THE YEAR OF HOROLOGY

What to watch for in 2016.

By Jared Paul Stern

Will the advent of the smartwatch mean the death of the traditional mechanical watch? It’s a question many are now asking, as leading luxury brands such as TAG Heuer and Breitling embrace new technology, adding smart and connected watches to their product lines.

But classic timepieces have faced down threats from new innovative designs in the past. As with quartz and digital watches, an increasing number of consumers will likely add a smartwatch to their accoutrements this year. Though as with previous upgrades, the majority of these buyers will see them as more of an addition rather than a replacement for the classical wristwatch.

In “The Watch Book,” a new horological encyclopedia released by German luxury publisher teNeues, wristwatch expert and historian Gisbert Brunner agrees. “Chronometric luxury and long-lasting value cannot be found among these newfangled inventions,” Brunner writes.

Indeed, 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year for traditional mechanical watch enthusiasts. In addition to Brunner’s book, the market for both modern and vintage mechanical watches is growing apace, with buoyant auction prices and increased value for collector items complementing the sales of new, and in some cases, more affordable designs.

This has also paved the way for independent brands to enter the market, with some like Detroit-based Shinola, New York-based Autodromo and Antwerp-based Ressence eschewing the conventional wisdom that a watchmaker must be based in Switzerland to be taken seriously.