While some watch collectors geek out on movements and mechanics, others go all-in for aesthetics: form, color, texture, finish, and details. "The design qualities spoke loudest during the 1960s and 1970s, watchmaking's golden age of experimentation in the avant-garde," posit Josh Sims and Matt Grenblatt in Retro Watches: The Modern Collectors' Guide, recently published by Thames & Hudson, and available to order on Amazon.
This period "may not have produced out-and-out watch classics—designs acclaimed as timeless, historic, mimicked by copyists ever since. Indeed," they note, "many of their makers themselves were short-lived. But it did produce watches that were, put simply, very cool."
In part "because they are unlike almost anything available new on the market today: oddities bearing unfamiliar names, from a narrow window of unfamiliar times—the late 1960s and early 1970s—made in low numbers, in a left-field style that had fallen out of favor by the end that decade, leaving unsold inventory ready to be snapped up by collectors hungry for watches with a difference."
That certainly describes many of the watches in this indispensable reference guide, most of them from the collection of Mr. Greenblatt, co-founder and CEO of Watches.com. The gorgeously-designed book features over 300 images that present the piquant pieces in all their glory.
Not all of the designs are way out there, though most wouldn't look out of place in an early-'70s Roger Moore Bond film. Some of the groovier Rolex Oysters from that era as well as some relatively classic Jaeger-LeCoultres make the cut.
Over 100 watches are featured in all, and the book goes into detail on the context of cultural phenomena, fashion trends, and technological advances that influenced the designs of the pieces. This comes courtesy of Mr. Sims, one of the best and most prolific writers on men's style today.
Whether you're well on your way to a world-class retro watch collection, or simply considering acquiring your first piece, this is an essential guide that is as enchanting and entertaining as it is informative and attractive.