Creating an iconic product requires many things: a willingness to be innovative, cunning, commitment, a tolerance for failure and at least a little bit of luck. It goes without saying that it is even more difficult for a brand to do justice to that icon when releasing a new version forty years later, but Audemars Piguet (one of the few remaining family owned independent high-end watchmakers in the world) can feel secure in knowing that it has done both with the Royal Oak. In 1972, at the hands of respected designer Gérald Genta, Audemars created a luxury sports watch and named it for the “British Royal Navy battleships, themselves christened for the tree where King Charles II hid from his enemies,” a watch that has since gone on to become an icon. The revolutionary design of the octagonal bezel, which resembles the porthole of ship, has helped the Royal Oak easily become Audemars Piguet’s most famous timepiece.
Today the good people of the International Watch Company unveiled their new range of pilots watches at the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) watch trade fair in Geneva, Switzerland. As it so happens, I’m in attendance at the show and got a chance to check these guys out first hand. The Schaffhausen-based watchmaker released the Top Gun Miramar Chronograph Automatic (named for the location of the Top Gun USMC training base) in advance of the show, but today the company unveiled the full Pilot’s Watch collection — much to my enjoyment.