Mandelbaum’s proper, however solely to an extent. Whereas saying “Rolex 1675” would possibly really feel like a particular watch, it may well nonetheless conjure up a special picture for various individuals. Positive, it’s a classic GMT-Grasp, however is it metal or gold? Gilt or matte dial? What in regards to the bezel? On a strap or bracelet? A few of these particulars have solely turn out to be essential post-hoc – it’s laborious to think about too many individuals cared about pointed or sq. crown guards till comparatively lately – however that’s additionally the purpose. The quick reference quantity is a relic of a time when producers ordered elements from their suppliers after which blended and matched elements to see what would possibly promote. For essentially the most half, it was individuals working with different individuals. All through the second half of the twentieth century, computer systems turned extra concerned with each single hyperlink within the provide chain, and with that squeezed the inefficiencies, human ingredient, and perhaps, a number of the attraction out of watchmaking.
At this time, each single hyperlink of a watch’s manufacturing is completely orchestrated and coded into computer systems, usually deliberate years prematurely – from these lab-grown diamonds within the TAG Heuer Plasma to the advert you’re served up on Instagram. And reference numbers assist make all of it occur.