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Happy Anniversary - 2022, Anniversary Year!

Happy Anniversary 2022, Anniversary Year!

They made their mark on the twentieth century, whether for their design, innovative features or memorable origins. Happy Anniversary to five iconic watches, all celebrating a special jubilee in 2022

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak turns 50. The Breitling Navitimer is 70. The Calatrava by Patek Philippe has been an icon of elegance since 1932. TAG Heuer’s Autavia has clocked up 60 years while the Omega Speedmaster has been enchanting fans of mechanical watches for 65 years. WorldTempus looks at some of the year’s milestone anniversaries and the watches celebrating them.

50 years for the Audemars Piguet Royal

Oak No-one saw it coming: in 1972 the Royal Oak became the first luxury sports watch when Audemars Piguet clad Gérald Genta’s sophisticated design in robust steel. Distinguished by angular lines, an octagonal bezel, hexagonal gold screws, a “tapisserie” dial, a metal bracelet integrated into the case and a large diameter, it was as far removed as possible from the classic tropes that were then in vogue. After an initially cool reception, the Royal Oak – a name that evokes strength and longevity – went on to enjoy phenomenal success, subtly evolving through successive generations without ever departing from the bold character of the original.

2022, année anniversaire !

Royal Oak Selfwinding 38mm © Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet is pulling out all the stops for the fiftieth anniversary of this granddaddy of sport-luxe watches with a plethora of new models, including time-and-date plus automatic chronographs in a choice of three diameters (37, 38 and 41mm), and a wide variety of materials and dial colours. Each of the new references harks back to the 1972 Royal Oak while introducing subtle adaptations to the case, dial and bracelet. “These are small changes, intended not to revolutionise the collection but instead bring out its features,” says Sofia Candeias, head of the Product and Design division. All the anniversary models offer enhanced readability and greater comfort on the wrist. They are powered by three movements including an entirely new calibre for the 37mm automatic models. With the exception of the 38mm chronographs, all feature a gold oscillating weight that has been specially developed for this fiftieth anniversary.

2022, année anniversaire !

Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph 38 mm © Audemars Piguet

70 years for the Breitling Navitimer

Ask any veteran pilot to name a watch that has left its mark on aviation history and chances are the answer will be, the Navitimer. A veritable navigating instrument, introduced in 1952, the original Reference 806 could be used to perform some two dozen calculations and conversions using just the built-in slide rule: multiplication, division, conversions of miles/km, Fahrenheit/Centigrade or currency, tachymeter, telemeter, pulsometer, metronome, solar compass, the list is long. Simple to use and easy to read even in low light conditions, the Navitimer conquered more than the skies, when in 1962 it became the first wrist chronograph to travel into space, worn by astronaut Scott Carpenter on Mercury Seven.

2022, année anniversaire !

Navitimer Cosmonaute, 1962 © Breitling

Breitling is celebrating the Navitimer’s 70th anniversary this year with a series of launches. The first drop will be at end March. In the meantime, flying enthusiasts and fans of top-notch chronos can get their kicks from the iconic Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43, one of the brand’s absolute bestsellers.

2022, année anniversaire !

Navitimer B01 Chronographe 43 © Breitling

65 years for the Omega Speedmaster

A watch enthusiast’s eyes will light up at the mere mention of the first timepiece worn on the moon (by Buzz Aldrin in 1969), yet despite this claim to fame, the Speedmaster was launched in 1957 not with lunar ambitions but as a chronograph for racing drivers. This Reference CK 2915 was remarkable for the tachymeter scale on its bezel, the “Broad Arrow” hour hand, and of course the manual-winding Calibre 321 movement.

This same movement takes pride of place in this year’s reissue, to mark the watch’s 65th anniversary, of the very first Speedmaster. And because this is a special Speedy, the 38.6mm case is sculpted from Canopus Gold, Omega’s proprietary white gold alloy whose brilliance and whiteness contrasts with the black onyx dial and with the black Grand Feu enamel for the tachymeter scale.

2022, année anniversaire !

Speedmaster Calibre 321, 2022 © Omega

90 years for the Patek Philippe Calatrava

Created in 1932, the Calatrava encapsulates the Bauhaus principle that the form of an object is dictated by its function. Its perfect circle and exceptionally legible dial have made it a classic among classics – and yet the original Reference 96, released the same year the Stern family joined Patek Philippe’s board of directors, was something of a gamechanger at a time when the fashion was for Art Deco-inspired form watches.

2022, année anniversaire !

Calatrava 96 © Patek Philippe

Subtle changes have ensured that successive generations of Calatrava have continued to reflect contemporary tastes, underpinned by that same sober elegance. The latest execution to date appeared in the spring of 2021. The Calatrava “Clous de Paris” Ref. 6119 is distinguished by the “Clous de Paris” or hobnail guilloché pattern on the bezel. The slightly larger (in line with modern preferences) 39mm case houses a new manual-winding movement. No doubt Patek Philippe has some surprises in store for the 90th anniversary of its most famous historic collection.

2022, année anniversaire !

Calatrava « Clous de Paris » © Patek Philippe

60 years for the TAG Heuer Autavia

“Looking back I can say that the Autavia wrist chronograph was the first real wristwatch product I personally created for the company,” writes Jack Heuer in his autobiography, The Times of my Life. Launched in 1962 and a favourite with racing drivers, admired for its performance and easy readability, this chronograph with rotating bezel remains firmly on-track after six decades, despite a prolonged break in production between 1985 and 2019. 

2022, année anniversaire !

Autavia Original 1964 © TAG Heuer

Since then, the Autavia has returned to the fore and this year celebrates 60 years young with three anniversary models. Travellers will opt for the GMT version, equipped with Calibre 7 COSC GMT. Anyone nostalgic for the glory days may prefer one of the two new chronographs, both of which run off Calibre Heuer 02 COSC Flyback. One has a silver and black panda dial, a nod to a 1960s model of which only limited numbers were made. The other features a black dial in reference to a 1962 model that was issued to the German air force. All three references offer the versatility of an interchangeable bracelet.

2022, année anniversaire !

Automatic Chronometer Flyback © TAG Heuer

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