Out of seconds Featured

When technical expertise meets a creative spirit, the results are some of the world's most extreme watches
by 28 September 2010

Strong silhouettes, great complications and limited editions – if you are a watch connoisseur or collector, a watch is not just a watch any more. In a continuous effort to achieve greater precision and better design, watchmakers and designers work hand in hand. “Precision is our greatest challenge. Sometimes it comes down to finding every millimetre of space, fitting every piece together and making the movement work,” explained Magali Métrailler, the designer of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s extraordinary men’s and sports watches, when I interviewed her at SIHH. While precision is a technical quality, the concept of time is something quite different. It may seem strange to hear great watch designer Franck Muller say that time does not exist. He said to us at WPHH last year, “Time is just a human invention that helps society organise its days and nights.” Whether you see time as an abstract concept, or whether you are someone who fights for every precious minute of the day, we have picked out this year’s most outstanding references for you.

The spirit of navigation is the theme at IWC this year with the celebration of its Portuguese collection, which enters its eighth decade. “Portuguese is our iconic collection. IWC is a rather masculine brand, but this collection is also worn by many women. Our brand new Portuguese Yacht Chronograph will successfully cater to watch lovers who want something sporty yet elegant at the same time,” added Michael Brouwer, Associate Director Project Management. Indispensable when sailing in rough seas, this new chronograph houses the IWC-manufactured 89360 calibre with flyback, stopwatch functions and much more. Now, you can brave the waves also with the collection’s many references.

Panerai celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s first observation of the moons of Jupiter, which ultimately led to acceptance of the idea that the earth rotates around the sun. Panerai is paying tribute to Galileo’s work, which also included experiments on the isochronism of pendulums, with their Luminor 1950 Equation of Time Tourbillon Titanio. The most technically sophisticated wristwatch ever made by Panerai, it comprises a 30-second tourbillon that rotates perpendicular to the axis of the balance (as with their first tourbillon), the equation of time, sunrise and sunset times, and a sky chart on the case-back. The latter functions can be placed in the owner’s choice of location.

Outstanding, elegant, daring – this not only perfectly describes the modern gentleman, but also the new Calibre de Cartier collection launched at SIHH 2010. Cartier returns to its watchmaking roots, presenting its very first own-manufacture self-winding mechanical movement, Calibre 1904 MC. Don’t be misled by the clean design, because in fact you can see details such as the Côtes de Genève work on the upper bridges, and the oscillating weight through the case back. 1904 was the year when Louis Cartier made a watch for aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont so that he could read the time while keeping his hands on the controls during flight. Today 1904 MC echoes this pioneering and innovative spirit.

Back in 1920, a young swimmer, Mercedes Gleitze, wore the prototype of Rolex’s iconic diving watch and swam across the English Channel. After 10 hours underwater, the watch was still in perfect working order. The historic event marked the birth of Rolex’s diving watches. Named the “Oyster,” the watch featured a sealed case which provided optimal protection for the movement. This year, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date watch is made with brand-new materials. For the first time, its dial and outer rim will also be available in green Cerachrom for greater visibility under water. The movement has a unique, blue Parachrom overcoil balance-spring, greatly improving its accuracy.

Istanbul FW 2010