A L’Emeraude Re-Edition Watches: How To Choose Them Well
The market for re-edition watches is on a roll — and going strong.
Even relatively young brands are getting in on the action, releasing so-called “re-editions” from a time when they didn’t yet exist! If you’re thinking of getting yourself one of these timepieces, discernment and prudence should be your watchwords. Follow our guide for the best tips on how to pick the right one for you.
When you’ve been in business since 1909, like in the case of A L’Emeraude boutique, vintage and re-edition watches are automatically a part of your story. When the great icons of watchmaking were born — the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, the Breitling Navitimer, the IWC Portugieser — A L’Emeraude was already there, witnessing their creation. Today, these watches are part of the larger fabric of watchmaking heritage. Their creators have not overlooked the fact that vintage designs are trending again. On the contrary, they have capitalised on this trend and brought several reinterpretations of archival models back to the market. Some of them work excellently, others less so. But is this merely a question of subjective opinion? Perhaps not; in the world of vintage re-editions, there are rules. The following watches, all of which can be found at A L’Emeraude, illustrate perfectly these unspoken (but essential!) laws of vintage re-edition watchmaking.
The First Commandment: Thou shalt respect tradition
In its early days, the watch was functional: built for a precise purpose and for a specific audience. Examples are the military watch (the use of which led to the widespread adoption of the wristwatch), the doctor's watch, etc. Each watch had its specific use. When eyeing a re-edition watch based on one of these early timepieces, the first commandment is therefore to respect its original spirit. Choose a watch that stays true to its history. The strength of a watch, and therefore its value, is its consistency over time. For instance, let’s look at the reissue of the Breitling AVI.
Reissue of the Breitling AVI © Breitling
The Le Chaux-de-Fonds-based manufacture has long been dedicated to aviation. Its timepieces reflect this commitment. Therefore, when the brand reissued its Co-Pilot AVI 765, it made every effort to stay consistent with history. Breitling very clearly specifies the year of creation of the model, "AVI Ref. 765 - 1953", immediately followed by "Re-edition". The hyphen is important: Breitling is operating a second edition of its original model, not an inspiration, nor a "vintage inspiration". The glass is therefore in curved Hesalite (acrylic), not sapphire. The dial features the same Arabic numerals as those of the original Co-Pilot of 1953. The Super-LumiNova was chosen to recall the original luminescent coating. The steel case is also identical to the historical model, the bezel being secured by three screws placed in exactly the same positions as those on the 1953 watch.
Co-Pilot AVI 765 © Breitling
The Second Commandment: Honour thy time
Respecting tradition does not mean you have to stay stuck in the past. If watches have survived through the decades to become iconic, it is because they were themselves on the cutting edge, in their time. Recontextualising a watch in modernity is how we prove our faithfulness to its forerunner. It is not a crime to evolve a period watch: on the contrary, we make it worthy of meeting the challenges of its time.
Master Control Memovox © Jaeger-LeCoultre
Jaeger-LeCoultre is making this clear at the moment. The Le Sentier brand has developed a major campaign, The Sound Maker, which focuses on its chiming and alarm timepieces. And the Master Control Memovox is precisely the example of a timepiece that draws its roots from the 1960s and projects them successfully into the 21st century, with the progress that this implies, while remaining faithful to its founding principle — in this case a simple, legible, precise, highly reliable watch with an alarm. However, following the same principle of renewal, the manual movement of the time has now been made automatic. The revised Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 956 also features a new hammer that strikes the gong on the periphery of the case, instead of a caseback-mounted mechanism. The Jaeger-LeCoultre warranty has also kept pace with progress: they now offer eight years of guaranteed quality!
Calibre 956 © Jager-LeCoultre
The Third Commandment: Preserve thy trade
Respecting the watch’s original purpose and keeping up with the times: none of this would be possible if the watchmakers no longer had their foundational skills. It is the responsibility of the brands to maintain their know-how. This is why reissues are a great opportunity to update in-house skills. Choosing to reissue a new edition also means ensuring that a historical manufacture is still justified in their “manufacture” status, proving that they have lost none of their skills from before. This continuation of skills maintenance and upgrading is also what allows retailers such as A l'Emeraude to retain relevance and strength even 110 years after their creation: the maintenance of knowledge, of the trade, of the know-how.
Clearly, it is no different for watch brands. Look at Ulysse Nardin, for example: the brand began equipping its watches with tourbillons as early as 1899! It was only at the end of the 20th century, however, that Ulysse Nardin took the decision to design and manufacture tourbillon watches in-house. Its current collection is the fruit of this patiently acquired savoir-faire. The same applies to its prestigious chronometry results. Ulysse Nardin’s first certificates of chronometry date back to 1861. In 1975, when the Neuchâtel Observatory published its last official edition on the performance of chronometers, Ulysse Nardin totalled 4,324 performance certificates for mechanical marine chronometers, out of the 4,504 prizes awarded, i.e. more than 96 percent of the certificates awarded! A contemporary timepiece such as the Marine Torpilleur capitalises on the brand's vast maritime heritage and is also a certified chronometer, as Ulysse Nardin creations were in the great era of the Neuchâtel Observatory.
Marine Torpilleur © Ulysse Nardin
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