In the century since we began strapping the time to our wrists, classic watch design has evolved. Watchmakers, adept at intertwining historical references with accomplished technology, keep one eye on the past when drawing up plans for the future.

Rolex did just this with the Datejust, with the first iteration appearing in 1945 to mark the brand’s 40th anniversary. At the time of its release, it could claim to be the first waterproof chronometer wristwatch with the now ubiquitous date window at 3 o’clock. This newest piece retains the most familiar design codes with its fluted bezel, juxtaposition of knitted metals and dark grey dial.

Hublot watch in titanium
Classic Fusion 40 Years Anniversary Titanium with black lacquer dial, by Hublot
Audemars Piguet watch with champagne dial

[Re]master01 in stainless steel with pink gold bezel, crown and pushpieces, by Audemars Piguet

For Hublot, understatement is key in the Classic Fusion. Released to mark the brand’s 40th anniversary, the Classic Fusion in titanium with a black lacquer dial stays faithful to the original with its then-groundbreaking amalgamation of rubber strap with a case in precious metal. The simple silhouette, inspired by a ship’s porthole, remains too, making for a chic dress watch.

The Tudor Royal also looks back to its heritage with a name the brand first used in the Fifties. In steel and yellow gold with a champagne-coloured dial, the newest iteration takes a sportier bent with a focus on comfort, with an integrated bracelet making for a smooth silhouette.

Tudor watch in steel
Tudor Royal in steel and yellow gold with champagne-colour, diamond- set dial, by Tudor

With the (Re)master01, Audemars Piguet chose to stay faithful to the design codes which inspired the piece with a champagne dial, round case and Art Deco-inspired numerals belieing the modern heart within. For Patek Philippe, simple design is also key, and the Calatrava is a quintessential example with its round case and clean ivory lacquered dial. A classic becomes disrupted for Richard Mille with the Manual Winding Tourbillon which brilliantly rethinks the familiar tonneau-shaped case in red gold and diamonds. §

Patek Philippe Calatrava watch
Calatrava 5227R-001 in rose gold with ivory lacquered dial, by Patek Philippe
Richard Mille watch

RM 17-01 Manual Winding Tourbillon in red gold with diamonds, by Richard Mille