There are now as many supermodels as super watches heating up the scene at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva. Eva Herzigova, Helen Svedin and Adriana Lima were all spotted during the weeklong festivities in January, as were notables such as Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen and Ewan McGregor. But the spotlight never strayed from the magnificent watches, presented to great fanfare by some of the biggest names in the industry.
The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Double Flying Tourbillon is like the Cirque du Soleil of timepieces. Rendered in blackened titanium, it is skeletonized for dramatic effect, and never stops moving, which makes it as visually exciting as it is technically masterful.
A couple of years ago, an Italian magazine conducted a study to see which watch brand spent, on average, the most time on one timepiece. Montblanc’s elite Minerva workshop in Villeret came out on top. The latest in this highly anticipated collection is the Villeret Chronographe Régulateur Nautique. It is actually a pair of timepieces that celebrate the age of marine chronometers, consisting of a chronograph watch with a traditional regulator dial and a large navigational clock that shows three time zones and a world-time indicator.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon is a variation of the brand’s inimitable and by now iconic three-bridge tourbillon. This one interprets the bridges in blue spinel, through which the rest of the movement is visible. The original three-bridge tourbillon was gold, and presented at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889. The case and bracelet are made of titanium, which keeps it light (0.3 grams) and wearable. It is limited to 10 pieces.
The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day Tourbillon is so-named for its 14-day power reserve, enabled by four mainspring barrels. It’s a stand out as the first Vacheron timepiece to be approved according to the new rules governing the Poinçon de Geneve – the Geneva Hallmark. Previously this hallmark applied to the finish of movements, while the new rules rate the finish of the entire watch. If you like a high complication combined with pure, understated design, this is your watch.
The gloriously complicated Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Spherotourbillon is a double-axis tourbillon with several technical innovations. Notable among them is its power source–it is driven by two mainspring barrels and two separate going trains; one powers the tourbillon and the other, the time indications and calendar. Another distinction is the stop-seconds flyback function which, in addition to returning the seconds hand to zero, according to the flyback principle, makes the watch adjustable to the nearest second, a rare function that allows the wearer to synchronize the watch with an external time signal. The flyback aspect of the stop-seconds is a world first. Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon is a variation of the brand’s inimitable and by now iconic three-bridge tourbillon. This one interprets the bridges in blue spinel, through which the rest of the movement is visible. The original threebridge tourbillon was gold, and presented at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889. The case and bracelet are made of titanium, which keeps it light (0.3 grams) and wearable. It is limited to 10 pieces.
Van Cleef & Arpels, master of watchmaking’s métiers d’art, the crafts adds a new complication to its bag of tricks with the exceptionally creative Poetic Wish. The movement is a five-minute repeater–the brand’s first–and a first for its creator, the Swiss boutique movement workshop Aghenor. It departs from the typical repeater mechanism in that instead of the gongs attaching to the inner case, where they reverberate against the metal, they coil outwards from the center of the movement, reverberating against the sapphire crystal.
A. Lange & Söhne, the German master of classic understatement and master watchmaking, has combined a tourbillon and perpetual calendar in this timepiece. It is typical of the brand in that presents an abundance of information in an extremely legible format. The calendar display is positioned outside the hour and minute circle and the tourbillon cage is discreetly referred to on the dial front, yet only visible through the sapphire caseback. A patented stop-seconds mechanism makes it possible to instantly block the balance, so the watch can be set to one-second accuracy.
Cartier’s high watchmaking showpiece this year is the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, containing one of four new in-house movements introduced by the brand. The case, shaped for optimum sound transmission, is made of titanium, with the gongs linked to the middle of the plate at four points rather than the inner case sides. It is equipped with a patented “inertia and friction” regulator, a component that controls the strike train and reduces the space needed to house such a complicated mechanism. The result is a very complex double complication that is small enough to fit under a cuff.
Even serious watch collectors sometimes forget two things: gemsetting can be just as exacting and time-consuming as watchmaking, with an equal degree of hand finishing; and the significant other of every watch enthusiast should rightly have at least one high jewelry watch. The latest haute joaillerie piece in Piaget’s Limelight Garden Party collection is the dazzling, diamond-set Piaget Rose, a tribute to brand scion Yves Piaget, an avid gardener with a penchant for roses. It is set with over 700 diamonds totaling 9 carats. The middle section is hinged, opening to reveal the dial.
Richard Mille’s latest unconventional tourbillon, the RM056, is like a postmodern office tower that is all curtain wall and high technology. The watch is encased entirely in sapphire crystal, offering a complete view of the inner workings from all sides. Richard Mille says the sapphire case took 1,000 hours of machining. It is a split-seconds chronograph tourbillon and, in case you want to actually read the indications, they are laser-engraved in red and yellow.