Retro Wristwatches for Modern Men
by roberta naas
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: A favorite with pilots, this Breitling Aerospace ($4,095) offers many functions, including 1/100th of a second chronograph, countdown, dual time zone, alarm, and audible time indication. The timepiece also features analog time via oversize hands and a system of NVG-compatible display backlighting. The high-performance SuperQuartz movement is a COSC-certified chronometer. Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., 305-935-9350
The Tissot T-Touch Expert ($1,175) joins the Touch Collection that was first unveiled 14 years ago. This quartz-powered watch provides 16 touch-activated functions (operated by touching the crown and screen in different places), including air pressure, altitude, compass, thermometer, and two alarms. Goldtime, 531 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-534-8897
From Chopard, and inspired by the designs of the 1970s, this Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Time Attack MF watch ($5,690) represents the first time that the brand has equipped its Grand Prix de Monaco with a quartz movement and chronograph. It is a COSC-certified chronometer offering multiple functions that include split-second chronograph and multi-time and alarm functions on its digital screen at 6:00. Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-868-8626
From Citizen, this Eco-Drive Promaster SST ($650) is a 1/1000th-second chrono. It offers split lap time, 20-lap memory, world time in 43 cities, alarm, and 99-minute countdown timer in stainless-steel black ion plating with ana-digital display and a red LED backlight. Rainbow Jewelry, 101 NE First Ave., Miami, 305-371-2289.
A glance at the alarm clock on the night table reveals glowing numerals that illuminate time. For some, that same feature on a wristwatch can be an inviting asset—especially as fine watch brands offer superior choices in LCD (liquid crystal display) digital wristwatches. Now digital and analog-digital combination watches (ana-digis, which integrate analog hands for time telling and digital readouts for other indications) are no longer relegated to the drugstore kiosk, but instead that segment of the industry is steadily climbing into the price point of the hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars realm.
As luxury brands try to offer more functions in their timepieces, these high-tech, high-end, high-style LCD digital and ana-digi watches are finding favor with the affluent, fashion-forward Miami set. “Today’s high-end digital and analog-digital watches have multiple functions that allow these timepieces to become true instruments,” says Marc Hruschka, president and CEO of Chopard USA. “Our Grand Prix de Monaco Historique watch is especially coveted by Miami sports enthusiasts and world travelers.”
Essentially, a digital watch is one that displays the time with numerals or digits as opposed to with hands pointing to numbers on the dial (analog). “Digital” refers only to the numeric readout, not to the mechanism that powers the watch. In fact, even high-end mechanical watches can have “digital” indications of time, but it is often done with digits marked on mechanical disks that rotate or turn. The electronic digital and ana-digi watches currently making a resurgence in the luxury market are those that feature LCD and are powered by quartz.
While electronic digital clocks have been on the market for more than half a century, their digital wristwatch counterparts are younger. In fact, the first-ever electronic digital wristwatch was mass-produced and unveiled to the world in 1972 at a whopping cost of about $2,100 (equivalent to approximately $11,500 today).
The original digital timepiece—the Hamilton Pulsar LED—was startlingly alluring, as it displayed time in bright red numbers via a light-generating system of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). To see the time indication, the user had to press a button on the watch. The then-new technology had been years in the development stages, thereby making it naturally expensive to market the watch at retail.
A watch lighting up to tell the time caught the attention of consumers, and manufacturers set their sights on perfecting the technology in order to lower the price point. By late 1975, digital watches retailed for less than $100 and, not too long thereafter, for less than $50. As the price declined, the novelty of LED watches wore off, and people became disenchanted with the fact that one needed a free hand to push a button to see the time. Sales dropped drastically, leading watch brands to seek other alternatives.
The next incarnation of digital watches, arriving on the scene in the late 1970s, was more user-friendly, with a liquid crystal display. Whereas the LED watch was light-generating, the LCD version was light-reflective, and with a constant display of time, the user didn’t have to push buttons. LCD digital watches reached the height of their popularity by 1980, as many were being equipped with additional features such as alarms and timers. The introduction of the first quartz watch in 1982 led to a revolution that made both consumers and watchmakers forget about LCD timepieces; the category later became a catchall for extremely inexpensive watches.
Today, however, fine LCD digital watches have found a niche market around the world as instruments of precision for timekeeping and added functions. Active Miamians can rely on these timepieces as their go-to clocks to satisfy all their needs—from navigating between the Bal Harbour Shops and South Beach, figuring out whether the temperature is warm enough for an optimal day on the ocean, and even monitoring dive depths. Companies such as Breitling, Citizen, Omega, and Tissot have developed technology that offers multifunction LCD digital indications or combines analog hands for the time with LCD digital readouts of other information. Additional enhanced functions include compass directions, temperature indications, alarms, multiple time zones, calendars, calculators, tachometers, altimeters, dive depths, countdowns, and even slide-rule calculations.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF GALE; STYLING BY TERRY LEWIS