Vintage and retro watches from the 1950s are currently experiencing a renaissance that could hardly be predicted. But what shaped this time and what did the wristwatches look like back then?te watch.
The economic miracle: the zeitgeist of the 50s
The 1950s were a time of radical change in Germany. The war was over, and the focus was on reconstruction. The economy also recovered rapidly: the gross national product index rose, industrial production grew and the capital goods industry, which is important for exports, recorded decent growth. The reasons for the growth during this period, which is also known as the “economic miracle”, were amongst others the currency and economic reforms, export successes due to the international Korea boom, investments and many highly qualified and highly motivated workers.
Due to the good economic situation and growing prosperity, people also strived for luxury, happiness and satisfaction. The 50s were also a time of contrasts. While the parents reveled nostalgically in the past and taught their children the old customs and virtues, the youth rebelled. The growing economy has also led to many innovations and technical advances.
Fashion of the 1950s
These contrasts are also evident in the different fashion styles of the 1950s. They wanted to preserve traditions on the one hand, but also try out and implement modern developments and trends. The fashion was colorful and also reflected the financial status of its wearers.
The men wore elegant suits in the office, and in their leisure time and sports they could wear a more casual shirt or slipover. The rebellious youth followed the rockabilly style of James Dean and Elvis Presley.
Leading among women was the New Look, which was shaped by Christian Dior. Where previously there were either puffy dresses or tight pencil skirts, slim-fit costumes with flared skirts now dominate the street scene. In the evening, the cocktail dress enjoyed great popularity. Noble hats and color-coordinated pumps and handbags completed the look of the 1950s.
Typical wristwatches from the 1950s: small, gold-colored, minimalist
The wristwatches of the 1950s were elegant, simple, mostly gold-colored and reduced to the essentials: an easy-to-read time. The minimalist dials were arched or “domed”. The domed dials were combined with domed glass. With this trick, it was possible to install the then rather high movements in relatively flat cases. In order to further reduce the distance between the dial and the glass and thereby be able to build it even flatter, the hands were often laboriously bent by hand.
The curvature characteristic of this period gives wristwatches from the 1950s to today a unique, special character. Great design classics also emerged at this time, which are very popular with collectors today and sometimes achieve moon prices as vintage watches.
Other wristwatches from the 1950s: diving and pilot’s watches in a simple design
At the same time, in addition to the dress watches described above, other watch types became popular in the 1950s. Due to the technical progress of the passenger aircraft and the resulting transcontinental travel, the need arose to know the time in the different world time zones. Thanks to pilot watches with GMT complications, for example, globetrotters could now see at a glance what time it is on the other side of the globe. With the Breitling Navitimer, an aviator chronograph with slide rule bezel was launched in 1952, which was aimed particularly at the target group of pilots.
In the 1950s, diving began to spread and diving watches had the vital task of measuring diving time, as there were no diving computers. At the same time, wearing a diving watch was also a statement with which the wearer could show which sport he is enthusiastic about.
This shows that not only the clothing fashion, but also the watch fashion of the 50s was dominated by opposites. While the elegant dress watch was worn with the chic suit, diving and pilot’s watches came to the wrist during sport and travel.
Classic retro wristwatches from Circula in the style of the 1950s
Some of our Circula watch collections take up the unique design of the stylish, traditionally constructed wristwatches of the 1950s and use curved glass and curved hands as a deliberate style element as well as a tribute to the first Circula from 1955.
These were launched with Quartz and Automatic as well as Hand-Wound movements.