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Ever since the first wristwatch was created about 500 years ago, improvements and changes in design followed like a never-ending stream. There are numerous watches that demonstrated unique qualities that translated into lasting impact. Today, we will be investigating five interesting and groundbreaking watches that hold a prominent place in history. 

Cartier Tank 

Cartier tank watch

The Cartier Tank holds an infamous standing in the watchmaking industry. It was designed by Louis Cartier, the grandson of the founder. He created the rectangular face to mirror the tanks in World War I from above. From its dawn, it was an extremely desirable yet rare piece. In 1919, its first year of full production, Cartier only manufactured a total of 6. Thus, the original Cartier Tanks are one of the most sought after collection pieces. However, it is easy now to find watches (both by Cartier and not) that mimic this elegant design. 

The Rolex Submariner

Rolex submariner

Alongside the Cartier Tank, the Rolex Submariner is unarguably one of the most influential watches created. When it was released in 1954, the submariner was not intended to be a luxury product, but rather a professional diver’s watch. Yet, since its debut decades ago, the Rolex Submariner created ripples in the industry. Due to its perfect balance of simplicity and elegance, style and utility, popularity and timelessness, it is one of the most widely loved watches of all time.  As you may already know, Rolex is now the most desirable and well-known luxury watch brand in the world, which may be largely credited to the wild popularity of the Submariner. Piggy-backing off of this success, it is easy to spot numerous other brands also mimic the design of the Submariner. 

The Swatch

Swatch watches

Swatch took the world by a storm with its unique design and affordable price. During the early 1980s, the Swiss watch industry was facing major challenges as cheaper Japanese digital watches fell into the favor of the mass public. Swatch was created as a direct response to this rising issue. By creating the simple, plastic design, Swatch was able to quickly and affordably create a large number to sell at a competitive price; Combined with the craze of collection, Swatches quickly became the equivalent of Beanie Babies. Although not quite as popular now, Swatch still holds its place in the industry to this day. 

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch

Similar to the Swatch, Audemars Piguet also faced major challenges in the market as the first Quartz was released in 1969 and was replacing the swiss watch industry. Yet, Audemars Piguet went a radically different route than Swatch. They decided that it was time to face the market with a piece never seen before. Designed by Gerald Genta, one of the world’s most influential watch designers, the Royal Oak was the first-ever steel watch. The rustic and durable sports design was not only polarizing in looks but also outlandish in price. The Royal Oak even outpriced many gold ones at the time of its release in 1972. Nevertheless, the revolutionary design sparked the interest of many, and single-handedly saved Audemars Piguet. 

Breitling Navitimer

Breitling Navitimer watch

The Breitling Navitimer is commonly regarded as the most famous Pilot’s Watch for a reason. Although not the first slide rule watch, the Navitimer is definitely the most popular. The sleek and stylish design is also well-known for encompassing the utility of a pilot watch. The slide rule, an integral part of a Breitling watch, contained all that is needed to calculate various metrics such as airspeed, distance, rate/time of climb/descent, flight time, kilometer-nautical mile, and gallon-liter fuel conversion functions. Although not used so frequently anymore, many pilots are still trained to use pilot watches as a backup if all else fails. 

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