Whatever the quality of Cvstos watches, the inescapable fact is the usually unfavourable comparison to Richard Mille. The similarity in design is obvious and perhaps blatant. The styling of Cvstos watches is controversial and the likeness is clear, but the question of originality and how that changes over time are worth discussing.
The Hublot Big Bang is one of the most successful wristwatches of the last 10 years, it was responsible for Hublot’s revenue jumping 10-fold in four years. Yet when it was launched there was relentless chatter about its likeness to the Offshore – the fact that Jean-Claude Biver was going after the same dollar that was being spent on the Royal Oak Offshore was indisputable.
As a result of that, or perhaps in anticipation of it, Hublot put out a press release containing an image detailing the evolution of the Big Bang from the original Hublot wristwatch created by Carlo Crocco, which was meant to state emphatically that the Big Bang was pure Hublot “DNA”. That was not very convincing but today Hublot sells so well it has become an icon in itself.
Going further back, the AP Royal Oak 'Jumbo' comes to mind. The Royal Oak was the pioneer luxury sports watch and it was a surprise success, at the time it was unimaginable that an expensive steel watch with no complications could sell. The Royal Oak was launched in 1972, the IWC Ingenieur came four years later, in that same year Patek Philippe unveiled the Nautilus and a year later Vacheron Constantin premiered its 222. All four watches were designed by the legendary Gerald Genta.
Each of the later three watches was inspired by the success of the Royal Oak which created a new market for a steel luxury watch. Today the Royal Oak, Nautilus and Ingenieur are each considered cult watches each with its own legion of fans; the 222 was quietly put down and eventually replaced with the Overseas. Those four models are the only ones that have gone on to be remembered and loved. Other brands produced Royal Oak lookalikes, including Seiko who also hired Genta, but they have long been forgotten.
The pair behind Cvstos are well aware that the market for watches with distinctively modern designs – Richard Mille, Urwerk, you name it – is here to stay. And over many years and decades, being the originator of a particular design or genre gradually becomes irrelevant, except from a historical perspective.
With the resilient backing of Franck Muller, Cvstos is like to last a long, long time. If they continue to create products of this quality – the new Challenge models are big steps in the right direction – Cvstos will eventually come into its own.
This message has been edited by SJX on 2008-12-24 06:07:39