Beauty & Fashion | Fashion

Watch feature: Iconic watches that have stood the test of time

Seven classics whose place in the pantheon of groundbreaking watches is assured

  • By Dominic Beesley
  • Published: 13:48 April 16, 2014

Casio G-Shock
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Casio G-Shock.
Image 1 of 7

Casio G-Shock
Due to its sturdy design, The G-Shock is a favourite with the military, as well as paramedics, firemen, and astronauts. They’re also used in sports and other outdoor activities, as most varieties of G-Shock are dirt and dust proof. They also have stopwatches and lights, as well as some element of water resistance. They were originally designed to follow "the three tens" – a ten-year battery life, the ability to withstand a ten-metre fall, and 10ATM (a depth of about 100m) water resistance. The first TV advert for the G-Shock showed a watch being strapped to an ice hockey puck before being hit at full force. Since then, over 60 million G-Shocks have been sold.

Rolex Submariner
First introduced in 1953, the Rolex Submariner was partly designed by diver Jacques Cousteau, who was commissioned to help test the watch underwater. He had several requirements for this watch: that it should have good visibility in deep water, be shockproof and waterproof, and be resistant to extreme temperature changes. The Submariner has also been adopted by the British Royal Navy, and has been used on expeditions at sea, where they've been able to withstand more than a thousand dives. They've also been taken into the Antarctic, surviving temperatures of minus 45°C. The Rolex Submariner was also a favourite of James Bond, who wore it in nine films.

TAG Heuer Monaco
The TAG Heuer Monaco was released in 1969 as a tribute to the Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco. It was technically the first automatic chronograph wristwatch, as well as the first square-cased chronograph. Steve McQueen wore the watch a few years later in his film Le Mans, and TAG Heuer continues to use stills from the film in its adverts. The model that McQueen wore in the film is now usually referred to as the "McQueen Monaco".

Jaeger Le-Coultre Reverso
First produced in 1931, the Reverso has hardly changed over the past 80 years. It was originally designed to protect the fragile glass of the watch face whilst playing polo, as watches could easily be damaged by stray polo balls. This led to a unique design, as the watch dial itself can be swivelled around and hidden inside a protective metal case. The back of the watch can then be engraved with a name or design of your choice. Alternatively the watch can be rotated to reveal a second watch face. Mad Men's Don Draper is among its high-profile wearers. In the real world, the explorer Amelia Earhart had one, as did the short-reigning English King, Edward VII, who had the royal crest engraved on the back of his model.

Omega Speedmaster
Several watches are sold under the name of Omega Speedmaster, but the most recognisable and longest-produced is the Speedmaster Professional, often worn by military pilots and astronauts. It is one of the few watches approved by Nasa for use in space, and the only one that’s qualified to be worn by astronauts who need to venture outside of their spacecraft. Buzz Aldrin is one of the most famous wearers of this watch, and wore his while walking on the moon, which is why it's often referred to as the "Moonwatch".

Cartier Santos
Released in 1904, the Cartier Santos was the first men's wristwatch to be produced in numbers (a one-off wristwatch had been made by another company). Before the Santos, wristwatches had only ever been popular with women, while men opted for pocket watches. The Cartier Santos is named after Alberto Santos-Dumont, a world-famous Brazilian aviator, who was friends with Louis Cartier himself. When Alberto complained that pocket watches were too impractical to wear whilst flying, this was designed for him – a flat, square-faced wristwatch. He liked it, as did his many fans around the world, so the watch became available to buy. It has hardly changed since then.

Audemars-Piguet Royal Oak
Audemars-Piguet was founded in 1881 and is the world's oldest manufacturer of 'Haute Horlogerie,' or high-class expensive watches. The Great Depression nearly destroyed the company, and though it struggled on for a few more years, it was close to folding when the Royal Oak was released in 1972 as the company's possible saviour. People thought it odd at first, being octagonal in shape and named after a 19th century ship from the British Royal Navy. It also cost more than any of the models Audemars-Piguet were selling at the time. However, affluent customers warmed to its recognisable shape and the fact that it was an instant signifier of wealth, as is the case today.

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