McDonald’s. Sony. Apple. Coca-Cola. Nike. What do these brands have in common? If you said they’re recognizable or famous, you’re close. After all, you need to see their logo to know what brand you’re looking at. The word you’re looking for, though, is ‘iconic.’
There’s something about these brands that make them stand out from others in their industry, something other companies strive for. Some might be struggling a little right now in this largely-digital world, but the fact that people still recognize them speaks volumes about their status as icons.
That said, there’s at least one iconic brand in every industry. Sometimes, it’s not just the brand that’s iconic, but a product. Herbie, for example, is an iconic Volkswagen Beetle. Mickey Mouse is an iconic character. So among iconic cars, dresses, shoes, and bags does that mean there are, say, iconic watches?
The answer: more than you might think.
A Who’s Who – or What’s What – in the World of Watches
There are many reasons a watch becomes iconic, whether it’s a fascinating history, incredible craftsmanship, or groundbreaking technology. So here’s our list of the top iconic timepieces you have to know.
The Cartier Santos
Before 1904, people carried pocket watches. This may seem quaint today, but back then, it posed a few problems. One aviator, in particular, Alberto Santos, put in a request with Cartier for a watch he could wear on his wrist because he had difficulty checking the time while also keeping the steering wheel steady.
Thanks to this dilemma and subsequent request, the Cartier Santos – what T3 dubs “the iconic watch you didn’t know existed” – was born. Today, this watch is an example of fascinating watchmaking history, while also embodying a class and elegance that watch aficionados are drawn to.
The IWC Mark 11
First introduced in 1936, IWC’s unique iconic watches have had a continuous impressive showing. The Mark 11 was explicitly made for the Royal Air Force and featured a waterproof case made of stainless steel, plus an inner iron cage protecting the timepiece from magnetic fields.
Counted among the finest military watches to date, the Mark 11 is now a collector’s item, and its successors carry on both the name and usefulness of that first special pilot’s watch.
The Rolex Submariner
Very few people don’t recognize a Rolex when they see one, and it’s safe to say that one watch, in particular, is recognizable, even if you don’t know the model name right off the bat. In an article on the Rolex Submariner, Bob’s Watches gives several reasons why this model is so iconic.
Besides its timeless, classic design, the Submariner is an excellent example of how form follows function. Recent incarnations are water-resistant up to a depth of 300 meters, and even more resistance to shocks and differences in temperature.
This versatile watch also looks just at home under a tuxedo jacket as it does pair with jeans and a sweatshirt. And as if that weren’t enough, fake Submariners make up a big chunk of counterfeit watches being sold on the market today – a dubious honour, but still proof enough of the Sub being that desirable.
These are just a few examples of watches that have stood the test of time and become icons today.
Even if your favourite brand and model isn’t on the list, don’t despair. Yours could well be iconic in its own way. And if you don’t own a watch, you could call iconic, and there’s no reason you can’t own one someday. It’s certainly worth the investment.