The year will be remembered, thanks to the ingenuity, state-of-the-art technology and innovation employed in these watches. Hiren Kumar Bose cherry picks the most excellent and finest timepieces of the year
BREGUET Tradition Dame 7038
The 37mm case proudly exhibits almost all the movement’s components on both sides of the main plate. The bezel of the 18-ct white gold case is set with 68 brilliant-cut diamonds, whereas the crown is set with a watch movement jewel. Powered by the numbered and signed movement, calibre 505SR, which is visible through the watch’s sapphire-crystal caseback. The main plate features a subdial at 12 o’clock bearing hands directly driven by a central barrel. A balance-wheel and intermediate wheels form an arc stretching from 4 to 8 o’clock. The hours and minutes are displayed on a finely-turned Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial, lending the watch flair of elegance. Discreetly, at 10 o’clock, the retrograde seconds are engraved on the movement face.
BULGARI Serpenti Incantati Tourbillon Lumière
The 41mm 18-ct pink gold, set with 209 brilliant-cut diamonds Serpenti Incantati Tourbillon Lumière gives a new lease on life to the snake symbol, Maison’s unmistakable signature. After coiling around the wrist, the snake is now reinvented by wrapping itself for the very first time around the case of a round watch: the reptile literally twines itself around the watch dial, framing an entirely skeleton-worked Manufacture tourbillon calibre, BVL Calibre 208. This airily graceful movement is a work of art: the main plate and bridges are crafted in pink gold, the flanks are straight-grained, the rims and sinks are all chamfered and systematically polished. Circular graining and snailing set the finishing touches to this precious craftsmanship which is being issued as a limited 50-piece edition.
HUBLOT Big Bang Unico Sapphire
The 45 mm 500-pieced Big Bang Unico Sapphire models are cut straight from sapphire, without losing the sapphire’s unique and rare character—a first on such a large scale. The case middle, bezel and back of the watch are cut from blocks of sapphire, a material which is almost as hard and scratch-resistant as diamond (9 on the Mohs scale as opposed to 10 for diamond). Only a few pieces forming the spine of the watch are made from titanium: the screws, the crown, which is over-molded with silicon, and the deployant buckle. Its skeleton dial, made from transparent resin, reveals all the gears of the proprietary Unico HUB1242 movement and its finishes. Complementing its ethereal silhouette, its strap – transparent – is invisible so that the skin can be seen through it.
LOUIS MOINET Memoris Red Eclipse
With a single gentle touch on the monopusher, a unique performance unfolds before your eyes: the mechanism of steel parts and gears comes to life, all coordinated by the column wheel at 12 o’clock. The column wheel itself, with teeth at the base and vertical columns that have been precision cut, is the star of the show. The multiple facets of this symmetrical part bring to life the various levers that pass on information to the hands. The movement is neither a skeleton nor an additional module; it’s an all-new feature, designed for and around the chronograph. So much so that Louis Moinet has opted to locate the automatic movement’s time mechanism to the rear of the piece, beneath the plate. The movement’s parts are hand-decorated: angling and black polishing embellish the mechanism, set against a mysterious, starry backdrop. This is crafted using a traditional rose engine – a tool which, despite being all of two hundred years old, has just found a new application. Limited to 12 examples, the 43.6mm “Red Eclipse” highlights its heavenly ancestry with a red moon in gold-leaf enamel on its oscillating weight, as well as hand-crafted engravings on its bridges and bezel. The white gold case is also fully hand-engraved, on the theme of the lunar eclipse, and decorated with jewels at the end of the lugs. Memoris time, meanwhile, is displayed on a Grand Feu enamel dial.
A. LANGE & SOHNE Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon
A work of horological art, the 41.5mm platinum cased watch has three complications, namely chronograph, perpetual calendar and tourbillon with five supplementary functions. Limited to 100 watches, the Datograph designates a column-wheel chronograph with a precisely jumping minute counter, a flyback function and the typical Lange outsize date. Being a perpetual calendar watch a first correction of the mechanism by one day can wait until the first day of March in the secular year 2100. And because of its stunning mechanical precision, the moon-phase display will only deviate from the true lunation by a single day after 122.6 years. For the first time in a Lange tourbillon with chronograph, the balance beats at a rate of 18,000 instead of the conventional 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour. This corresponds to a frequency of 2.5 hertz. Consequently, stopped times can be displayed with an accuracy of one-fifth of a second. The patented stop-seconds mechanism instantaneously brings the balance wheel inside the tourbillon cage to a standstill when the crown is pulled. This allows the watch to be set with one-second accuracy.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN Maître Cabinotier Retrograde Armillary Tourbillon
Produced by the three master watchmakers who created Ref. 57260– the most complicated watch ever made with 57 complications—they have incorporated two of the complicated features of the super watch: the armillary tourbillon and the double retrograde indication. The high-precision manually wound movement is housed in a 45.7mm case in white gold. Four patent applications have been filed for this unique model. The retrograde function governs the hours and minutes while the tourbillon revolves on two axes and has a spherical balance-spring. The movement coated with NAC (a special metal alloy) is also revealed through lateral windows in its imposing case. The manually wound calibre 1990 movement developed in-house features retrograde hours and minutes indications with instant flyback. The hands flick back to zero at such a speed that the special attention is needed to ensure a precise indication and such lightweight and resistant materials as the titanium used in the hands. The lighting reaction of the retrograde hands contrasts with the statelier pace of the armillary tourbillon with a spherical balance spring. The elegantly structured tourbillon operates as a sphere perpetually rotating on two axes under a sapphire crystal dome at 9 o’clock. The tourbillon carriage, made of lightweight aluminium alloy, incorporates the brand’s Maltese Cross emblem, which forms up every 15 seconds as the tourbillon rotates. This ongoing spectacle may be admired every 30 seconds through a sapphire crystal opening on the side of the case. The armillary tourbillon is fitted with a new type of escapement, made as lightweight as possible by the use of high-tech materials, contributes significantly to the performance of this watch, which greatly exceeds the requirements of the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).
IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde
One of the fascinating aspects of this 44.2 mm watch is its unusual presentation of the flying tourbillon, consisting of 82 parts, as a “12” that appears to come to life. After the 31st day of the month, the retrograde date display automatically jumps back to the 1st; in shorter months, the hand can be directly advanced using a rapid-advance system until it reverts to the 1st. The 7-day power reserve display indicates how much energy remains in the IWC-manufactured 51900 calibre. The arched-edge front glass endows the watch with classic, balanced appearance. The horns are ergonomically optimised to make the watch more comfortable to wear on a slimmer wrist. The reverse side of the watch with its see-through sapphire-glass back is also more attractive. The narrower and partly perforated rotor – made of solid red gold – provides a generous view of the IWC-manufactured calibre, which also features blued screws. The tourbillon turns at “9 o’clock” on the dial rotating around its own axis once every 60 seconds to counteract the pull of gravity on any disequilibrium in the balance wheel that would adversely affect the watch’s rate and accuracy. The construction of this mechanism represents an enormous challenge and results in a filigree work of art consisting of 82 parts.
TAG Heuer Monza
The watch revisits a watch Jack Heuer devised in 1975 to commemorate Ferrari’s winning F1 season. The all-black cushion case of the original has been modified to sharpen its lines, the dial is more symmetrical, and the crown moved to the right flank, but the overall design is pure ’70s. The 42 mm watch’s dial retains the bold red accents and Heuer shield logo, and a leather rally-style strap would make old Enzo happy. The reissue features the watch’s two key functions – the pulsometer and the tachymeter scale (not included on previous reissues) – and with the original font. The famous original coussin case is the centrepiece, and is all black, just like the historic model, with black and white lacquered hour and minute hands as on the original. The same applies to the indices in vintage orange SuperLuminova™. The case is made from grade 5 titanium, making it lighter and more shock resistant. The material is coated with titanium carbide to give it a powerful, matt black appearance. It is equipped with a “super racing” strap in full-grain black calfskin with top-stitching, which evokes the design of the three-spoke steering wheel on the racing cars of the time. Inside, the 17 automatic calibres, a chronograph with its two chronograph counters at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock – perfectly spaced for a beautifully harmonious dial. The screw-on back is numbered and features the historic HEUER logo engraved with red lacquer finish.
Citizen Eco-Drive One
A mere 1mm in height, thinner than the strap you wear it on; that’s what this 38.25mm watch is. To mitigate its fragility, Citizen uses high-tech Cermet, a ceramic derivative that is not only light and strong but also ultra hard and highly scratch resistant. The world’s thinnest light-powered watch: At just 2.98 mm*. Developing Eco-Drive One was a journey into the world of microns. Just 1.00 mm thick, the movement contains 85 components, packed together with cell-like intricacy. The makers used techniques like getting single components to perform dual functions and rebuilding the rotor and coil from scratch to turn conventional watchmaking on its head and create something revolutionary. The name Eco-Drive One comes from the movement being just 1.00 mm thick. Just one millimetre, it’s still jam-packed with all Citizen’s ingenuity and passion.
ULYSSE NARDIN Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon
Designed to look just like the teak deck of a beautiful sailboat, the time display of the 45 mm watch pulls a boom across the wooden marquetry dial using high-tech nanowire around a series of winches that emulate the rigging of a ship. The boom-style retrograde minute hand moves along a translucent blue arc minute counter and offers the coolest animation when it hits 60 and returns to zero. Hours are indicated via a double-disc “big” jumping hour display. Because setting the time using this system can be slow, Ulysse Nardin designed the in-house made calibre UN-630 movement with a quick-set system for the hour indicator. A pusher above the crown allows you to advance the current hour in one-hour increments. In addition to the jumping hour indicator and the retrograde minute hand, the UN-630 movement also has a 60-minute flying tourbillon. Look out for the high-end sailing boat-style pulleys that move the small wires which are just 0.0357mm in thickness. The Ulysse Nardin calibre UN-630 movement is manually wound and produced from 469 parts operating at 3Hz with a 48-hour power reserve. The movement has a unique finishing, as seen through the rear of the sapphire crystal caseback window, and doesn’t look like any other Ulysse Nardin watches that come to mind. Two barrels are used in the movement, with one to power the time regulation system and another for the complications.
ROLEX Air King
With its 40mm case in 904L steel, solid-link Oyster bracelet with Oysterclasp, and distinctive black dial, the new Air-King perpetuates the aeronautical heritage of the original Rolex Oyster. Rolex uses 904L stainless steel for its steel watch cases. 904L is mainly used in the high technology, aerospace and chemical industries, where maximum resistance to corrosion is essential. A superalloy, 904L is extremely resistant and highly polishable. It maintains its beauty even in the harshest environments. The Air-King is equipped with calibre 3131, a self-winding mechanical movement developed in-house, is a certified Swiss chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) tests. The Air-King is the very first Rolex to feature a crown and signature in two different colours.
OMEGA Globemaster Annual Calendar
The inspiration for the Globemaster Annual Calendar movement comes from the 12 facets of the watch’s Pie Pan dial. A central varnished blue hand indicates the current month through an instantaneous jump. To accommodate the new Annual Calendar feature, the stainless steel case of this Globemaster has been increased to 41mm. The classic Pie Pan dial is presented in a lustrous shade of grey with polished blue hands and the bezel is made from hard metal (tungsten carbide). The timepiece is driven by the new OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8922, while the Master Chronometer certification card that accompanies the timepiece proves that the watch has passed the eight intensive tests established by METAS.