If you had told me at the beginning of 2020 that Accutron would be among the most buzzworthy brands of the year, I’d tell you that your joke about the sound of their iconic tuning fork movement was cute, but I’d have a hard time believing that a revamped Accutron would gain traction in this ultra competitive watch environment. But here we are, closing in on the end of the year, and the recently unveiled Accutron Spaceview 2020 and Accutron DNA have generated more than a little excitement and commentary from watch lovers since being announced just a few short weeks ago. These watches use a completely new electrostatic movement and are styled in the tradition of futuristic Accutrons of the past, and their technical and aesthetic attributes have been discussed and debated ad nauseum since they made their debut. One of the big questions asked at the time of the announcement was what would be in store for the Accutron brand going forward, and today we’re getting a little glimpse of that. These watches, which make up the new Legacy Collection, are at another end of the spectrum in terms of their design and mechanics, but still have deep Accutron roots, and give us an indication as to where the brand might be headed.
Accutron tells us that the genesis of this project lays with the Accutron collecting community, which some observers will note has grown significantly in recent years as a general interest in vintage has crept into the watch world, and social media has taken off, exposing more enthusiasts to an array of important and historic Accutron designs. The watches that make up the Legacy Collection are the product of meeting with Accutron collectors, who identified key references to bring back and reinterpret for the modern consumer. The collection consists of 12 watches, each limited to 600 examples each, and are powered by a Swiss made Accutron automatic movement.
There’s a lot to cover here, so we’ll get right into the watches. First up are a couple of watches that are derived from classic Accutron dress watches that were introduced in 1966, the 203 and 565. At 34mm these watches have classic gents watch proportions and an elegant shaped case with Art Deco inspiration. The 565 ($1,390) has a dynamic and unique cross-hatch pattern etched into the stainless steel case, and the 203 ($1,450) has gold tone insets that play up the asymmetry of the unique case shape.
Next up is the 521, another asymmetrical case design, with a square-ish case measuring 32.8 x 32.5mm. If you’re noticing a trend when it comes to sizing, you’re not alone – Accutron has resisted the urge, for the most part, to upsize these watches for modern tastes. These are traditional recreations through and through, and are all the better for it, in my opinion. The 521 is visually somewhat similar to the 203 and 565, and seems to take its influence from the same Deco style. The case is gold tone, which seems exactly right for a watch like this, and can be had on a lizard strap or matching gold tone mesh bracelet. The 521 will sell for $1,450 on a strap, and a hundred dollars more on the bracelet.
The 505, inspired by a watch released in 1965, has what Accutron refers to as an “Alpha” case design, with a distinctive protruding notch on the 6:00 side, and fancy lugs. Again, this watch is sized with a vintage aesthetic in mind at just 33mm. The 505 will be sold in both a gold tone case and a polished stainless steel. The dial of this reference is particularly well executed, with a cross-hatch pattern through the center, applied hour markers, and faceted hands. The 505 is priced at $1,390 in stainless steel and $1,450 in gold tone.
Rounding out the 60s portion of the collection is the Accutron 412, a relatively traditional dress watch design with a 34mm gold tone case and 4:00 crown. Like other watches in the collection, lug design here is key, and 412’s highly angular and shaped lugs give the watch a formal and refined impression. On a black alligator embossed strap, the 412 sells for $1,450.
If there’s a reference that’s a distinct outlier in the Legacy Collection, it’s probably the R.R.-0, modeled after a 1970 design that was made to spec for workers on the Canadian Railroad. This is an interesting piece of Accutron history, and the dial, as you’d expect, is built for legibility above all else, with large Arabic numerals making up an outer hours track, and smaller Arabics on a ring inside counting off hours 12 through 24. The dial is a crisp white with a contrasting red seconds hand, and a stainless steel case that measures in at 34mm. The R.R.-0 will sell for $1,290.
Next in line is the 261, known as the Accutron Day and Date “Q”. There are two variants of the 261 in the Legacy Collection. First up is a stainless steel version with a dark teal dial, and a cushion case measuring 38.5mm. That same case is also available in gold tone, with a black dial. Each of these watches have squared off applied hour markers that are right out of the early 70s, and the dials feature the iconic Accutron tuning fork logo. Accutron is also releasing an additional Day and Date Q with an oval shaped case and dark blue dial. This watch features large Roman numerals at the cardinal positions and a day indicator positioned vertically at 12:00, with a date at 6:00. These are unquestionably the sportiest watches of the bunch, and carry retail prices ranging from $1,390 to $1,550.
Another cushion case rounds out the collection, reference 21343-9W. This is another sporty entry in the collection, but has a flatter case profile than the Day and Date “Q” watches noted above. The gray dial matches the color tone of the steel case, creating a modern and sleek look, even though the style is based on a reference from 1974. The 38mm case is true to the original watch’s size, and will sell for $1,490.
Phew! That’s a lot of watches! As we catch our collective breath from poring over the entire collection, it’s worth considering the implications of this release. First and foremost, it would seem to herald the full fledged return of the Accutron brand. If there was confusion about what the newly relaunched Accutron would look like in the immediate aftermath of the electrostatic movement launch, it now appears they’re leaning heavily on their own heritage with more modestly priced limited editions. That is to say – they’re going in a traditional direction, with vintage reissues of classic models that are prized by collectors. This is the formula that many brands have found great success with over the last decade or so.
There’s a little bit more to it though with Accutron. The choices they made to keep these watches at or near the size of their vintage counterparts feels incredibly important. So many brands choose to upsize their watches, creating products that wind up being just loosely tied the originals. They are compromises, meant to please everyone, but thrilling nobody. The Legacy Collection is certainly not for everyone, but with the choice to keep dimensions small (and re-introducing many adventurous case shapes and styles) enthusiasts will likely be thrilled with many of these watches.
The Legacy Collection is available now through Accutron’s authorized dealer network (which currently consists of 22 stores in the United States). More information can be found here.