What makes a watch into a grail? It’s all about the quest! And what triggers that quest? Sometimes, it’s nostalgia! A “holy grail” is defined more by the quest to find it than the object itself. If you could run down to Macy’s and buy the watch you have been seeking, would you love it? Maybe, but would you rhapsodize about it? Probably not.
We’re suckers for Minerva movements. It’s not that they’re perfect (as well-documented in this tear-up review over at PuristS) but that they’re wonderfully handmade in a true classic way. Minerva was a little Swiss manufacture that went on about their business for 150 years before being snatched up by Richemont and made part of Montblanc. They only made a few movements in the classic era, but what they did produce ended up in some lovely watches. This all changed with a buyout in 2000 and the creation of new CAD-assisted versions of the classics, so it’s nice to see a true hand-made Minerva still out there.
Not everyone likes the Royal Oak, but it’s hard to understate its importance. It’s one of the most influential watches of the last half-century, creating a whole new niche that now accounts for much of the industry’s sales: Luxury sports.
Not everyone is into quartz watches. That’s understandable. But anyone who appreciates history and technology would be interested in the story of the first quartz watch. At the end of the 1960’s, which itself was something of a golden era for mechanical watches, two competitors raced to bring quartz clock technology to the wrist: Seiko won and came to dominate the market with low priced models.
There are few watches as immediately recognizable as the Hamilton Ventura. Still in production today, the “Elvis Watch” was a massive success when it was introduced in 1957 and represents the decade remarkably well.
In 1960, Seiko created their enduring entry in the luxury watch market, Grand Seiko. Produced by Suwa Seikosha, the simply-named Grand Seiko offered the sort of fit and finish usually reserved for fine Swiss watches, with a simple hand-winding in-house movement to match.