy today as at any time. And we are not just talking about pricey watches for the older, more affluent; things are perfectly healthy within the younger, mid-range market.
Furthermore, as younger people mature and accrue more cash, their attitudes change and the appeal becomes much deeper than the mere desire for another fashion accessory. Increasingly, we are finding a much more widespread appeal for the elegance, class and technical perfection of a Skagen or Rotary.
It seems, in a world surrounded by ever-glowing LCD screens, there’s an analogue chic to watch-wearing. An instrument that is composed of so many mechanical moving parts has a different appeal to someone born into this generation.
People are returning to heritage and craftsmanship; things that are well-made. Indeed, much can be said for the renewed appeal in the intimacy between the wearer and the mechanical watch with a ticking heartbeat that relies as much on you as you rely on it.
This isn’t some Luddite rant about the dangers of progress. It’s about the watch sitting very comfortably with a consumer that simultaneously demands high technology and high fashion, practicality and personality. For this reason, I feel everything points to the watch having more than time on its side.