There’s something happening with the watch industry about which you’re bound to find something you like. Why? Because thanks to trend evolution cycling its way through pretty much every imaginable (and one or two previously-thought unimaginable) case shapes, the latest fancy of designers on high seems to be to use them all at once.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that concept is hard to visualise at first, but it’s really very simple. I first became aware of this trend when I was reviewing last year’s Harmony Collection from esteemed watchmakers Vacheron Constantin.
Vacheron Constantin is well known as the longest continuously operational watch company in the world. Whenever they do something new, it’s worth taking note. Quite obviously, their melding of classic forms into something quite traditionally and yet simultaneously very modern, has struck a chord with a few of their horological contemporaries.
There is no prescribed need for a watch crystal to be round, but recent trends have seen a predominance of this shape flood the market. Because of this, cases tend to be round also, but that is not essential, even when sticking with a circular sapphire. As we can see in Panerai’s classic cushion-shaped case, the fusion of shapes can be very rewarding when done correctly. But it takes guts to mess with the blueprint. Those kind of risks can set a brand apart, imbue an otherwise muted dial with strength and character. It’s shooting for the moon, but a shot worth taking.
Vacheron Constantin are heading the trend seen recently in efforts by Le Rhone and Louis Vuitton LV55, of utilising multiple shapes and contrasting silhouettes in the same piece. Far from a mollycoddling tactic designed to pacify all-comers, this is a bold re-imagining of forms, a step into the sculptural realm, a chance for haute horlogerie to unbridle itself from years of reserved rhomboids, stuffy squares, and conservative circles.
And the thing I really like about these pieces is this: They will age well. They are, in my opinion, about as safe a bold design can get. Why? Because they don’t mess with conventions; they marry them. There is classic beauty and a youthful disrespect about the Harmony range. That’s a pretty much impossible balance to strike, but if any brand was capable of pulling it out of the bag it had to be Vacheron Constantin.
It’s quite possible we’ll see a lot more watches that utilise shapes within shapes to frame their mechanical marvels. It’s a simple, geometrically comfortable way of adding visual interest to an oftentimes neglected aspect of a watch’s personality. If you’re looking to invest in something a little different, but dedicatedly classical, check out this trend. You’re bound to like at least one of the shapes on show!