It took a good few years for the creativity of Sixties London to reach the watchmaking valleys of the Swiss Jura, but the results were quite spectacular when it finally filtered through, and today those examples are much sought-after by watch geeks.
Back then, ultra-functional, stripped-down designs gave way to multicoloured models, TV screen dials, chunky minute markers and smoky finishes.
Cases, too, became more bold and innovative, and the bullhead was born. Its inspiration was to replicate in a wristwatch the experience of handheld sports chronographs, involving moving the crown and control buttons to the top. There’s an abundance of vintage bullheads with Seiko’s early Seventies version easy enough to find, though there are some truly bizarre mid-decade items for determined hunters. Look for Breitling’s Pupitre and Bulova’s first automatic chronograph in particular.
One of the original bullheads was the Omega Seamaster Rallye Bullhead from 1969, which helped create the template: an asymmetric case with contrast finishes, a busy, colourful dial (note the chequerboard-style track) and rotating inner bezel. Omega has been keen to support interest in their back catalogue with limited-edition reissues and it was only a matter of time before that watch from 1969 made a re-appearance.
This version is an update rather than a copy. The round buttons have been replaced with flat ones, and it’s powered by the self-winding Co-axial Calibre 3113, rather than the original’s hand-wound Calibre 930. The main change is the dial has the colour turned down a little. Otherwise, all is in place from the shield-shaped, brushed and polished case, inner revolving bezel and the placement of the crown and buttons.
You’ll have to trawl the vintage sources if you crave smoky colours and eye-twisting timing scales, but Omega’s update captures the spirit nicely.