Sexy ‘70s: Seven Funky Birds From My Collection – Playlist Included
In terms of design aesthetics, some periods are far more impactful and influential than others. And with the introduction of new materials, shapes, and technologies, the 1970’s were free and innovative. My fascination for this period also affects a part of my watch collection and, naturally, my taste in music. Let’s try to understand why.
My interest in the ‘70s is primarily related to architecture, furniture, and design. I must confess, I admire the radical design of objects released during a decade where it seems some products were merely prototypes accidentally released on the market!
It was a time when furniture designers were following the trends of the period by investing their time in truly innovative projects, but not without risk. The Panton Chair is a perfect example of that spirit. Introduced in 1967, first in fiberglass, then in polyurethane from 1968 onward, almost all of the early-production chairs broke at the junction between the seat and the foot. But in a time of change, alternatives were welcomed. This model is an early survivor created by Herman Miller.
Watches and Vibes: A ‘70s mix
Let’s try to relax for a while and stay away from any modern novelties, world premieres, or limited editions. Let me take you on a journey of 7 watches that define the period I just referred to as the 1970s, but which actually starts in the mid-1960s. All styles of music were in flux, so I will do my best to link each watch to a particular song from my current playlist. This playlist is also available on our new Watchonista Spotify account!
The Radical Girard-Perregaux Casquette
Available from 1976 to 1978, there are few remaining examples of the legendary Casquette produced by Girard-Perregaux. This watch is a pure UFO with a sleek aerodynamic shape and an LED display.
The design was proposed to the brand by a local case supplier in La Chaux-de-Fonds at a time when the market was pretty bad, and everyone was searching to try out new things. Only 2,000 pieces of this particular edition, made with grey Makrolon® (a strong but light glass-like polymer), were produced. This example is a little bit worn and dirty, but it is still on its original strap.
Song: Rocket Man – Elton John (1972)
The Psychedelic Amida Digitrend
In the same intergalactic universe as the GP Casquette, there is the cult piece known as the Amida Digitrend. It features discs with two number indicators on the side view of the watch, hours are on the left and minutes on the right. The two number discs face upwards (kind of like hands) and reflect horizontally through the cyclops window via a prism. It was quite innovative for the time, but it is definitely harder to read at night.
Song: White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane (1967)
The Conceptual Omega Dynamic
Launched in 1968, the Omega Dynamic was an ergonomic achievement. After careful study of the shape of wrists, Omega totally revised its approach to watch construction. To fit the human wrist more comfortably, the designers a lugless case shaped like an ellipse with a solid case back and round movement that is only accessible through the dial side. Other to watch construction include: embedding the crown into the body of the case and a removable ring on the case back, which allows for quick and easy strap swapping.
Song: Life on Mars? – David Bowie (1971)
The Professional Omega Flightmaster
A genuine tool watch, the Omega Flightmaster was conceived specifically for pilots and included a GMT, chronograph, 24-hour indicator, and an internal rotating bezel graduated to 60 min. Like the Dynamic, the iconic Flightmaster case has no lugs, and the metallic bracelet is affixed to the case back.
Song: Run Fay Run – Isaac Hayes (1974)
The Absolute Omega Speedmaster TV Dial
What happened when the iconic Speedmaster crashed into the ‘70s after being a trip to the Moon? The often unknown and underappreciated ref. 176.0014, also known as the Speedmaster TV Dial. And for me, it is also one of the most decisive expressions of the era's trends in watch fashion.
Like the Dynamic, the shape is the result of research into the ideal ergonomic shape for a watch. The TV screen dial, with the tachymeter affixed under the glass, is an incredible design thanks to the Lemania-based movement. The Caliber 1045 displays the 60-minute chronograph with a central hand, allowing for the space of a day and date window at 3 o’clock.
Finally, I have no adequate words to properly express how perfectly the dark blue sunburst dial completes this watch.
Song: Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater (1969)
The Disco Aventurine Dial Omega Constellation Megaquartz
A close cousin of the Marine Chronometer, the Omega Constellation f 2.4 MHz was witness to a time when a quartz movement was practically required. After all, it was the pinnacle of accuracy. This particular specimen was released with a stellar aventurine dial that made you shine like a disco ball every time your wrist moved!
Song: Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees (1977)
The Futureproof Omega Seamaster F300hz Electronic
This piece is the ideal synthesis of how the ‘70s mood affects a daily qualitative watch. At first glance, it is not attesting to the original design form of the Seamasters from 1947, but when you look closer, you understand that piece proposes a perfect sports watch according to the stylistic standard of the period. With a groovy monobloc case once again attached to a stunning integrated strap and the dial retaining it traditional round shape, it’s a far less radical alternative for the more conservative wearer.
Song: Video Killed The Radio Star – The Buggles (1979)
In the 1970s, the '60s need for a cultural attitude adjustment was born into unusual design deviations in search of an alternative to the “The Man." Some of those designs were definitely more successful than others, but on the whole, they were sincere attempts to change with the times.
Regardless of the success of a design, Hunter S. Thompson best summed up my feelings for the sexy watches of the 1970s. In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, he wrote:
"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”
Listen to Watchonista's Playlist On Spotify
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)