Top 10 watches in the world
Our highlight of the best new timepieces, from mens luxury watches to Swiss mechanical watchesby Cheryl Chu
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A. LANGE & SÖHNE
Richard Lange Tourbillon "Pour le Mérite"
At first glance, the revolutionary dial stands out with its three overlapping hour, minute and seconds display. The large minute circle dominates the smaller subdials showing the seconds and hours. For this design, A. Lange & Söhne drew inspirations from Johann Heinrich Seyffert's work. He was a master watchmaker who produced watches for a very selected group of royal court members and scientists. The chronometer he made in 1807 featured three intersecting circles for the time displays, and it was accurate from one second in 24 hours when perfectly stable, up to only four or five seconds a day.
The Richard Lange "Pour le Merité" watch carries on Seyffert's quest for precision. Its seconds subdial's round cut-out reveals a beautiful tourbillon, which can simply be halted by pulling on the crown. This lets you set the watch to one-second accuracy. And thanks to the perfected fusée-and-chain transmission, the watch provides a constant power reserve of 36 hours. With such an eye-catching dial, this watch bears the attribute “Pour le Mérite”, a distinction that has been conferred on a Lange watch only three times since 1994.
During our interview with Anthonie de Haas, Director of Product Development, he said, "There is a lot of unknown when you develop something new. But you just have to take it one step at a time. You don't know until you try. For example, I didn't know how big the reaction would be to the Zeitwerk, but I thought it would be fun to put in a striking mechanism into the Zeitwerk. How do you know? It's an experience.
"Watchmaking is one of the world's fewest professions involving craftsmanship. If you can work in high-end watchmaking, you have the chance to make incredible pieces. For watchmakers, it's wonderful. And when you make something great, you really see people's eyes light up."
The Millenary 4101 is a curious timepiece that reveals its beauty and sophistication upon close inspection. Similar to the Millenary Deadbeat Seconds, which we reviewed last issue, the new 4101 watch showcases its movement on the face of the dial. The self-winding Calibre 4101 has been painstakingly designed, produced and decorated in-house. During our interview, Chief Artistic Director Octavio Garcia recommends this watch to our readers, emphasising that this will be an important piece for collectors.
Millenary Hand-wound Minute Repeater
Did you know that the minute repeater and the grand strike are the world's oldest horological complications? Before the invention of electricity, time had to be "told" also by sound. Pocket watches in the 15th century were equipped with the striking mechanism to sound every hour. And in the late 17th century, the invention of the quarter-repeating mechanism made it possible to announce the passing of every quarter and hour. When Audemars Piguet was founded in 1875, it already manufactured minute repeater and grand strike ("Grande Sonnerie") models, launching its very first minute repeater wristwatch in 1892.
After launching the Millenary Quincy Jones limited edition watch last year, Audemars Piguet continues its love affair with the sound of music with the brand new Millenary Minute Repeater. Featuring the new AP escapement, oval case and three-dimensional structure, the watch will prove to be a new classic.
The AP escapement draws inspiration from an 18th century mechanism, and it combines the efficiency of a direct-impulse escapement with the reliability of a Swiss level escapement. What's special about the AP escapement is that it reduces energy loss, eliminates the need to lubricate pallets, so it's even more accurate, stable and more resistance to shock.
The hand-wound Calibre 2910 contains an innovative, flat double balance-spring system that improves precision; and two movement barrels that provide an impressive seven-day power researve. To maintain the crisp sound of the minute repeater, the third barrel of the striking mechanism is two and a half times larger than normal.
This Audemars Piguet watch has an oval-shaped case in hand-brushed titanium, the anthracite gray hours and minutes subdiale at 3 o'clock, and the small seconds at 7 o'clock. The movement is decorated with the Geneval Seal. All the beautiful details amount to a visually stunning timepiece.
BAUME & MERCIER
For Baume & Mercier, life is about moments. Its new ladies’ collection, Linea, is a great example of the joy and leisure of seaside living in The Hamptons. Choose from various case sizes, movement types and precious materials for any occasion.
Classima Automatic Jumping Hour
While the classic silvered "barleycorn" guilloché dial, the black Arabic numerals and the beautiful alligator strap might look familiar, what's new about this Classima is its jumping hour function, powered by the automatic Dubois Depraz 14400 movement. Adorned with the "Côtes de Genève" motif, the movement, as well as the oscillating weight engraved with the brand's PHI symbol, can be admired on the back of the watch through the sapphire crystal case back. Limited to just 500 pieces, the steel-cased timepiece is a great collectible piece.
Classima Red Gold Dual Time-zone and Power Reserve
This Classima is slightly smaller, measuring 39 mm in diameter (the Automatic Jumping Hour measures 43 mm). The 18-carat red gold case and the elegant black dial with straight-line guilloché pattern make a sophisticated statement. The self-winding Soprod 9035 movement, with the "Côtes de Genève" motif, powers the dual time-zone, power reserve and date function, which is displayed at the 3 o'clock position. This new Classima also features the brand's PHI symbol on its oscillating weight, which you can see through the sapphire crystal case back.
Calibre de Cartier Multiple Time Zone
For those of you who travel from one capital to another, Cartier's new Calibre de Cartier Multiple Time Zone watch is the best travel companion. Last year, Cartier debuted its Calibre collection, and in 2011, they have pushed both the movement and design to higher grounds. Individually numbered, the Calibre 9909 MC is a self-winding mechanical movement with a cities disk, day-night indication and time-difference display. What I found very practical is how the dial features a "higher" and "lower" dial. The upper one features a sophisticated grey dial, and a silvered openwork grill with sunburst effect. For optimal legibility, the day-night hands and multiple time zone hands are blued. And the lower dial is silvered with black Arabic numerals. Whether you are in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris and so on, time in on your side with this travel-friendly watch.
Rotonde de Cartier Astrorégulateur
Traditionally, watchmakers use the tourbillon to compensate for inaccuracies caused by gravity. Cartier, after five years of research and development, has come up with an ingenious movement: the Calibre 9800 MC, where the rotor holds the secret behind the precision of time measurement. Fitted with the escapement, this unique rotor moves at a constant speed, thanks to an innovative system invented by Cartier. This movement - hand-finished, individually numbered, with the Cotes de Genève decoration – powers the 50-piece limited edition watch.
The Portofino Dual Time
IWC gets a little dreamy this year by reviving its Portofino collection. As the knowledgeable Kurt Klaus, from IWC’s Research and Development, explained during our interview, the Portofino collection was first created for Italian customers looking for an elegant yet mechanically brilliant watch. Stefan Ihnen, Associate Director Research & Development at IWC, recommended the Portofino Dual Time to Luxos readers. With a 24-hour display in the upper half of the dial, the watch keeps track of the time back home. The new automatic winding movement, Calibre 64710, can be admired through the sapphire glass back, and it has a power reserve of 72 hours.
Overall, the design was elegant and sophisticated, with a generously sized case which measures 45 mm in diameter. As a tribute to Italian craftsmanship, the leather straps of the Portofino Dual Time and the Eight-day Hand wound watches, are made by Santoni, the Italian shoe manufacturer. This is a watch that you can look at again and again, as its understated beauty is simply timeless.
The Grande Reverso Ultra Thin
Jaeger-LeCoultre's Reverso has always been a very popular luxury sport watch. Its design concept came about in 1931, when English polo players in India needed an unbreakable watch that could withstand the impact of their rigorous sport. So, Jaeger-LeCoultre watch designers came up with an ingenious idea: a watch with a reversible case. For everyday wear, the elegant watch can be worn normally; and during the game, all the polo player has to do is flip the dial over and it will be perfectly protected from any shock or impact.
This creative design marked the beginning of an important journey for Jaeger-LeCoultre. In 2011, the Reverso will celebrate its 80th birthday. Throughout the decades, the Reverso has renewed its cult status again and again with different looks: with precious stones, dials with various motifs, colours, a variety of straps and bracelets, and so forth. Its dimensions have also evolved: smaller for women, larger for men, rectangular, square... What is intriguing is that the Reverso is instantly recognisable from afar, which is also one of the many reasons for its enduring popularity.
At SIHH 2011, Jaeger-LeCoultre will be launching the new Grande Reverso Ultra Thin to celebrate the collection's anniversary. The timepiece is equipped with Calibre 822, which is only 2.94mm thick and boasts a power reserve of 45 hours. This is a mechanical manual-wind movement completely crafted, assembled and decorated by hand. And if you don't happen to be a polo player, the watch is water-resistant to three bar, so you can wear it to go diving or snorkeling during summer.
Besides its slenderness, lightness and superb comfort, this new Reverso also offers a personalization option. You can have your initials, your polo club's emblem, your lucky number or even have an enamel portrait of your beloved spouse painted on the steel or pink gold case back. Now, a piece of Jaeger-LeCoultre's history can be your very own by personalizing this new Reverso.
The Grande Reverso Ultra Thin comes in four references: two in steel and pink gold, and two of them called Grande Reverso Ultra Thin "Tribute to 1931" also available in steel, and limited-edition pink gold.
Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph Anniversary Edition
Montblanc celebrates the 190th anniversary of this unique chronograph with a limited edition this year. Invented by Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec in the 19th century, the original concept behind the "time writer" (where "chronos" means time and "graphein" means write) has not changed. The idea is to keep track of different time intervals while the watch displays the actual time. The Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph features the hour subdial at the 12 o'clock position, and a v-shaped bridge connects the 60-second subdial on the left, and the 30-minute subdial on the right, respectively.
The calibre MB R110 has a user-friendly mechanism, which allows the indicators to be reset either clockwise or counter-clockwise. There are a lot of details that make the dial so interesting. Below the hour dial, you will see the skeletonized date disk, where a little window underneath reveals the movement. On the case back, you will see how much autonomy is left in the 72-hour power reserve. With this limited edition, Montblanc pays the ultimate tribute to Nicolas Rieussec's legacy.
Time Walker Twin Fly Chronograph
The Montblanc TimeWalker Twin Fly Chronograph is a limited edition of 300 pieces. This all-black, column-wheel chronograph with the new MB LL100 calibre features a 24-hour subdial at the 12 o’clock position, and a 60-seconds subdial at the 6.
Star World-time GMT Automatic
The world in not enough. Then, how about having 24 cities right on your wrist? Jetsetters and business travellers like you need to know the local time around the world wherever you are, whether it's because you want to call your family back home, or to keep an eye on the opening hour of the stock exchange. So Montblanc has come up with the Star World-time GMT Automatic watch, which features a second time-zone in the centre of the dial, and an indication of 24 cities worldwide. This user-friendly timepiece houses the calibre MB 4810/405, which is a mechanical movement with automatic winding in both directions. Using the crown, you can adjust all the functions of the watch, thanks to a patented mechanism. The timepiece is water resistant to three bar, and offers a power reserve of 42 hours. Just enough time to embark on your next adventure.
When the crown is in an unscrewed position, turning it clockwise will wind the automatic movement; while turning it counter-clockwise will reset the world time zone ring on the outer ring of the dial. When the crown is pulled out to its first position, the date can be reset by turning it clockwise; and turning it counter clockwise, the GMT hand with the red tip will adjust the hour. And pulling out the crown to its second position, the 12-hour and the minute hands can be adjusted in the same manner.
Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo 47mm
Imagine a watch that ages like wine, or better than, a watch that ages with your life experience: where you go, what you do, how you want to be. Panerai's new Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo 47mm is a timepiece that ages on the outside, yet remains a precision time instrument on the inside. Equipped with the in-house P.9000 movement, this unique watch has a case which is made of a copper and purtin alloy, CuSn8. Besides being very resistant to the corrosiveness of sea water, this unique material "ages" with a beautiful patina over time. So, depending on where you sail, dive or travel, the bronze will naturally react to the air, humidity and heat, without changing its inherent properties of durability. With three days of power reserve and a water resistance of up to 300 meters, this watch is made to brave the waves.
Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Composite
Panerai’s P.9000 movement is entirely designed and manufactured in-house. Since its launch in 2009, the calibre has powered many a great Panerai watch, and the Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Composite is no doubt one of the most innovative timepieces this year. The case and the bridge protecting the crown are made of a synthetic ceramic called the Panerai Composite.
Much lighter than ceramic but much tougher than steel, this composite has been created by an advanced electro-chemical process. More innovative materials include the Super LumiNova, which ensures great legibility under water. There is a date display at 3 o’clock and small seconds at 9 o’clock. The unadorned brown dial and antiqued brown leather strap add an elegant touch to this ingenious timepiece.
Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Automatic
Piaget presents its very first ultra-thin automatic tourbillon watch, which magically refutes the belief that watches cannot be beautiful and complicated at the same time. During our interview with Franck Touzeau, Global Marketing Director at Piaget's Watch Division, the timepiece dazzled and sparkled at every angle. Mr. Touzeau said, “This year, we wanted to try a new concept that presents both interest and creativity.”
The tourbillon watch is equipped with Calibre 1270P, Piaget's first ever ultra-thin self-winding tourbillon movement. This calibre is born from a great couple of world's thinnest movements: Calibre 600P, a hand-would tourbillon movement; and the 1208P, a self-winding movement with a micro-rotor. The Calibre 1270P completes the ultra-thin movement collection, Mr Touzeau explained.
If you look closer, you will see the off-set micro-rotor, off-centre tourbillon cage, laser-printed sapphire glass dial, sunburst satin-brushed guilloché main plate, tapered hour hands, power reserve displayed on the case back and much more. The elegant, cushion-shaped watch sits very comfortably on the wrist, and with a wealth of design elements and an incredible movement, it will become an important piece in Piaget’s Black Tie collection.
If you are already familiar with Piaget's Altiplano, Emperador Coussin or its tourbillons, then this watch is a must-have this year. It's really a labour of love, the result of Piaget's know-how in movement manufacture and intelligent design.
La Monégasque Chronograph
Jean-Sebastien Berland believes that now is the perfect time to invest in an important chronograph. The La Monégasque Chronograph collection is a tribute to the glamorous world of Roger Dubuis. Its satin sunburst centre contrasts with the circular satin exterior, where the 30-minute counter is at the 3 o'clock position, and the small seconds dial at 9 o'clock.
But Roger Dubuis is more than just looks. The La Monegasque Chronograph is equipped with the calibre RD 680, which is entirely designed, developed and produced by the manufacturer. This self-winding mechanical movement with a micro-rotor not only powers the triple-pusher column-wheel chronograph, but also has the prestigious Geneva Seal.
The limited edition La Monégasque Chronograph Big Number, with its black, red and green palette, is available in the lucky number of 128 pieces.
Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time
The world time mechanism has had a long history for Vacheron Constantin, as Jean-Marc Vacheron and his successors had always travelled around the globe. The new Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time is the ultimate tribute to the maison’s watchmaking heritage. For the first time, the Calibre 2460 WT indicates 37 time zones, even those offset from the Universal Coordinated Time by a half or a quarter of an hour. Artistic Director Christian Selmoni said, “This watch is the perfect example of how we balance creativity and audacity with Vacheron Constantin's heritage and style. That's why Vacheron Constantin is considered the benchmark of watchmaking.”
Quai de L’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar
Last year when Vacheron Constantin unveiled its Métiers d’Art Collection, La Symbolique des Laques, it gave the word “painstaking” a new meaning, as the collection combined ancient Japanese lacquer painting technique with fine watchmaking tradition. At SIHH 2011, Vacheron Constantin will be launching a new model for its Quai de L’Ile Collection with a decidedly modern take on Haute Horlogerie: personalization. Besides this, the new Quai de L’Ile watch also offers a brand new calibre and a dynamic silhouette.
The 326-part Calibre 2460 QRA is a new mechanical self-winding complicated movement designed, developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin. It powers the annual calendar and a retrograde date display, a rare combination of complications. The innovative annual calendar handles both 30-day and 31-day months, so it only needs to be adjusted for February. The retrograde date display is useful too, along with a moon phase display which needs to be corrected only once every 122 years. Sounds exaggerated? Well, short-term solutions aren’t what this 255-year-old watch company is about.
The Quai de L’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar has a more streamlined look, and is available in pink or white gold. Moreover, it comes in a new 43-mm size, with a cushion-shaped case and a screw-down back fitted with a sapphire crystal pane. If you are looking for a more radical departure from the watch’s original trappings, then personalization would be the next step.
The Quai de L’Ile case, lateral flanks at 3 and 9 o’clock, lugs at 12 and 6 o’clock, the inter-lug pieces at the same positions, the support plate, the bezel, the back and the crown, as well as certain dial elements – all this can be personalized with pre-established options. The number of possible combinations come to about 700 within the entire Quai de L’Ile Collection.
And if you have yet to be impressed by this horological masterpiece, hear this: between 4 and 5 o’clock, there is a sun motif (inspired by the clock tower of the Tour de L’Ile) printed in invisible ink, seen only with ultra-violet light!
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
Poetic Complication “Five Weeks in a Balloon”
Van Cleef & Arpels’ unique approach to watchmaking has always been romantic. The new “Five Weeks in a Balloon” watch, a tribute to Jules Verne’s novel, Les Voyages Extraordinaires, is a great example of the maison’s haute horlogerie expertise and artistic prowess. Made with expert enamelling, the dial depicts a hot air balloon rising into the air. Admiring the champlevé enamel and mother-of-pearl inlay will induce you, so to speak, to become a little carried away.
The retrograde movement indicates the hour and minute on the balloon’s anchor and a bird in flight, respectively. Louis de Meckenheim, Marketing Watch Manager, said, "A lot of French children grow up reading Jules Verne's stories. This collection conjures up emotions of our inner child.” With its signature Poetic Complications and Extraordinary Dials, Van Cleef & Arpels is 100% emotions. This Poetic Complications watch is an invitation for new adventures.