It was the once-unknown Chicago bookkeeper turned world-renowned typeface designer Frederic W. Goudy who sagely observed that 'all the old fellows stole our best ideas'.
Goudy made the remark some time during the early 1900s in relation to how difficult it was to come up with truly new letter fonts – but it could equally be applied to the watch industry, many protagonists of which seem to have admitted defeat when it comes to creating something fresh.
After all, it's far easier, quicker and more profitable to look back at what the 'old fellows' did, tweak it a bit to suit modern times and manufacturing methods and then go all-out on marketing the heritage.
Military watches, driving watches, diving watches, pilot watches, digital watches, chronographs, alarm watches, GMT watches. The list of 'revived 45s' goes on and on, and buyers seem to lap them up.
But 2020's most notable horological blast from the past has proved to be the integrated bracelet watch, numerous new examples of which have arrived simultaneously in another of those remarkable coincidences often seen in this industry, whereby everyone appears to have been thinking the same thing at exactly the same time (assuming the oft-repeated claim that it takes at least five years to develop a new model is true. Which it can't be).
But by that reckoning (and putting conspiracy theories aside) it must have been back in 2015 that Hublot, Bell & Ross, Chopard, Laurent Ferrier, H. Moser and Co, A. Lange & Söhne and a few others received word from on high that watch buyers, whether they realised it or not, simply had to have integrated bracelets.
Cynical types (such as me, for example) might see the sudden enthusiasm for 'integration' as a response to falling sales on the basis that an all-new watch has the potential to generate a 'must have' feeling and a bracelet watch seems to justify a significantly higher price tag than a strap watch, thus boosting profits.