Watches and racecars have been brothers-in-arms, design-wise, for nearly as long as cars have been on the road and timepieces have been worn on the wrist. In the modern era, the relationship between motor racing and timekeeping has gotten even more intimate, with watches developed in close collaboration with car manufacturers becoming more common: Hublot’s partnership with Ferrari springs to mind, as does Roger Dubuis’s team-up with Lamborghini, to name just a few. Giorgio Piola Timepieces, a new watch brand based in Miami, offers a new take on a racing-style watch, not from a car designer but from a fine-art illustrator who has spent 40 years capturing in his meticulous draftsmanship the high-octane essence of Formula One automobiles and their engines.
There are dozens of watch brands, at price points across the board, that produce timepieces inspired by or even developed in cooperation with military units, from Panerai’s divers to IWC’s pilots to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Navy SEALs field watches. There are, on the other hand, just a small handful of brands — most of them on the affordable end of the spectrum — that military professionals and law enforcement officers actually wear on missions. One of the leaders in this category is Luminox, which collaborated with underwater explorer, filmmaker, and seasoned counter-terrorism operative Scott Cassell — you may have seen him in documentaries on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and the BBC, among many others — to produce a special series of professional-grade diving watches in its Deep Dive Automatic collection. I got my hands on one of the latest models in the series and had the chance to speak with Cassell about its origins.
Swatch Group-owned Certina is a Swiss watch brand that few American consumers are familiar with, but it is a company that has long specialized in sports watches, and even has an extensive history, both in the American market and among military personnel. Yet, as was the reality for many historic Swiss manufacturers, the Quartz Crisis of the ‘70s and ‘80s forced the brand to reorganize and re-strategize, in the process largely withdrawing from the United States market.
This is a circumstance that is largely unchanged today, although the brand’s surprising 2018 release of the “new vintage” Certina DS PH200M certainly caught the attention of vintage-watch aficionados across the globe, including in the States. This is a divers’ watch inspired by a 1967 model of the same name, and one using the same DS (Double Security) technology originating from 1959 and used until its discontinuation in 1970. During its time, this tech was one of the distinguishing factors of Certina dive watches, most prominently acting as a thick rubber water seal protecting the movement inside the case, but also working as a shock absorber to larger pressure changes common in deep sea diving.
How did TAG Heuer revamp its 1990s leader model, the iconic Link, for the 21st Century? Find out in this feature from WatchTime’s Design Special 2019.
As decades go, the 1980s and ’90s, an era in which quartz-powered and digital timekeepers were in ascendance while traditional Swiss mechanicals were largely in hibernation, are not nearly as rich in watch design milestones as are the 1960s and ’70s. However, there are always exceptions that prove the rule, one of which is the sporty model that TAG Heuer released in 1987: the TAG Heuer S/El, which evolved in 1999 into its more well-known and popular incarnation, the TAG Heuer Link.