In fact, we’re in the midst of a deeply plum period for a type of timepiece that seems to enjoy a perpetual purple patch. With its swivelling game-changer the Reverso turning 85 this year, Jaeger-LeCoultre has come up with a refreshed range of the piece including, most excitingly of all, the customisable Atelier Reverso.
The latest iterations of the Boucheron Reflet, showcased at Basel 2016 – one featuring a marble face, another blue aventurine glass – also drew sharp intakes of breath on being unveiled. The Tank, meanwhile, edges towards its centenary in style, with the latest model – the Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton in pink-gold case – sitting near the summit of Cartier’s achievements to date.
Elsewhere, the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Aronde, a watch whose name, old French for “swallow”, refers to its seductive wing-like caseband flanks, contributes much to the sub-genre’s contemporary canon. Beautiful period pieces from Longines, Hamilton, Elgin, Tissot – not to mention Patek Philippe’s quirkily glorious “Top Hat” model – are still getting the discerning buyer salivating prolifically at auctions.
So why the enduring appeal? Partly it comes down to watch lovers’ innate yen for originality. “In watchmaking, it’s all about uniqueness as well as timeless elegance,” says Damian Otwinowski, Retail Director of Watches of Switzerland London flagships, “and rectangular shapes are still a rare part of new launches and core collections of brands.”