Watch The Cocktail
When developing the Cocktail watches, it was the designer's task to create an especially unusual display, which, however, could also be used in the daily life-routine. In 2011 we already made a splash with the disc display of the Disk.The Cocktail series surprises with its unique time display. The time is simply read off the 12 hour index. But also other GMT times can be read. So for example the index at 1 o'clock here it would be minus 1H. (e.g. London)
watch the Cocktail
Browse the watch section on Tiffany & Co.'s website or stores, and you'll find a collection of diamond-decorated women's watches known simply as the "Tiffany Cocktail." This timepiece collection was recently updated for 2015, and it got me thinking, "what is a cocktail watch, anyways?" It is a term that is used rather frequently in the luxury watch industry - especially as applied toward certain types of high-end ladies' watches. To answer this query, I thought I'd ask Tiffany & Co. the question myself.
One thing I was rather certain of is that cocktail watches are typically bold, luxurious, and very feminine. They also seem to inhabit a distinct space outside of what are known as "formal" or "evening" watches - even though both seem to frequently feature precious stones as decoration. Tiffany & Co. was nice enough to lend me some of Jon King's time, the company's Senior Vice President, to talk about the cocktail watch in general and Tiffany & Co. 's important history with the these types of jewelry watches.
It turns out that the history of the cocktail watch goes back almost as long as there have been wrist watches, and that Tiffany & Co. was an early producer of cocktail watches. There are also interesting cultural and sociological elements to the very notion of a cocktail watch, which are directly related to the role of women in society.
Historically speaking, there was a time around when wrist watches began to exist at the turn of the 20th century when it was not considered fashionable or even proper for a lady to carry around a timepiece of any kind (an irony of course is that the first wrist watch ever was likely produced for a woman). The notion at the time seemed to be that a woman should not be concerned with time and schedules, as that was within the domain of male responsibility. Of course, this type of thinking was relatively impractical, and women quickly decided that being able to know the time was of pretty substantial value. Early watches for women often displayed the time "secretly" or were disguised as jewelry items which also happened to tell the time.
Thus, early wrist watches for women were actually more akin to jewelry than instruments used to tell the time. The cocktail watch evolved out of the notion of cocktail hour wardrobe, and socializing. Cocktail attire was meant to display one's tastes, personality, social status, and also to serve as a conversation piece. This is exactly what the point of a cocktail watch was - to serve as a luxurious, albeit, "loud" item which offered its wearer the ability to boldly communicate about herself.
Cocktail watches differed from "formal" or "evening" watches in what they communicated about the wearer while being worn. Whereas a cocktail watch was meant to be a conversation piece, an evening watch was meant to be more subtle and refined, allowing the wearer to blend into a formal role. Often times, formal attire is more akin to a type of social uniform where the wearer needs to conform to a situation, whereas a cocktail watch is more about individual expression.
According to Tiffany & Co., the first cocktail watches began to surface around the time of World War I - which was also around the time when the first wrist watches were being commercially produced. At the time, cocktail watches mostly focused on diamonds and unique case and bracelet designs as a means of offering a unique expression for the wearer during social events. Unlike a formal watch, cocktail watches - even during that era - often focused on expressive designs that mimicked the value jewelry had in allowing a woman to display her taste and status. During those early watch days, many cocktail watches emphasized the unique design of a bracelet versus the watch dial or case.
Tiffany & Co. further explains that toward the end of the 1940s, after World War II, the newest trend in cocktail watches was to supplement diamonds with more colorful stones and precious materials. Tiffany & Co. was a leader in asserting that color was an important part of a modern cocktail watch, as well as their jewelry collections overall. It was during this time that the luxury watch world slowly started to break out of what some might consider a rather conservative shell - especially as watches became something more and more affordable to the masses.
Evening watches for both men and women remained conservative, whereas cocktail watches allowed their wearers to be more unique and potentially fashionable. Nevertheless, certain elements of traditional design and values continued to find favor with watch wearers. This brings us to the Tiffany & Co. Cocktail watch collection of today which is an interesting mixture of both classic design elements and modern considerations. While Tiffany & Co. has a wealth of ultra-high-luxury cocktail watches and other jewelry, their Tiffany Cocktail collection is actually meant to be a bit more mainstream - at least within the context of luxury watch prices.
I believe that with the Tiffany Cocktail collection, Tiffany & Co. sought to create an everlasting cocktail style watch suitable for a range of situations - even if those situations call for more formal or casual attire. The Tiffany Cocktail design begins with a long oval case shape which can be traced back to designs from the 1920s and the "jazz era."
Cocktail watches are decidedly about luxury, so most all the serious ones have precious metal cases and use precious stones for decoration. The Tiffany Cocktail collection uses 18k rose or white gold cases, each with a ring of diamonds around the bezel. Tiffany & Co. is quick to point out that they chose to use graduate sizing for the diamonds around the bezel to further emphasize the oval shape of the Tiffany Cocktail watch case. From a size perspective, each Tiffany Cocktail watch is 21mm wide by 34mm tall - making for a resolutely classic and feminine size.
Perhaps the most classic element of the Tiffany Cocktail watches are their dials. Here is where a sense of versatile conservatism comes in. High-contrast black or white dials feature a ring of formed Roman numeral hour indicators with traditionally designed hands inspired by hands from historic pocket watches. Note the additional oval design inside of the dial formed by the ring of shaped numerals.
Two versions of the Tiffany Cocktail watch collection feature full pave dials. This means that in addition to diamond decoration on the bezels, the dials of the watches are also decorated with diamonds. Attached to all the Tiffany Cocktail watches are integrated black satin straps. This is, in fact, a hallmark of a more formal timepiece versus a traditional cocktail watch, but here, serves to give the collection a more versatile design.
What I appreciate about the Tiffany Cocktail collection of watches is specifically that they are meant to be versatile and, for the money, offer a good value compared to a lot of the competition from brands like Cartier . According to Tiffany & Co., this was important to them because their hope is to offer a Tiffany Cocktail watch collection that builds on the heritage of historic cocktail watches while taking into consideration that modern women prefer timepieces with more versatility.
Tiffany & Co. chose to use Swiss quartz as opposed to mechanical movements because they felt more women wanted quartz movements, and because it allowed the cases to be much slimmer. The Tiffany Cocktail is actually ready to be worn on a daily basis. It seems that the historic notion of cocktail watches meant for rather specific purposes might be a thing of the past and that modern cocktail watches have a more versatile role in the lives of their owners. What they share in common with their historical precedents is that they aren't afraid to communicate something powerful about the wearer. The Tiffany Cocktail collection is elegant and refined, but clearly a more conservative and approachable interpretation of the traditional cocktail watch. Tiffany & Co. recently released its CT60 collection of timepieces as part of the brand's "timepiece" relaunch, and I am encouraged to see the direction that they are taking.
Listening to the fans, in 2017 Seiko announces a new series of Cocktail Time watches, as part of the Presage line, also available for the international market. Each watch is inspired by a particular cocktail, and visually reflects its characteristics.
On March 23 of 2017, Seiko introduces the new Cocktail Time watches to the world as part of the Presage line. The eight references presented, which are the first in the list to follow, are based on the in-house automatic calibers 4R35 (SRPB41, SRPB43, SRPB44, SRPB46) and 4R57 (SSA341, SSA343, SSA345, SSA346).
Brian: I am the last barman poet / I see America drinking the fabulous cocktails I make / Americans getting stinky on something I stir or shake / The sex on the beach / The schnapps made from peach / The velvet hammer / The Alabama slammer. / I make things with juice and froth / The pink squirrel / The three-toed sloth. / I make drinks so sweet and snazzy / The iced tea / The kamakazi / The orgasm / The death spasm / The Singapore sling / The dingaling. / America you've just been devoted to every flavor I got / But if you want to got loaded / Why don't you just order a shot? / Bar is open.