Watch trends throughout history

Watch trends throughout history

A luxury timepiece speaks volumes. Since their creation in 1868 men’s wrist watches have come to be more than a tool for telling the time. A premium watch will always be the pinnacle of class and beauty, but each decade brings with it a new trend and style. Looking back at the evolution of the men’s wristwatches, here are our highlights from the beginning of the 20th Century to the modern day.

Wrist watches were first used as a symbol of status and sophistication for the ruling elite.The first watch ever made was a decorative piece created by Swiss manufacturer Patek Philippe for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary. It wasn’t until the 20th century that watches were produced for men.


World War l is what spurred the breakthrough of the wristwatch for men. Soldiers needed a quickly readable timepiece that didn’t need to be tucked away in the pocket of their uniform and so the wrist watch was popularised. For front line soldiers these watches were typically equipped with a protective metal grid to protect the delicate craftsmanship. Watches of this time were not yet shatterproof so care was taken to cover the glass and crystal design. Once the war ended men across the world began to embrace the ease and efficiency of the everyday wrist watch.

(Source: Bloomberg)

1920s & 30’s 

The roaring 20’s is when wrist watches truly came into their own. For the first time timepieces were celebrated not for their functionality but their fashion. New and interesting shapes emerged in the Art Deco era and trailblazers like Louis Cartier sketched their first designs. The Cartier Tank introduced the elongated “cintrée” shape in 1921 while the 1930’s favoured a rectangular style  ‘Reverso’ produced by LeCoultre. Major technical advances were also made in this era including water resistance and the development of the self winding movement.

1940’s and 50’s

The outbreak of World War II affected all aspects of life and the watchmaking industry was no different. Watches from this time were mostly produced by the armed forces and so favoured a simple and strong design. Constructed in steel cases with black dials, wrist watches were made to be easily read and adjusted in battle. The 1950’s brought improvements in watch technology, watches became more accurate thanks to the post war advancement in tools and practices. Many important watches were released at this time including the Omega Constellation and Breitling Navitmer, but none was more influential than the Rolex Submariner. Debuted in 1953 it kickstarted the era of round, sporty style wrist watches.

(Source: Watch Time

1960’s and 70s

A transition period in the watch industry. Watch movements continued to improve and by the 1970’s electronic watches were overtaking mechanical models. For the first time Rolex surpassed Omega for market share, and Quartz watches began to dominate. Battery powered LED watches were more accurate and could be bought at a much lower price. So by the end of the decade mechanical watches were seen as a relic of the past. This transition is now known as the ‘quartz crisis’.

1980’s and 90’s 

The 80’s brought with it another shift in watchmaking. Swiss watch companies commanded the industry, and the mechanical watches that were once seen as relics were now collectibles. Mechanical watch makers marketed their timepieces as luxury items creating a new generation of watch enthusiasts. Their design contrasted perfectly with the popular bright coloured plastic and Swatch watches of the electronic industry.

(Source : Artsy)

2000’s & 2010’s

In the past two decades the industry has introduced a vast range of new designs and styles. The most popular release of early 2000’s was that of Hublot’s Big Bang, it’s bold and diverse design made the Hublot brand synonymous with Swiss luxury. The favoured brand among footballers and athletes, Hubot’s Big Band collection has since released  many limited edition options.The 2010’s saw a new trend of revealing the inner workings of a watch, with dials soon being eliminated altogether. The most recognisable of which is the Richard Mille McLaren option, its innovative open design defined the decade.

Men’s watches are ever evolving and 2020 is sure to bring with it an exciting array of new trends. That said, a well made luxury timepiece will always stay in style. Shop our wide selection of designs, shapes and accessories to find your favourite collection today.

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