Originally Posted by Hayward
If heritage as a reflection of brand is the only reason to buy a watch then we're really stuck with a few limited choices, aren't we? And what happens when an established brand goes off the reservation in some way, such as Zenith did, or some might argue Rolex has?
"What happens when an established brand goes off the reservation in some way, such as Zenith," poses an interesting question/example. We can't say there was a lack of quality, they make great movements. However, I think with any brand there can be innovation and evolution, there is complete disregard for beauty, design, heritage...and then there is complete cluster f*ck! We all have different taste, and while I appreciate the creativity and going beyond what is conventional, brands like Urwerk, MB&F, Vianney Halter...seem to disregard traditional aesthetics and beauty and they just aren't appealing to my eye.
Zenith headed down complete cluster f*ck road and has only managed to improve its image by getting rid of those ridiculous designs that came about during Naft's reign. Now we see them focusing again on more traditional looking pieces.
Relative to the general discussion about history and heritage.... I see nothing wrong with appreciating the history and the heritage of a brand. Is it the most important thing no, of course not. There are lots of factors that we use in making a decision. I personally appreciate the history of a brand, its heritage, and its contributions to horology. I think to disregard those factors is on some level to discredit the value of several brands. Its focuses then only on what is current, which is fine, but I enjoy seeing the journey that a company has made. If that means I drink the Kool-aid and believe in elves ... I don't care. If that makes some people throw up just a little, it doesn't bother me.
Obviously, we are all free to ignore the history of a brand or a watch, but watch companies know that it matters to many collectors. Just look at their advertising. PP has people passing watches down from generation to generation. VC tells you that they had been in business for X number of years when we first had rail roads or went to the moon, and brands celebrate their anniversaries with watches such as the Reverso 1931, the Annversary Sub, the return of a very similar to original ultra thin RO, and Pilot watch designs from several brands intending to look like the watches of the 1940s. Then we have the Granddaddy of iconic/kool-aid ads...the Moon Watch. I see tons of people that bandy about the fact that they bought a Speedy Pro, the only watch ever to be worn on the moon. Its a great watch, no doubt about it. However, several other watches have been worn in space, its been decades since a Speedy Pro has been to the moon, and the movement isn't the same as what was in it when it went to the moon. Its a great watch, I love the history behind it, and I have seen plenty of owners mention the fact that its been to the moon quite proudly. Would it be a key selling point to me, no, but adds a little flavor to a sporty watch, and clearly it does help Omega sell watches.
I also find that those that often know little about a brand's history and heritage are often the quickest to criticize a brand. One of the most common examples, are people that say Cartier isn't a real watch company, and that they are just a jewelry company. Often they have no idea that Cartier was making wrist watches when several other brands were still stuck in the mindset of focusing on pocket watches. That the Tank design, while often copied by other top brands, is a design Cartier came up with nearly 100 years ago. While their mainstream watches use basic ETAs (often used by other respected brands), Cartier has a history of producing some very fine watches in collaboration with fine movement makers (something people forget Rolex did, because Rolex eventually bought their movement makers).
Someone mention not liking when people say they bought something because its iconic, but I wonder if that is relative to the person buying it because that person sees the word iconic as a status symbol, or because in general they don't like someone buying something for its possible history/heritage. Personally, I don't like someone buying something just because something is a status symbol. Maybe because things bought as a status symbols are often done so to impress others, and are purchased by people understanding or appreciating little about the item, its solely for making an impact on others. Which I think makes they buyer a pretty sad individual. However, I don't mind buying something iconic because of its place in history. I wanted a luxury sports watch, I looked at various models, from various brands. I narrowed it down to a few and decided, after looking at many, considering the quality, workmanship, movement, and beauty, and decided I wanted the original that created that genre, the ultra thin RO/Jumbo. There are lots of great brands that created their own version Patek's Nautilus, IWCs Jumbo Ingenieur SL, GP Laureato, VC's 222, Chopard's St. Moritz. To me, the RO is iconic because it was the original steel luxury sports watch.
My thoughts above, are by no means to state that history or heritage are the most important factors in buying a watch, but merely to state that for me, I find them to be a factor I consider along with quality, workmanship, movement, and beauty. The factors you use may vary, and that's helps us each build interesting but diverse collections.