Far ahead of its time, the 1958 Patek Philippe Cobra concept watch was doomed. Destined to torment space-age vintage watch collectors like myself, this watch exists only as a one-off prototype designed by renowned avant garde watchmaker Louis Cottier eight years before his death in 1966. Unique for its linear time display and drivers side-viewing profile, time is displayed through two linear windows showing the hour and minutes printed in a spiral on rollers, thus eliminating the traditional dial and hands. Not exactly an obvious direction for the conservative Swiss watchmakers at Patek Philippe.
Luckily for us, there were a few photographs taken and plenty of inspiration given, most notably by revolutionary watchmakers, Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei of Urwerk. It seems around the same time I first wrote about the Cobra in 2006 for Coolhunting.com, they had the wherewithal to actually create a watch inspired by Cottier's futuristic vision, the Urwerk UR-CC1.
Designer, Martin Frei said, “I am interested in the perception of time. Physicists tell us that time can be warped or stretched, and our daily experiences are with the circular cycles of the days, seasons and years. But I am also intrigued that time can be ordered, even straitjacketed, to flow in a linear direction – a straight line from the past, through the present, to the future. And, because this can represent an individual’s lifeline, I feel that this linear format can be a very human way to look at time. That plus the fact that I think it looks really cool!”
Either way, the 1958 Cobra is in a museum and the Urwerk Cobra is sold out and cost about the same as a house. Maybe it's time for an affordable watch with an unusual time display? Lucky for you, that's our specialty here at Watches.com!