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Small watches are sexier
How collabs shaped the watch world; going deep with the Lange 1; Heuer auction results, and more
Back (kind of) after a few slow weeks. A digest of stuff Rescapement’s been up to lately: how collaborations shaped the watch world; small watches are sexier; going deeper with the Lange 1; Heuer auction highlights, and more. Rescapement is a weekly newsletter about watches. If you’re enjoying it, please subscribe:
In which Cartier and Ferrari are simultaneously put on blast
A Collected Man has a great article about how collaborations shaped the modern watch world, courtesy of friend-of-the-show Randy Lai:
“Short of living under a planetoid-sized rock, you may have noticed that in 2021 consumer ‘collaborations’ are everywhere. From the millennial madness of K-Pop themed fast food tie-ins to the now-familiar churn of what feels like the millionth fashion ‘collab’ from Virgil Abloh, today’s society remains demonstrably fascinated with the idea of multiple, distinct personalities – be they brands or individuals – converging to create a singular product.
Of course, despite the collaborative process’s very tangible influence in various strata of pop culture, it is also integral to many storied historical occupations….Point being, wherever there are mutual challenges to surmount and spoils to be shared, collaboration is as inevitable as competition – an observation with uncanny applicability to the world of watches.”
The article points out that, while “collabs” are very much the flavor de jour, it’s actually an ethos that’s at the very heart of the Swiss watch industry — casemakers, movement manufacturers, dial makers, and retailers all coming together to deliver the best luxury product possible. This is where my humble contribution to the article comes in:
“This track record of creative and technical solidarity amongst casemakers, movement manufacturers and retailers – now threatened by the widespread pivot towards ‘in-house’ watchmaking – is one of the industry’s most admirable qualities. ‘There was a certain humility to this approach, says Tony of Rescapement. ‘A renowned casemaker didn’t quibble if their work was ultimately paired to a dial signed Patek, Cartier or Doxa – they took pride from the fact that they were making the best cases possible, and in so doing, contributing to the creation of the ultimate in luxury/practicality for the consumer.’
It goes on to discuss some of the best and worst watch collabs, including an ill-fated 80s mash-up between Cartier and Ferrari.
👉 read the full article on ACM
I teamed up with men’s style newsletter Sprezza to write about why “small watches are sexier.” We highlighted a few of our favorite small watches, including Tyler, The Creator’s recent foray into vintage Cartier with this Must de Tank Cartier from the 1970s. It’s an affordable gold vermeil watch that Cartier targeted at the mass market back when the brand was struggling to survive.
For Tyler, though, the Must is a perfect mix of the high-low aesthetic he’s perfected. We know he’s also got a taste for the finer things, and as it turns out, the Must isn’t the only Cartier he’s fallen in love with recently. He also copped a vintage Cartier Crash.
👉 Head to Sprezza for the full article. And if you’re not, subscribe to Sprezza to get style injected straight into your inbox.
Finally, I wrote an article about a few of my favorite early Lange 1 references over on Subdial. Sure, the original yellow gold Lange 1 from 1994 is fine, but to me the model starts to hit its stride when Lange begins to experiment with white metal cases and different dial colors a few years later.
Of course, this means the grail-worthy steel Lange 1, of which there are 20-something examples. But there’s also the reference 101.027, featuring a deep blue dial and white gold case, and the reference 101.027X, featuring a white gold case and the same dial with printed numerals as you’ll find on the steel Lange 1. This article explores the story behind these two references. Why the obsession over white metal cases, you might ask? Let me explain:
A quick digression before we get much further. To me — nay, objectively speaking — dress watches in precious white metals (platinum and white gold) are, aesthetically, the very pinnacle of watchmaking. Totally understated, but also for those discerning (or shameless) enough to stop and stare for just a moment, there’s more to them than the stainless-steel guise that meets the eye. Indeed, there is a reason why books like Patrizzi’s Cartier Bianco, which explores the magic of mid-century white metal Cartier watches, are just as hard to find as the watches the book takes as its subject.
In another 50 years’ time, white metal watches from this early era of Lange will be the Cartiers Bianco of collectors' collective desires. Imagine at a meetup in 2070: whispering to someone across the table, “you see, this was the first white gold Lange 1 the brand ever produced, way back in 1997.” You whisper it because you’re the elegant type, reticently chic in the way gentlemen were a century prior (not like those garish types from the early 2000s), not one to wear showy yellow gold watches or big stainless steel pieces that might be the object of a lesser man’s desire.
Jeff Stein over at On the Dash has put together a definitive recap of vintage Heuer auction results through the first half of 2021. Here’s how Stein summarizes the state of the Heuer market:
“Looking at the ebbs and flows of the vintage Heuer market over the past five years, we can say that over the first half of 2021 sales of the best vintage Heuer chronographs met with good success. We also seem to be in the midst of a “changing of the guard” or rotation, as some models that were particularly popular in 2016 and 2017 (for example, the 1960s Autavias) settle in at stable prices but in some instances yield the top of the marquee to different models that are emerging as favorites for collectors (for example, the Skipperrera, early Seafarers and 18 karat gold automatic Carreras).”
He goes on to cover Skipperrera results, “test” dials, and more, before offering his expert ruminations on the state of the Heuer market in 2021.
“Perhaps the health of the vintage Heuer market in 2021 is evidenced not so much by the reemergence of the six-figure Heuer, but by a strong layer of ‘grail’ watches changing hands in the range between $50,000 and $100,000,” Stein concludes. “The first half of 2021 saw some excellent watches change hands within this range, in what has become a strong, stable market.”
For the full report, head over to On the Dash. As I’ve mentioned before, Stein’s logical, to-the-point writing is some of my favorite.
Through the Wire
The new AnOrdian precious metal series is killer — enamel dials at <$2k — maybe one of my favorite releases of 2021 so far. Speaking of collabs, the Habring2 x SJX Erwin “Star” is a great one: I love taking inspiration from 1950s Rolex star dials and putting it in modern dress watch form. A 50-piece limited edition, it’s already sold out. One more team-up: running brand Tracksmith and Eric Wind joined forces to highlight a selection of vintage mechanical stopwatches for sale — legendary.
Rescapement is an independent weekly newsletter about watches, mostly vintage. Subscribe now to get it delivered to your inbox every Sunday. Follow us on IG too.