The phrase “tool watch” was originally coined to describe watches that serve as tools to accomplish specific tasks, such as a divers’ watch with a rotatable bezel and high resistance to pressure that is designed to be used underwater. And while you wouldn’t want to use these tool watches to hammer nails, they emphasize functionality and are robust, accurate, legible and (ideally) not excessively expensive in case they suffer a scratch or two during rough usage. In this article from our archives, we present eight of them.
In a follow-up to its enduringly popular Heritage 1945 and interesting Heritage Military watches, released in 2017 and 2018, respectively, Longines this fall has opted to release another retro-look timepiece evocative of the 1930s and ’40s. The new Heritage Classic “Sector Dial” is a modern reissue of a 1934 “Calatrava”-style sector-dial model currently residing in Longines’ museum (pictured below, vintage model left, modern model right).
These “Calatrava” models— which historically is a complicated designation based on Patek Phillipe’s cross logo but colloquially has come to describe any small 1930s-1940s dress watch— featured common designs of their era and have come to symbolize some of the most cherished qualities of all vintage watches among enthusiasts. These qualities notably include the compact sizes around 32 mm; the straightforward, balanced design, and their impressive longevity, some being almost 90 years old and still ticking. The contemporary re-issue we see today is missing both the age and size, but nonetheless seems to have already struck a chord among watch writers and enthusiasts alike.
When Tutima returned after a long Cold war hiatus to its birthplace in the German watchmaking town of Glashütte, in the state of Saxony, it also began re-establishing itself as a maker of elegant, luxurious timepieces, in precious metal cases with lavishly decorated in-house calibers, after years of being known primarily as a purveyor of classically styled pilots’ watches with outsourced movements. The Patria collection began in grand style, with the unveiling of the Hommage Minute Repeater, the first minute repeater built entirely in Glashütte, in 2011, and has since grown to include a two-hander with small seconds, a model with a power reserve display, and the watch I had a chance to wear recently, the Tutima Patria Dual Time.
The British won the war but lost their watchmaking. Though watchmaking had existed in Switzerland as a cottage industry since the Age of Enlightenment, the Swiss did not truly dominate commercial watchmaking until World War II when the neutral country freely used resources – from metals to skilled labor to capital – that other countries fighting the war had strictly rationed. Swiss watch firms took on profitable contracts to build countless mil-spec watches for both the Axis and the Allies, and business was good. The British outsourced most of their watchmaking to the Swiss while producing Spitfire aircraft, bombs, tanks and other cutting-edge military products back home that Winston Churchill famously, and correctly, deemed essential to victory. Seen in this light, the massive reduction in British commercial watchmaking during and after WWII appears more noble sacrifice than miscalculated fumble.
For the fourth time this year, TAG Heuer is releasing a limited-edition model in the commemorative quintet series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Monaco series. This latest model is inspired by the period between 1999 and 2009, and comes on the heels of the 1989-1999, 1979-1989, and 1969-1979 models, each released earlier in summer 2019. TAG Heuer has been releasing each of these watches in symbolic locations and, for this edition, chose Japan. The brand argues the country and its modern design schools are reflective of a traditionally-inspired contemporary style, and believes this an ethos this most recent Monaco shares.
“Success has many fathers,” the old saying goes, “while failure is an orphan.” The origins of this aphorism are unclear, but the Parmigiani Toric Hémisphères Rétrograde, which took home the prize for Best Travel Time Watch at the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), can certainly be deemed a success, and the “many fathers” concept is a truism when one considers how the timepiece came to be, and the diverse artisans involved. In this feature from our August 2019 issue, we trace the origins of the watch through each of the five workshops within the Parmigiani Manufacture.