Time Traveller: an overview of luxury time-keeping Featured

Clock the sphere of human achievement through watches exploring nature's extremes.
by 12 May 2009

Phileas Fogg and Napoleon were Breguet men, Jacques Cousteau never dived without his Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont took to the skies in Cartier and Breitling’s classic Cosmonaute was created after astronauts requested a timepiece that enabled them to differentiate day from night.

Just as the moon controls the ebb and flow of the tide – allowing us to measure the passing of time itself – the relationship between watchmakers and adventure is implicit. Those who spend their lives pushing the boundaries of human achievement have always kept a closer eye on time than most. Rolex’s famous Explorer model was designed in honour of Edmund Hillary’s ascent of
Everest, while no style-conscious deep-sea diver would be seen 4,000 feet down without their Sea-Dweller Deepsea, with stainless steel casing and black dial with luminous hands.

Now new wristwatches, inspired by the greatest adventures known to man, are testament to that relationship. Romain Jerome’s designs embody both history and human endeavour. His Moon Dust-DNA watches, filled with moondust and fragments of Apollo XI, pay striking homage to the lunar landings, and the exclusive Titanic-DNA range incorporates rusted steel taken from the hull of the doomed ship.

And while only a select few will descend to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge or orbit the lunar highlands in our lifetimes, there are luckily many new models reflecting the forays of the more urbane traveller. Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore model bears all the hallmarks of extreme sportswear: water-resistant to 100 metres, antimagnetic and featuring blackened titanium, vulcanised rubber and materials which adjust to the body’s temperature. Elsewhere, the watch faces in Patek Philippe’s Nautilus collection are designed to mirror the portholes of cruise liners. Each dial in Vacheron Constantin’s super limited-edition Les Masques series showcases an ancient mask from the planet’s indigenous civilizations - Asia, the Americas, Africa or Oceana – timely reminders of the cultures beyond our ken. There will always be time for adventure, it seems.