It’s nice, the new TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition. And please don’t misunderstand “nice” here! Contrary to popular belief, “nice” is not the little sister of “sh*t”, but its meaning fits perfectly with the TAG Heuer Carrera: it’s inoffensive, it’s doable, and nobody’s feathers will be ruffled. Of course you do have to defend the watch industry a little, as the average watch buyer is not always such a simple creature. New avant-garde designs can frighten him, and therefore pose a certain risk for manufacturers. On the other hand, turning to proven designs often brings the accusation of lack of ideas (this does not apply to Rolex, of course, for whom anyway a whole different set of rules apply).
So what to do? A common tactic is to rework older models, ones so long past that they are no longer on the watchmaking community’s radar. You don’t have to come up with a new design, which would involve higher costs and might drive away the brand’s fans. At the same time, you aren’t tying in with direct predecessor models, thereby avoiding the accusation of uninspired and largely unchanged recycling. In addition, the trend towards vintage-inspired watches is still going strong.
But certain things cannot be achieved with this approach: a new classic, an icon or even a further development of the watch industry as a whole. With the Big Bang, Hublot has demonstrated that bold new designs can be worthwhile. And it should not be forgotten that some of today’s most popular models represented radically new designs when they were introduced, and were anything but a safe bet. This is best illustrated by the Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, which had real difficulties starting out. But a chronograph designed closely after the prototype, as is the case with the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition, is unlikely to be the next Royal Oak. Of course, a 160 year anniversary would tempt a house to look back at their history, dig into the archives and create a new edition of their own classic. But why not look instead in the other direction? According to the motto “for the next 160 years,” a look into the future can also be the right approach. Those original timepieces which now serve as models were exactly that: in technology and design, watches of their time, naturally keeping their time, if not the future, in mind. In the best case, they embodied innovative ideas which might have sometimes failed, but which always had the potential to create a new style, even a new standard, in design and / or technology.
The watch industry’s next anniversaries are not too far off. It is hoped that these occasions will be used more to look ahead rather than behind. This would be good for the diversity and the further development of the watch world as a whole. Otherwise, at some point “nice” may indeed just be the little sister of “sh*t”.