the golden age of tool watches

At Aera we're inspired by the 1950s, 1960s and the intrepid people that wore tool watches. Aera watches are not retro watches however. They are the contemporary, original designs, inspired by the rugged functionality of watches from that era.

The long arc of the story of the tool watch began in the first years of the 20th Century, with the rise of the motor car and the aeroplane. Whether as a navigational tool for pilots, a device to measure a diver’s remaining time underwater, or simply to accurately track time during a mission, the tool watch had to be easy to use, easy to read, functional, tough and reliable.

That meant high visibility displays, robust construction and reliable movements. Tool watches were created to perform a simple function, protect the user’s life.

Often the greatest advances in technology emerge from conflict, when the need and the funds to drive research meet. Arguably, the greatest contribution to the evolution of the tool watch was World War 2, when purpose-built watches were issued for a litany of highly specialised jobs.

From air force pilots and navigators, demolition divers, artillery officers all the way to the rank-and-file soldier, all could put the right watch to effective use.

It was only after the war, however, when travel, sport and exploration became increasingly accessible to ordinary people, that tool watches began to cross over into the public domain. At the same time, many of the technologies developed in war were put to use in the new fields of professional diving, international air travel, motor racing and even space exploration.

These new worlds required ever more effective tools. Then, regular men and women inspired by the exploits of these modern adventurers – and James Bond – began to see travel and adventure as a new exciting lifestyle and tool watches as an integral part of it. A dress watch, still the norm for men, telegraphed that you were well off, a gentleman. A tool watch, on the other hand, said you had stuff to do.