CHRONOGRAPHS Arguably one of the most desirable complications among men’s watches (and women’s too) even though most of us rarely engage in activities that require us to measure lap times accurate to the second
Hublot Ferrari Magic Gold 45 The first watch to be born of the comprehensive partnership with Ferrari announced in November last year, it takes forward Hublot’s Big Bang series in stunning detail. The case is scratch-resistant 18-carat ‘Magic Gold’. The movement (internal mechanism), with a 72-hour power reserve, is revealed through a sapphire dial. The overall design is very Hublot while retaining touches of Ferrari (strap stitching, prancing horse relief, touches of red). Price: $30,000 For more details, visit:hublot.com/en/#/COLLECTION/BYCOLLECTION/1000003/ZOOM/2115
Patek Philippe 5204P-001 Chronograph Under the elegant dial lies a completely new proprietary and hand-wound movement that marries a split-second chronograph, perpetual calendar and moonphase indicator with a 65-hour power reserve. A flawless diamond sits between the lugs at 6 o’clock, visible only to the wearer. How very Patek! Price: $300,000 For more details, visit: patek.com/contents/default/en/5204P_001.html
Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime A complex yet beautiful evolution of Breitling’s signature design, this watch features a new in-house movement and two rotating discs that allow you to see the time in 24 cities around the world (which feature Karachi and Dhaka, but sadly no Indian city) simply by turning the crown. Oh yeah, there’s a chronograph too. Price: $11,000 For more details, visit:breitling.com/en/models/transocean/transocean-chronograph-unitime/presentation/index.php AVANT-GARDE In spite of numerous innovations in the way mechanical watches keep and display time, there is a certain conformity to them. “We value our heritage and history,” the older watchmakers will say. Nonetheless we come across a few instances of avant-garde thinking every year, usually from their younger (though equally talented) peers.
Christophe Claret XTREM-1 Christophe Claret has a solid reputation among connoisseurs as a maker of elaborate, original and beautiful watches. The XTREM-1 is a great example of why. A flying tourbillon at a 30 degree angle is mounted where the mainplate meets the strap and next to that on either side two metallic spheres float in clear cylinders, showing the hours and minutes. How do they do that? Through magnetic fields generated by miniature magnets moved by cables. Whew! And wow! Price: $280,000 For more details, visit:christopheclaret.com/en/collection-x-trem-1-c7.php
MB&F HM4 Thunderbolt When MB&F refers to its watches as “horological machines”, they aren’t kidding. Inspired after vintage airplanes, the HM4 features two ‘pods’ that tell the time and indicate the power reserve, while a cutaway sapphire in between them shows the aircraft’s, um watch’s, ‘engine’. As avant-garde as they come, including the ‘three-dimensional’ in-house movement. Price: $160,000 For more details, visit:mbandf.com/machines/horological-machines/hm4-thunderbolt/index.php
Hyt H1 Possibly the most talked about watch from an independent brand at Baselworld this year was the H1, the first watch by Hyt. The H1 indicates time by pumping a mix of coloured and clear liquids around the dial in a clear tube, using mechanically powered pistons and bellows. Price: $45,000 For more details, visit: hytwatches.com
Alternative ENERGY Less than 20 percent of Swiss watches carry mechanical movement. And Swiss watches account for just 2 percent of the global watch production, where most of the watches are powered by electronic movements, mostly quartz.
Seiko Astron The Astron can magically tell the correct time and date in all 39 time zones around the world. How? Because it connects every day to four or more GPS satellites to figure out where on earth you are, before automatically setting both the time and date. A special quartz movement keeps it ticking, fed through sunlight that falls on the dial. Price: $2,300-$3,850 For more details, visit: seikowatches.com/baselworld/2012/products/seikoastron/index.html
Citizen Eco Drive Nova This is another example of how the Japanese are innovating watchmaking in very different, yet appealing ways. In the Nova, powered by Citizen’s light-driven Eco-Drive technology, the dial is one smooth surface with no hands or apertures. Instead, it conjures up mesmerising moving displays of light and colours before ‘settling’ to show the time. Price: $5000 For more details, visit: citizenwatch-global.com/baselworld_2012/nova.html
Frederique Constant Double Heart Beat Black Beauty This watch features the trademark ‘heartbeat’ aperture that reveals the coiling and uncoiling of the hairspring as it controls the balance wheel combined with a black mother-of-pearl dial set with diamonds. Price: $2,500; For more details, visit: frederique-constant.com
De Bethune DB25S Jewellery A blue mirror-polished titanium dial is the ‘sky’ within which lie white gold and diamond stars and at 12 o’clock, a three-dimensional moonphase made of 44 diamonds and 44 blue sapphires that spins on its own axis. The movement is an in-house automatic. A conversation starter if there ever was one! Price: Over $100,000 For more details, visit: debethune.com
WOMEN’S WATCHES Gone are the days when women’s watches meant just changing the type of diamonds, straps or dial decoration from model to model. Modern women want to combine substance with style on their wrists, powering an increased thrust towards mechanisms and complications.
Corum Admiral’s Cup Legend 38 Mystery Moon While retaining the core 12-sided design of its Admiral’s Cup line, Corum brought in a beautifully worked mother-of-pearl dial atop an in-house movement that constantly rotates on its own axis, carrying with it the moonphase and date displays. Though a tad too big for Indian women’s wrists or tastes, this is a gorgeous piece. Price: $30,000 For more details, visit: basel.corum.ch/model/admirals-cup-legend-38-mystery-moon
CLASSIC Every person who is into mechanical watches owns at least one classic piece. A watch that will not fade away with changing fashion trends or require five minutes of serious eye-squinting to tell the time or bursting forth with complications. A watch that will be at ease on your wrist any time of the day, any place you go.
Chopard Classic Manufactum Inspired by the pocket watches made by its founder in the 1800s, Chopard has created an elegant and simple watch featuring just black roman numerals on a porcelain-white dial, a seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and a date display at 3 o’clock. Powered by a new in-house movement, the watch is a statement in understated style. Price: $15,000 For more details, visit: chopard.com
Blancpain ‘Skeleton watches’—whose mechanisms are exposed to the wearer by removing many of the ‘obstructions’ like dials, bridges and plates as possible—have been around for centuries. But Blancpain’s tribute to the craft, featuring stunningly beautiful hand engraving that can be seen through sapphire crystals in the front and back together with an in-house movement, is on another plane altogether. Price: Over $150,000 For more details, visit: blancpain.com/en/news/villeret-squelette-8-jours
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Off-Centered Ivory Enamel Two entwining dials forming the number eight has been Jaquet Droz’s signature design element for a while. In this case the dials have been put off-centre, creating a beautiful asymmetrical design backed by classical ‘Grand Feu’ enamelling that mixes precise artistry with extremely high temperatures to achieve very fine detail. Price: $22,000 For more details, visit:jaquet-droz.com/
Rolex Sky-Dweller Rolex’s first dual-time features a new patented mechanism that tells the second time via an off-centre rotating disc and a calendar that utilises the 12-hour markers as indicators for the 12 months too (using apertures to highlight a particular one). The calibre too is entirely new. Price: $45,000 For more details, visit: rolex.com/en#/rolex-watches/basel2012/the-new-sky-dweller/the-new-sky-dweller
Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 17 Issued on the 80th birthday of Jack Heuer, the designer of the iconic Carrera series and Heuer CEO till its sale to TAG in 1985, the watch pays homage to its origins—a silver dial and uncomplicated silver hands and hour markers, just the ‘Heuer’ logo and chronograph counters at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. It’s also a limited edition series. Price: $4,500 For more details, visit:baselworld.tagheuer.com/en/carrera-watch-for-men#step-p9-cqd-intro
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT Omega has equipped the latest model in its Seamaster range with its proprietary co-axial movement featuring a GMT movement using an additional hand, thus allowing two time zones to be tracked. The GMT hand also doubles up as the compass when the watch is held parallel to the ground. Price: $40,000 For more details, visit: omegawatches.com/spirit/baselworld/new-products/seamaster-aqua-terra-gmt
MATERIALS Though Swiss watches have been incorporating precious materials—both natural and manmade—for centuries, there are always newer boundaries to be crossed. But it’s usually the younger brands that are more eager to experiment with newer materials around functionality as well as aesthetics.
De Grisogono INSTRUMENTO N°UNO DF XL N01 A tribute to founder Fawaz Gruosi’s iconoclastic yet tasteful approach towards watchmaking, this one features a dial made of polished Macassar ebony wood containing two time zones and an off-centre date display between 7 o’clock and 8 o’clock. The richness of the wood is complemented well through the elaborate use of pink gold and brown titanium. Price: $25,000 For more details, visit: degrisogono.com/#/en/timepieces/men/instrumento-n%C2%B0-uno-xl
Rado Specchio If there is one brand that is eponymous with the use of cutting-edge materials in its watches, it is Rado. The Specchio range features elegant contrasts between colours, shapes and materials, including the first appearance in rose-gold colour of Rado’s proprietary ‘Ceramos’ ceramic-metal composite. Price: $2,500 For more details, visit:rado.com
Carl F Bucherer Patravi TravelTec FourX One of the most promising and well-strategised luxury watch brands out there, Carl F Bucherer presented a stunning contemporary watch that combined titanium, ceramic, rubber and rose gold together with a three-time-zone display! Surprisingly easy to use once you figure it out, the watch is powered by an in-house movement. Price: $50,000 For more details, visit: carl-f-bucherer.com/en/collection/patravi/models/traveltec-fourx/
Bulgari Papillon Voyageur Though master watchmaker Daniel Roth stopped working for Bulgari a while ago, his name still drives a collection of extremely fine masterpieces for Bulgari (it bought his company and brand name). The latest in that line is the Papillon Voyageur, featuring a patented dual-time system told through an ingenious planetary rotating mechanism. Just 99 pieces exist. Price: $50,000 For more details, visit: www.bulgari.com
Harry Winston Opus 12 The Opus 12 is testament to Harry Winston’s ambition to be seen as a serious watchmaker and not just a jewellery brand. Designed by Emmanuel Bouchet, it converts each of the hour markers into a rotating hour and minute hand instead of having a single minute and hour hand. It’s a joy to watch. Just 120 pieces exist. Price: $260,000 For more details, visit: harrywinston.com/store/timepieces/opus/products/opus-12
LIMITED EDITION Limited edition pieces often have intricate work that cannot be produced in larger numbers. For watch connoisseurs, it isn’t sometimes enough to sport a great watch on their wrists. It must be numbered too. Ideally in two digits, but three is acceptable too.
Laurent Ferrier Galet Platinum Micro-Rotor Laurent Ferrier worked for 37 years at Patek Philippe before turning independent. And it shows. Instead of exposing his completely new automatic mechanism that claims to improve over Abraham-Louis Breguet’s 1789 original through the dial, he hides it. What you get is an oh-so-classic white grand feu enamelled dial in a smooth pebble-like case with a blue small seconds display at 6 o’clock. Only 18 pieces exist. Price: $200,000 For more details, visit: laurentferrier.ch/en/lf-collection/galet-micro-rotor/
(Prices are approximate and international. Given India’s high duties and taxes–35-40% currently– expect local prices to be significantly higher.)