Time, Editor's Pick

Exquisite Indulgence — Watches that Proof Outstanding Pieces Need No Precious Gems

Exquisite Indulgence — Watches that Proof Outstanding Pieces Need No Precious Gems

These watches are proof that outstanding pieces need not be adorned with precious gems.

Venerable Possession: A chronograph’s deceptively simple outlook is, in fact, a technically advanced feat, and a double chronograph increases it twofold, so to speak. The double chronograph or split-seconds chronograph is one of the few complications that are so complex that very few brands attempt to produce it. That very same complication finds its way to Montblanc’s 100-piece limited edition 1858 Split Second Chronograph, highlighting the brand’s technical prowess in haute horology.

Produced by the manufactures’ specialised atelier, Minerva, with 160 years of exceptional watchmaking heritage and production excellence, the astutely decorated Calibre MB M16.31 can be viewed through the open caseback. In line with the trend of pursuing vintage verisimilitude in watches, the black lacquered dial is contrasted against the beige printed telemetre and tachymetre scales, and Arabic numerals – evocative of old-school chronographs.

The same spirit is evident in the bronze case with a glorious shade of gold before developing a unique patina that ages with the wearer, highlighting the bond between watch and owner.

Force Majeure: The Zenith Defy Fusée Tourbillon proves there is more to the Swiss luxury watchmaker than chronographs, with a duo of high complications created by very few manufactures. Zenith rekindles its romance with two age-old complications and demonstrates its pedigree in haute horology by combining the fusée-and-chain regulating mechanism and tourbillon, invented in 1401 and 1795 respectively.

The fusée-and-chain transmission system of the manual winding El Primero Calibre 4805 SK regulates the energy delivery and provides constant force to the watch while the tourbillon negates the effects of gravity on the watch’s heart, both meant to improve the watch’s chronometric accuracy. The conical-shaped fusée and barrel can be seen sitting on the upper half of the dial with its blued chain standing out amidst the grey skeletonised carbon dial bridges while the tourbillon rotates effortlessly at the bottom.

The bi-coloured watch features a pair of faceted ruthenium-plated hands and a power reserve indicator, all housed within a platinum case. Only 10 such intricate pieces are created by Zenith, with a carbon case variant made in 50 pieces.

Métiers D’Art: In the world of Hermès, rarefied art becomes objects of desire crafted by artisans who make them daily companions for those who wear them. The latest iteration of the Slim d’Hermès, conceptualised by Philippe Delhotal, is crafted in refined white gold and features an exquisite dial woven in gold threads, in the style of the ancient Asian art of dyeing and weaving known as Ikat fabric-making.

A weft created by a multitude of fine threads – 1,165 to be exact – set against a blue backdrop, reveals the graceful curves of Hermès’s equestrian motif. The ends of each thread sit in a laser-cut cavity on the dial fused with a drop of 24K gold, which secures the thread while giving the dial a metallic glint. The French leather maison backs up the good looks of the Cheval Ikat with serious watchmaking pedigree – its ultra-thin automatic Manufacture Hermès H1950 calibre measuring 2.6mm in height is powered by a micro-rotor.

Only 36 pieces of the limited edition Slim d’Hermès Cheval Ikat is produced, and each is paired with an alligator strap.

Extreme Homologation: The Bell & Ross BR-X1 Tourbillon represents the pinnacle of the French-Swiss watchmakers’ partnership with the Renault F1 team, which is going into its fourth year with no signs of slowing down. With only 20 pieces made, the BR-X1 Tourbillon draws from Renault’s expertise in cutting-edge material technology.

The limits of case engineering are pushed with a lightweight titanium case and a protective bumper made with micro-blasted ceramic and rubber – integral components in Formula One cars. The highlight of the timepiece is the namesake complication, a flying tourbillon mounted at the dial’s bottom half with its signature ampersand logo sitting atop the tourbillon cage that acts as the watch’s seconds hand. Riotous colours of yellow, green, red, and orange punctuate the predominantly silver openworked dial.

An asymmetric bi-compax chronograph sits atvthe upper half of the dial, its 30-minute counter depicted in yellow, while the chronograph central seconds hand is housed in the green counter. A red power-reserve indicator lies discreetly at nine o’clock. The BR-X1 Tourbillon is powered by the manual-winding Calibre BR-CAL.283 blessed with a four-day power reserve.

Herald of Luxury: With the unabating appeal of luxury steel sports watches, the legendary Patek Philippe Nautilus is the epitome of desirability not only for its prestige but also its notorious scarcity. Inspired by the portholes of ships and crafted in stainless steel, the Gérald Genta designed watch is instantly recognisable with its rounded octagonal bezel and horizontal groove-embossed dial.

Unlike regular steel watches, the Genevan watchmaker displays its watchmaking virtuosity with unparalleled levels of refinement evident in the watch case and bracelet’s build quality and polishing. The Nautilus Annual Calendar Ref. 5726A/1A-014 shown above harks back to an original execution of the Nautilus, with a blue dial that gradates from blue at the centre to black at the dial’s periphery.

Patek Philippe demonstrates masterful execution and restrain in the dial layout – the month, day and date apertures are laid out symmetrically and perfectly balanced while lunar phases are depicted with its moon phase indicator and a 24-hour counter skirting around it. Beneath the dial lies the self-winding annual calendar calibre 324 S QA LU 24H/303 usually reserved for dressier watches.

Celestial Gemstone: The Omega Seamaster 300 is an admired and renowned watch with a history that stretches back to 1957. The classic design blueprint was the perfect starting point for the Swiss manufacture to reinterpret the classic watch in luxurious fashion – the dial of the diver is crafted from lapis lazuli, radiating a rich shade of azure thanks to a high composition of lazurite. A pair of faceted 18K white gold hands and vintage Super-Luminova indexes provide legibility.

Omega balances the luscious shade of ultramarine with a platinum-gold case as a perfect foil to allow the semi-precious stone dial to shine, where yellow or pink gold might be an overkill. The Seamaster 300 Lapis Lazuli is equally impressive in the technical department – powered by the chronometer-certified automatic Co-Axial Calibre 8913 with an 18K Sedna gold rotor visible through the open caseback.

Exotic Vivacity: The exhilarating partnership between Roger Dubuis and Lamborghini has brought forth a collection of watches that reflects both brands’ aesthetic codes and philosophy of pushing boundaries. Futuristic in appearance with an equally groundbreaking calibre to match, the latest watch born out of this relationship is the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Huracán Performante designed as a high-octane supercar for the wrist. The dial of the Excalibur Huracán Performante takes plenty of design cues from the luxury supercar such as the hexagonal lines running through the entire dial as well as the honeycomb grille that mimics the one found on the rear of the car.

Limited to 88 pieces worldwide, the timepiece sees a single 12-degree inclined balance wheel visible north of the dial – a speciality of Roger Dubuis. The watch is powered by the all-new Calibre RD630 made specifically for the collaboration with Lamborghini. The rotor is similar to that of a wheel rim where the upper portion of the calibre features a bridge designed to look like a strut bar much like the ones found across the V10 engine of the Lamborghini Huracán supercar.

The Excalibur Huracán Performante provides ample wrist presence with its 45mm titanium case featuring over-moulded black rubber inserts and fluted bezel. Predominantly coloured in shades of black and grey, Lamborghini’s trademark yellow is also proudly emblazoned across the watch.

This story first appeared in the February ’20 issue of Men’s Folio Singapore.