Look I'm not picking on Omega and Longines. The watches differ enough for people not to confuse one with the other. But, it’s a bit of a sad to see such similar styling cues from brands releasing models so close together. It’s as if they don’t bother any more. Granted you might say that what else is there to given the restrictive amount of space and the basic need to tell the time, without going all fancy and weird like Tokyo Flash?
I think there is still quite a large scope for watch designers (and *ahem* movement designers/engineers) to come up with something that is distinctive and unique. Even if an off-the-shelf movement is used, there are still numerous creative ways to design the dial, the case and the way the time is indicated (notice I didn't use the term ‘hands’). Even the most seemingly minute detail could make a world of difference. One example would be the wave pattern Omega used to have on the dial of the Seamaster range. That was distinctive. I loved that dial. Then they went and made it anonymous.
Another good example was the Panerai tapestry decoration on the movement. It was distinctive and made a generic movement look much less generic. Then it was changed to Geneva stripe, whilst still nice looking, did away with the personality.
As much as the world would like to think otherwise, and the watch industry is guilty of this as well, luxury watches aren't really fashion items. That’s what the “fashion watch” segment is for. They should be viewed more as style icons. Icons last over time. Fashion doesn't. If a watch is built to last and to be passed down through generations, then perhaps best not to design it in a way that it'll look out of date come next Spring, and something the next generation would baulk at?
Ah, but how to design something distinctive with a unique personality, at the same time classic and timeless? I'm just a blogger what do I know? No one said being a designer is easy. Or, the tried and tested method- dig into the company archives and see what can be plagiarised from the past… Just make sure it’s your own company and not someone else’s? Even if companies happen to be under the same group umbrella…