There are two ways you can learn about what’s hot in the watch market.
One: by what’s happening in the lofty heights of premier shows and specialist markets.
And two: by what’s on the shelves of the supermarkets & outlet shops.
Take either one of these on their own, though, and you only get a portion of the whole picture. At the top, you only see trends as dictated by watchmakers, according to their own style and heritage.
And at the bottom, you only see the high-street brands interpretation of what’s hot, influenced by budget and mainstream fashion trends.
The key, then, if we want to figure out the leading watch trends for 2018, is combining them both together, taking a step back, and analysing the landscape as a whole.
1. Busy Chronographs
As a titan of wristwear that is as functional as it is good looking, chronographs will always be on trendy — no matter if you shop at Primark or Christie’s.
Even if it’s today not used for its original purpose —timing — there’s something about the busy dial and solid construction of a chronograph that still looks at home on the wrist of a modern man. The Omega Speedmaster Professional, which has played a part in six trips to the moon, is the perfect example of this.
This vintage Speedmaster, in particular, comes with a tachymeter for measuring speed and distance, a black dial with luminous batons for visibility in all lighting conditions, and a stainless steel case and matching bracelet.
2. Full Black-Out
Every brand from Vacheron Constantin and Panerai to Breitling have their own take on the full black-out watch. And in 2018, many more fashion brands and major watchmakers are getting in on the action.
You’d be fooled by thinking that just any watch can pull off the style, though. Sport watches like the Breitling Colt Skyracer, built with a black carbon case, dial, and rubber strap, carry it better than any other thanks to their utility and functional design. The Colt Skyracer also happens to be the cheapest, lightest, and most precise Breitling around — making it suitable for a range of budgets.
One of the biggest watch trends for 2018 is new models that are historically influenced by styles such as the Art Deco of the 20s and the angular lines of the 70s.
But it’s not just about appearances; people are looking for a way to remember the times when life was much simpler and slower, when watches were built to last and their sole purpose wasn’t for checking if you’re late for a meeting.
So, rather than spending thousands on a modern interpretation or take on an old style, more people are releasing they can buy a genuine piece of watchmaking history that costs less, lasts longer, and looks and feels incredible on the wrist. You can never go wrong by picking up a luxury vintage watch from a brands such as Rolex, Omega, and Vacheron Constantin.
4. Not Smart But Mechanical
Last year, Apple announced it overtook Rolex to become the number one watchmaker in the world. This could be disputed depending on your definition of ‘watch’. However, what can’t be disputed is that the boom in the smartwatch industry is causing a huge surge in interest in all things mechanical.
At this year’s SIHH, we saw watch manufacturers take a greater focus on precision, quality, design, with an emphasis on craftsmanship. These are the factors that stand watchmakers apart from the modern tech companies, and that can never be replicated no matter how ‘smart’ a watch becomes.
As we’ve mentioned it, let’s take Rolex, the biggest watchmaker in the world, as an example. Models such as the Sea-Dweller range demonstrate the epitome of craftsmanship and quality. The ultra-resistant dive watches are built to function up to a depth of 4000 feet and 3 metric tonnes of water pressure, yet features highly intricate details that mean it wouldn’t look out of place at a dinner party.