Retrograde watches The future of retrograde
Retrograde indications jump backwards instead of going 360 degrees. The metaphor is striking because they're going round in circles.
At the time, it was all about the show. During the 00s, a dozen brands had decided to resurrecct certain horological functions and to exploit them in a new, spectacular manner. Among those were retrograde indications. They were used in droves, concatenated, stuffed inside movements and on dials of all kinds. The result was far from being to eveyone's liking, but at least it had seriously pushed the envelope. What's left of this heritage ? What watches of today still use them ? And what about tomorrow ?
Portugieser Tourbillon Retrograde Chronograph © IWC
Saying that they've become few and far between is an nuderstatement. Among the 2020 novelties, no more than a dozen watches include retrograde functions. And in many cases, they feature just the one indication. What's worse, they sometimes seem to only aim at saving space. But this is not a complication born to make room for something else. Retrograde stands for pizzazz, it's a show, a jump backwards that makes brands leap forward.
Tradition 7597, Arena Bi-Retro Sport © Breguet, Gérald Genta
And yet, many of today's watches that use it are looking in the rearview mirror. They're using existing movements to update classic timepieces. Such is the case of Maurice Lacroix and their Masterpiece collection. Or they're used by resurrected brands who used to feature these fuctions to craft their identity, like Gérald Genta. Fortunately, a few ceaselessly creative ones have never stopped using them, as demonstrated by Urwerk's latest, the UR-220 Falcon Project.
UR-220 Falcon Project, Masterpiece Moonphase Retrograde © Urwerk, Maurice Lacroix
This doesn't bode well for retrograde indications, condemned as they seem to always start again like Sisyphus rolling his stone uphill. Unless... if only a new generation of watchmakers decided to reignite the flame of creative horology. The new Cyrus Klepcys GMT Retrograde feels like a first step in the right direction. Actually, it's making me jump for joy.
Klepcys GMT Retrograde © Cyrus
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