The Year in Horology: What to watch for in 2016

Story highlights

  • Some experts say smartwatches are no threat to traditional timepieces
  • Expect vintage watch market to grow in 2016
  • New, independent brands will debut this year, with more affordable designs
  • Gallery above features 2016 trends and upcoming watch events

(CNN)Will the advent of the smartwatch mean the death of the traditional mechanical watch? It's a question many are now asking, as leading luxury brands such as TAG Heuer and Breitling embrace new technology, adding smart and connected watches to their product lines.

But classic timepieces have faced down threats from new innovative designs in the past. As with quartz and digital watches, an increasing number of consumers will likely add a smartwatch to their accoutrements this year. Though as with previous upgrades, the majority of these buyers will see them as more of an addition rather than a replacement for the classical wristwatch.
In "The Watch Book," a new horological encyclopedia released by German luxury publisher teNeues, wristwatch expert and historian Gisbert Brunner agrees. "Chronometric luxury and long-lasting value cannot be found among these newfangled inventions," Brunner writes.
Indeed, 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year for traditional mechanical watch enthusiasts. In addition to Brunner's book, the market for both modern and vintage mechanical watches is growing apace, with buoyant auction prices and increased value for collector items complementing the sales of new, and in some cases, more affordable designs.
This has also paved the way for independent brands to enter the market, with some like Detroit-based Shinola, New York-based Autodromo and Antwerp-based Ressence eschewing the conventional wisdom that a watchmaker must be based in Switzerland to be taken seriously.
Several newcomers will also be exhibiting for the first time at SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie), the first major international watch event of the year, held January 18-22 in Geneva.
On the auction front, Antiquorum and Bonhams will lead 2016 with February sales of important modern and vintage timepieces in Hong Kong and London respectively. Sotheby's follows suit on March 8 in London.
Scroll through the gallery above to see top watches and trends to expect in 2016.