King Of Crowns: Can You Guess Which Iconic Watches These Crowns Belong To?
Thought our watch hands game was too easy? Well, we’ve upped the challenge. Do you have what it takes to identify these iconic crowns?
As necessary as watch hands are, the crown, usually placed on the right-hand side of the case, allows the wearer to set and adjust the time of their timepiece or even rewind it. It's a useful tool. Engineered in 1842 by none other than the co-founder of Patek Philippe, Monsieur Jean Adrien Philippe, watch crowns allow the wearer to wind their watch without a troublesome key.
Why is it called a crown, you may ask? In 1842, wristwatches were not a "thing" yet, and the only portable watches were pocket watches. The pocket watch had its winding and setting system, usually at 12 o'clock, with a little hook, allowing the holder to keep it secure with a chain. When looked at it closely, the winding object's shape looked very much like a crown at the top of the watch. Therefore, it was only fitting to name it "the crown."
Now that you know a little bit more about the only part of the movement we can touch: Let's see if you can recognize these famous crowns. Ready, set…GUESS!
Crown Silhouette #1 – Underwater Tool
The brand that uses this iconic crown was established in 1905, in London and now based in Geneva. The brand was also the first to introduce a "screw-down" crown to the market, enabling its timepieces to be used underwater. As you can see, the design is simple yet functional. But can you guess which watch this crown comes from?
The Rolex Submariner!
With all the coverage of the past few weeks, you might have quickly recognized that this crown belongs to the Rolex Submariner. The Rolex Submariner has a very iconic and recognizable crown due mainly to it’s the Rolex coronet crown logo and the three dots signifying its "Triplock crown" status.
Crown Silhouette #2 – Wartime Elegance
Think of the most recognizable design ever was inspired by a wartime vehicle. This timepiece has been worn by glamourous heads of state and is still very much an icon today. Its crown is as recognizable as the watch since it’s the watch’s only decoration. So, did you guess it?
The Cartier Tank!
The Cartier Tank is an iconic and instantly recognizable watch thanks to its blue cabochon sapphire crown. Louis Cartier, being a jeweler before being a watchmaker, was mesmerized by military tanks. And with everything being more and more mechanized, he was inspired to create the Cartier Tank with its sharp, square lines while keeping the signature Cartier design codes, such as the railway minute track on the dial and the blued hands. To make this watch run, he enlisted the help of Edmond Jaeger just before Edmond started his venture of Jaeger-LeCoultre. It's a small world!
Crown Silhouette #3 – Not the First
When this sports watch came out, it wasn't the first of its kind. But the designer was inspired to draw this timepiece while observing employees of the Geneva-based brand as they ate during the Basel watch fair. And in the five minutes it took to complete the sketch, the brand’s fate transformed. The watch quickly became the ideal timepiece for the dynamic business managers of the new generation. Have I said too much?
The Patek Philippe Nautilus!
Yes, I was vague on the description above, but you would have guessed it right away if I had said Gérald Genta was the visionary designer. The Nautilus was introduced to the world in 1976 and was Patek Philippe’s answer to the concurrent Audemars Piguet Royal Oak; both watches were the brands’ answer to the quartz crisis and helped to draw people back to mechanical luxury watches. We now know it worked wonders.
Crown Silhouette #4 – From the Flight Deck
It might be my favorite crown, as it is full of history, and the brand stayed true to itself when they redesigned it for today's world. This timepiece's ancestor was created exclusively for war purposes, more precisely, for wartime pilots in 1940. With an extra-wide diameter of 55mm, it helped pilots to coordinate attacks. The conical crown was purposefully designed to be large to allow pilots to set the time while wearing gloves. The watch and crown design have since become the inspiration for most of the pilot's watches on the market.
The IWC Big Pilot!
Relaunched in 2002, the IWC Big Pilot kept the design traits of its ancestor but in a smaller format (46.6mm). Since 2002, the watch's design and diameter remain unchanged, but the brand often introduces new materials and improved movements. In the last couple of years, IWC also launched smaller versions of the Pilot but stuck with its crown's iconic conical design.
Crown Silhouette #5 – The Diver's Helmet
Inspired by the traditional brass diver's helmet, this watch is more than an icon today. It inspired countless brands to create their versions of the "Luxury Steel Sportswatch." The brand collaborated with another icon from Le Sentier to power this timepiece with an ultra-thin automatic movement and highly innovative and reliable movement. The watch was not an immediate success, but it wasn't long before the attractive design and its quality, was acknowledged by collectors. The crown of this particular example is the only crown to replicate the shape of the case of the watch. And I fear, I now have said too much!
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak!
In 1972, no one would have thought that, with the initial lack of interest about the timepiece, this watch would become a must-have for today's collectors (if you can find one). This timepiece, much like the Nautilus, was another Swiss answer to the quartz crisis. Yet, it is a beautiful example of partnership between brands. As Audemars Piguet collaborated with Jaeger-LeCoultre to create the movement of this icon, showing that when times are hard, we are stronger together.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our latest horological quiz!
(Photography & Visual creations by Liam O'Donnell)