Over the last week there were two new watch releases, which were very different, yet they used a similar formula for success. The two watches are the Omega Seamaster 300 SPECTRE Limited Edition, and the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 Chronograph. And of course, the formula they used is: give the people what they want.
It doesnít sound very difficult, ďgive the people what they want.Ē However, I get frustrated at times with a lot of the new releases from across the industry. I understand the big watchmakers are selling a ton of watches, so maybe Iím way off base, but I donít know what theyíre thinking sometimes. Putting aside new releases, whatís even more confusing is all the things they could have released, but didnít. Iím talking about missing obvious slam-dunks.
One of the most notable offenders is Rolex, and a steel ďPaul NewmanĒ Daytona as their potential slam-dunk. Rolex fans have been asking for this Daytona for years. Just make it already! As big and powerful as Rolex is, at this point, I think they could take over the world if they did a Newman Dial Daytona re-issue. It would sell out in record time. It baffles me why they wonít just humor us. Then you have Patek Philippe. With how scorching hot their vintage steel models are in the auction world, why not throw us a bone? Hell, they didn’t even make their new pilot watch in steel. They could take just about any model in their lineup, dress it up in a steel case, and then sell the hell out of it. Of those that could afford it, who wouldnít want a steel reference 5170 with an enamel sector dial? Iím drooling just thinking about it. I donít mean to pick on Rolex and Patek alone, because I could do this with any brand, but they happened to pop into my head.

Back a few months ago, I wrote a piece on how Omega could ďfixĒ the limited edition James Bond watches, and they seemed to catch the general idea (whether on purpose or not) with the SPECTRE Limited Edition. Omega stuck with a reference that worked, didnít over-brand it with Bond logos, and added a couple of crowd-pleasing quirks. Is it anything special? Not really. But I bet it sells like hot cakes. As a Bond fan, this is the first special edition Iíd love to wear. I think Omega has done a lot of things right in the last few years, and this is another great example. Hopefully they can turn this into a trend with future Bond releases.

Vacheronís latest release, the Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 Chronograph, was a great move by the storied watchmaker. I love the look of Vacheron dress watches and chronographs, but the case sizes have gotten too large for the most part. The Traditionelle Chronograph should be a perfect watch on paper, but the 42mm diameter doesnít look right. Downsizing to 38.5mm for the Historiques brings it into the sweet spot, especially considering the small diameter of the caliber 1142. The dial is very well balanced, and the cow horn lugs are a bold choice that should leverage vintage chronograph fans. I was pretty excited when I saw pictures of the VC in my inbox, but I also wondered what took them so long! The last time they produced such a beautiful chronograph in the same vein was over 10 years ago with the reference 47101/47111 Historiques Chronograph. Hereís an idea: just keep it in your lineup permanently! With the buzz created by the watch blogosphere in the last two days, youíd think Vacheron would catch on. If they do, itís always better late than never.
I spend a lot of my time scrutinizing watches across the industry, so maybe Iím over-analyzing. However, I canít shake the thought that the brands could make smarter design choices without much effort. I understand the need for continuing to try new designs to keep things moving forward, but failing to slam home the alley-oops we throw up is frustrating. Give the people what they want! Omega and Vacheron Constantin did well with their latest releases, so hereís to hoping we see more of it going forward.
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