5 Iconic Timepieces From the Past 75 Years

Author David Millette
Date Jul 12, 2015

Watch makers are always trying to one-up their competitors and one-up themselves. People want new, interesting watches every year; it's just the nature of the watch world. Well most years, these new watches come in the form of upgraded versions of the models that a company has already been selling for years.

But every once in a while, watch makers will surprise us with a brand new model of watch. When this happens, there are usually new features that they believe will make the watch an icon.

I'm a huge fan of watch history and love learning what it takes to make an iconic watch. I understand that not everyone has the time to learn about watch history, so I've come up with a short list of what I view as several of the most iconic timepieces from the past 75 years to help you easily learn about the top watches. Give the list a read and find out what made these iconic models what they are today:

1952: Breitling - Navitimer

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Navitimer from 1954 (left) Current Navitimer (right)

Breitling's invention of the chronograph wrist watch marked the start of their relationship with the aviation industry. But it wasn't until 1952 when they designed the iconic Navitimer that they went all in on developing instruments for the professional. The Navitimer was designed with a busy dial which was capable of handling every calculation necessary for a pilot. This was an instant favorite amongst the aviation community as it cut down on the number of tools they needed and kept everything in one convenient location.

The photograph above shows a Navitimer from 1954, and as you can see, the logo appears to be slightly different than the Breitling logo you see on the current model. That's because this is the logo of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, who worked with Breitling to design the watch and promoted it as the ultimate accessory for their members.

1953: Rolex - Submariner

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Rolex Submariner from 1957 (left) Rolex Submariner from 2014 (right)

In 1953, Rolex changed the watch industry with its creation of the first ever dive watch, dubbed the Submariner. At the time, the Submariners ability to be water resistant up to 100 meters was a first in the watch industry. Combine that with a rotating bezel which allowed you to track the amount of time that has passed since a given moment and you've got yourself the perfect tool for scuba diving.

Following its massive success within the diving community, the watch was re-branded to be the ultimate watch for any occasion with the assistance of Sean Connery, who sported one during his role as James Bond. This was a wildly successful campaign which started a long line of Submariner look-alikes' that aimed to piggy bank on Rolex's success.

1956: Rolex - Day Date

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Rolex Day Date from 1956 (left) Rolex Day Date from 2015 (right)

A luxury watch should be precise, elegant, and functional, and that's exactly what Rolex was created when they released the Day Date back in 1956. Having an automatic-mechanical dial with two additional day and date disks was a first in the watch industry. All of these features gave the Day Date a large appearance on the wrist, and since it was offered exclusively in 18K gold or platinum, it was impossible to overlook.

Along with having a complex movement and elegant design, the Day Date was the first Rolex to offer an upgrade to a concealed clasp band called the President Band. The band was appropriately named, as the watch was worn by seven presidents, earning the Day Date the official nickname of "The President." It is now considered to be the ultimate accessory for influential people.

1969: Tag Heuer - Monaco

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Tag Heuer Monaco from 1969 (left) Tag Heuer Monaco from 2015 (right)

In 1969, Tag Heuer changed the way that we viewed watches when they released the Monaco in honor of the Monaco Grand Prix. The bold design and race car inspiration caught the eye of Steve McQueen who wore it during his hit movie Le Mans. His notorious bad boy persona made this watch a sensation.

The revolutionary timepiece was more than just a marketing stunt gone right though, as its unique square design was something that was brand new to luxury watch makers. In fact, the Monaco was the first square watch to have a water resistant case, automatic movement, and chronograph. So sure it was fortunate that they landed the product in the perfect placement, but if the watch didn't have an exciting new design that people wanted to have, it would have never been the legend that it is today.

2015: Breitling - B55 Connected

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Earlier in this list I talked about the Breitling Navitimer and how it became an iconic piece by helping pilots calculate and record flight data. Well staying true to their roots, Breitling has released yet another watch for these pilots that is the first to utilize a feature that in my opinion will be viewed as the most revolutionary watch feature since the invention of the quartz movement. The watch is named the B55 Connected, and it is the first chronograph that incorporates bluetooth connection to your smart phone to make the ultimate pilot's watch.

The B55 Connected may tether to a cellphone, but unlike most smart watches, it isn't designed to play games, surf the web, or send your heart beat to a friend. Instead, the B55 Connected uses its smart features to record flight data, sync the data to your phone, and organize that data in an easily navigable app. They have called this new breed of watch a "connected watch" and believe that people will see the value in increased utility rather than the increased distraction of a smart watch.

If you are interested in seeing the latest models of any of these iconic timepieces, you can schedule an appointment at one of our five locations. Once you arrive one of our watch specialists will be happy to help you try one on and teach you about the watches features.

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