As one watch editor said to me recently, pocket watches are a “perennial maybe,” meaning that they never quite become a trend, much less a mainstay among those who make and collect modern watches. However, there are luxury watch brands willing to produce a few of these timepieces each year. For the most part, these are not your grandfathers’ watches. Instead, they are often modern interpretations of the traditional timepiece.
Three models released at SIHH 2018 show the diversity, creativity and individuality in the interpretation of pocket watches. One may even remind you of your grandfather’s watch.
Montblanc 1858 Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100
This watch honors the 160th anniversary of the Minerva Manufacture, known for producing high-performance hand-made chronograph movements. The company was acquired by Montblanc in 2006 and was renamed Villeret, after the small Swiss town where it resides. However, the Minerva name still lives with Montblanc’s products and marketing.
Mountain exploration is the theme of Montblanc’s 1858 collection unveiled at SIHH and this timepiece certainly fits as this is a pocket watch with a compass on the caseback. This helps explain its 60 mm size, which is large even for a pocket watch.
The pocket watch is designed to be used multiple ways. It can be positioned on a table with a stand and transformed into a wristwatch through the use of an oversized brown Sfumato aged calfskin strap with two pin buckles. Finally, it can be held in the hand with the use of a brown Sfumato aged calf strap with a cover.
While the pocket watch is large it is light because it’s made of grade-two titanium with a polished and satin finish.
This pocket watch has a red central hand coated with SuperLumiNova indicating the time on a 24-hour scale on a dedicated minute-track. The dial is crafted of Dumortierite stone, a natural mineral, giving it a textured blue appearance. The signature design details of the Montblanc 1858 collection are all present, including beige SuperLumiNova Arabic numerals, indexes and hands; vintage fluted crown with monopusher chronograph and the historic Montblanc logo. The timepiece readings include a 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock and a small second counter at 6 o’clock, which are directly cut into the Dumortierite stone. Finally, there’s a central white chronograph second hand and a pulsometer scale engraved on the bezel.
The back of the watch where the compass is has an engraving of the four cardinal points, enhanced with SuperLumiNova.
The timepiece is powered by the new Montblanc Manufacture caliber MB M16.24 manually wound monopusher chronograph movement with the iconic V-shaped chronograph bridge and the Minerva arrow, inspired by the Minerva Monophuser chronograph caliber MB M16.29.
The IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years”
IWC is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year with a large and varied “Jubilee Collection.” One of the models it presented at SIHH was The IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” with jumping numerals. It is the first pocket watch from IWC with a jumping digital hours and minutes display since the production of the historic Pallweber pocket watch, which was first manufactured in 1884 and discontinued six years later. These innovative timepieces showed the hours and minutes in digital format with large numerals on rotating discs.
This new 52 mm pocket watch, limited to 50 pieces, has an 18k red gold case and a white dial with a lacquered finish and white display discs with black printed numerals. The small second hand is blued.
As a reference to the design of the historical Pallweber watches and a tribute to F.A. Jones—the American watchmaker who founded IWC—the windows of the digital display are labeled as “Hours” and “Minutes.” Two windows in the spring cover reveal the hours and minutes, so the time can be read even when the watch is closed. The case also features a closed dust cover on the backside.
The watch is powered by the IWC-manufactured 94200 caliber with a 60-hour power reserve. It advances the display discs through a separate wheel train with a barrel of its own.
Hermès Arceau Pocket Millefiori
The Arceau Pocket is based on the Millefiori decorative technique, which dates back to 19th Century glassmaking. The collection was designed by Henri d’Origny, Hermès legendary artistic director in 1978 and has been used in different ways ever since. For this year the resulting use of the technique takes on the appearance of black alligator scales. It may look like leather but it’s actually crystal with a softer appearance. The black alligator theme is continued on the caseback which is sheathed in black matt alligator.
The decorative dial is housed in a 48 mm white gold case and is powered by the Hermès Manufacture H1837 Swiss-made automatic movement. It is available in a limited edition of two pieces.