Trends are very fluid, changing over weeks, months, and years as tastes shift and influences come and go. The result of these changes and how trends influence each other create periods that, in retrospect, provide a glimpse into cultural patterns that come to define an era. The zeitgeist if you will. And as a species that uses a base-ten counting system, we like to use the decade as a reasonable delineation of these periods in our past.
That is why we refer to the 1950s differently to the 1960s and to the 1970s, even though they blended smoothly into each other. Upon closer inspection we can see distinctly separate events and trends that overlap in various ways, marking the transition from one decade to another.
The 1960s are commonly known as the free-love and counterculture decade, but it was also the second half of the civil rights movement and the height of the Space Race, which, when viewed on its own, was almost entirely distinct from the hippies, Woodstock, or Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech.
The fashion of the decade had influences from the conservatism of the previous decade, the counterculture movements, and inspiration from sci-fi and the budding space-age as well as smaller developments like the British invasion and the war in Vietnam.
Looking forward into the 1970s certain things carried over, but new ideas also took root. The wildly unstable political environment of the decade led from the 1960s counterculture into the disco era, where people needed a little fun to avoid nervous breakdowns. Then the 1980s came around, and disillusionment and melancholy were in stark contrast to budding prosperity and excess as attitudes diverged from a more common ground.
But what goes around will eventually come back around, at least when it comes to fashion. The 1980s, while often described as aesthetically bold, vibrant and a bit crazy, also saw people begin to long for the days of their childhood, the “idyllic” 1950s. And so older trends returned alongside the new.
The same happened in the 1990s as the ’60s gained cult popularity and in the 2000s when the ’70s made a return. Recently the 1980s have been all the rage, but we have come full circle and now find all eras to be fair game, including the 1990s again.
It’s no surprise: as the children of one era grow up and exert influence on the world around them, they often attempt to recreate the world they grew up with in a variety of ways. So when you see a trend make its way back around, you can almost be sure that somewhere someone influenced by a heavy dose of nostalgia was making some of the decisions.
The folks over at Schwarz Etienne have made it known that certain attitudes from the past fit perfectly with their brand’s ideology. And thus the new flying tourbillon Ode To The Seventies takes its cues from psychedelic art, where it is applied to very traditional crafts to create a bold new timepiece.
Schwarz Etienne Ode To The Seventies: inspiration from days past
Ode To The Seventies, introduced at Baselworld 2019, is a stunningly daring watch featuring high-fire champlevé and cloisonné enamel in a colorful psychedelic floral-esque design. The aesthetic was inspired by the peace, love, and flower-power movement that spanned two decades and multiple countries from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. The psychedelic enamel is bold, but the technique is classic through and through.
The dial is entirely enamel, using the gold cloisonné wires to create a unique pattern across the surface. Cloisonné, which sees tiny wires formed into shapes that are then filled in with various colored enamels, is the perfect conduit for realizing the design cues of the psychedelic culture of free love and peace for all.
The patterns represent the vivid shapes and colors seen by those on psychoactive drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms, but it grew far beyond that and became a style all its own. Cloisonné captures these shapes beautifully, a wholly modern experience expressed in an ancient glassmaking technique, an allegory for Schwarz Etienne and its creations overall.
The dial is divided into three rings that together sit inside another ring marking off the boundary of Caliber TSE 121.00 under the dial. Outside the movement delineation another ring continues the psychedelic floral-esque pattern out to the bezel, providing a large canvas for the elaborate enamel.
The colors are from the primary and secondary spectrum, providing a clear and contrasting palette typical of ’70’s psychedelic art. The color palette continues onto the micro rotor, which features an engraved plate with the peace symbol filled in with lacquer.
The mainspring barrel is partially visible through a couple of cutouts in the dial exposing the barrel’s teeth around two-thirds of the circumference, creating the second “ring” on the dial. The third ring is the window for the flying tourbillon, which allows an unimpeded view of the revolving escapement.
Caliber TSE 121.00 is an impressive movement to be sure, but the Ode To The Seventies keeps it generally hidden as the case back is solid save for a small window for the tourbillon.
The flying tourbillon is the mechanical star of the show, but it is still largely overshadowed by the extensive, extreme enamel dial. The movement, while normally the emphasis for Schwarz Etienne, takes a backseat to the aesthetic and artistic direction of the dial design.
This can be further seen with the strap, which is denim and features paint splashes to match the dial colors, making the entire watch seem like it is right out of 1967 San Francisco.
What’s in a name?
Wait, did I say 1967? Isn’t this watch named Ode To The Seventies?
Well, yes actually, and that is the only thing about this watch that seems a bit off, but at the same time shows just how inaccurate decade definitions can be.
The “summer of love” actually took place in 1967 after a few years of the culture surrounding free love grew from pockets around the country. Psychedelic culture and the flower power movement is considered to have reached its peak around the summers of 1967 and ’68, beginning to wane after the Woodstock music festival in August of 1969.
Of course while the psychedelic art, music, and culture would last well into the 1970s, the ’60s saw the largest and most concentrated manifestations of the culture that this watch is based on. But that is also specific to the United States, as the culture largely grew from the west coast and was transported around the world.
It isn’t inaccurate to say the 1970s were defined by this culture as well, but that depends on your perspective: I view the 1970s as the disco decade and the era of the oil crisis; your perception of the ’70s may differ (or you may have missed them completely).
Regardless, the height of psychedelic art spanned the 1960s and 1970s before disco and Star Wars shifted culture once again. And decades later the resurgence of psychedelic fashion, first in the late 1990s and 2000s, and now every few years, shows how lasting the ideas, culture, and style can be.
The Ode To The Seventies watch utilizes the style of psychedelic art in a superb way, instantly transporting that generation back to the time in which these styles were walking down main streets of cities across the world.
As Schwarz Etienne points out, this era was marked by a period of honoring creativity and ignoring convention, which the brand acknowledges is in line with its core values regarding how it creates a new timepiece.
That is something I can get behind as well, since I believe that creating anything should be fun, represent a challenge, and attempt to create something new. The Ode To The Seventies watch does this for the brand and boldly stands out while doing it. The style is definitely not meant for everyone, but it will always find the flower children at heart, the hippies and lovers that want the world to be filled with wonder and happiness.
The psychedelic enamel of this watch definitely brings a smile to my face, and I imagine many others, not to mention that the watchmaking and métiers d’art on display are first rate. The manufacture movement with in-house balance spring demonstrates the capabilities of Schwarz Etienne from the technical side just as the cloisonné enamel exemplifies the artistic skill.
The Ode To The Seventies is a mechanical winner that doesn’t skimp on attention-grabbing style. And given its limited run of just 23 pieces, it should find an eager audience. The name might be a debatable choice, but the awesomazingatude of the piece might be an easy sell!
So let’s break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.67 A wowza level that channels the summer of love!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 96.7» 948.303m/s2 There is enough lust appeal with this one to keep you rockin’ out to Hendrix for weeks!
- M.G.R. * 64.2 In-house movements are always cool, especially with in-house hairsprings. Adding a flying tourbillon, micro rotor, and keeping it all dial side takes it to another level!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A It doesn’t come as any surprise that yet another watch here is time only. Sure, it has a flying tourbillon and micro rotor, but no added indications so no need for Gotta-HAVE-That cream, even though it is definitely psychedelic.
- Ouch Outline * 9.67 Repeatedly hitting your head when crouching under a countertop! Sometimes I am just too focused on the task at hand and I forget exactly where I am in space, which can lead to a bruised skull and ego. But I would bang my head all day if it meant I got more time with this piece on the wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Groovy, man! Does it take anything more than a second of staring down this psychedelic horological party to realize the search for perfection is over?!
- Awesome Total * 931 Multiply the depth rating in meters (50) with the number of pieces in the limited edition (23), then subtract the number of components in the movement (219) to get one blast-from-the-past awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.schwarz-etienne.ch/en/collections/special-editions.
Quick Facts Schwarz Etienne Ode To The Seventies
Case: 44 x 13.7 mm, white gold
Movement: automatic Caliber TSE 121.00 with one-minute flying tourbillon and micro rotor, 3 Hz /21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 23 pieces
Price: CHF 118,000 excluding tax