Laurie Kahle | Photo: Courtesy Images | October 31, 2013
At its finest, the art of watchmaking strikes a delicate balance between honoring centuries-old tradition and exploring cutting-edge innovation.
Each year, dozens of timepiece houses release models touting singular achievement in both, but it’s the rare examples of modern horology that truly distinguish them in the watch world. We choose to celebrate these manufacturing marvels.
Montblanc’s Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours novel time display distinguishes itself with an hour counter in the aperture and twin turning-disc chronograph counters. Time is displayed with Arabic numerals in black for daytime and pale blue for after dark. $34,700, at Montblanc
Rolex’s latest Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II is fitted with a Cerachrom bezel that echoes the design of its predecessors. Using an exclusive process developed by the brand, the new bezel shades daytime hours in blue and nighttime hours in black, and seamlessly combines the two in one single piece of ceramic. $8,950, at Tourneau
Hublot’s MP-05 LaFerrari harnesses the power of 11 interconnected barrels to generate a 50-hour power reserve—a record for a hand-wound tourbillon wristwatch. Pushing the limits of extreme engineering, the watch is limited to only 50 pieces and pays tribute to Ferrari’s just-released supercar of the same name. $345,000, at Hublot
Patek Philippe’s chic and ultraclassic Calatrava Ref. 7121 expands the brand’s growing lineup of complex timepieces for women, with a distinctively feminine moon-phase display that runs for 122 years before accumulating a one-day error. $36,700, at Tiffany & Co.
Tudor’s Heritage Chrono Blue reinterprets the brand’s coveted 1973 Montecarlo chronograph for the 21st century—while the color scheme, small seconds counter and 45-minute chronograph all reflect vintage design, the three-dimensional hour indexes use contemporary SuperLuminova technology to light up the dial for optimal legibility at night. $4,425, at Wempe
Bulgari‘s Berries watch draws the eye to the unconventional jumping hour display with a colorful swirl of diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. The aperture shows the hour in numeral form, while a hand progresses across the mother-of-pearl marquetry dial to indicate the passing minutes. $71,000, at Bulgari
Chopard’s L.U.C Engine One H in titanium evokes the dashboard of a sports car with its radical horizontal layout. A spinning tourbillon fitted with a small seconds display on the right recalls a speedometer, while the power reserve on the left serves as a fuel gauge. $87,190, at Chopard
Movado’s new Vizio incorporates PEEK, a lightweight and robust carbon fiber-reinforced resin, into both its 42 mm case and the bracelet’s outer links. The mix of modern materials also includes a tungsten carbide bezel and a black carbon fiber dial. $2,195, at Tourneau
A. Lange & Söhne’s 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar elegantly combines a rattrapante chronograph with a highly accurate perpetual calendar, power reserve and moon-phase display, complete with 410 stars, cut using a patented laser technology. $189,000 in 18K pink gold; $213,000 in platinum, at Wempe
Blancpain’s Chronograph Grand Date in 18K white gold presents a mother-of-pearl dial, atypically separating its Roman-numeral time display from the chronograph counters with a wave of diamonds, while the big date appears in twin apertures at 6 o’clock. $43,900, at Blancpain
Vacheron Constantin’s trio of vibrant women’s watches, Métiers d’Art Florilège, references delicate botanical illustrations in Robert John Thornton’s 1799 book, The Temple of Flora, by painstakingly recreating floral plates using the time-honored decorative techniques of guilloché engraving, enameling and gem-setting. $125,600, at Vacheron Constantin
Breitling’s Emergency II doubles as a lifesaving device when you unscrew its crowns to extend antennae that activate homing beacons. Expected at the end of the year, the next-generation Emergency transmits on both the 121 MHz air distress analog and 406 MHz digital frequencies to help ensure a speedy rescue. $14,825 on rubber strap; $15,750 on bracelet, at Breitling
Jaeger-LeCoultre culminates 180 years of watchmaking with its Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 Jubilee, a limited-edition dual-cage tourbillon, whose mechanism features a unique spherical balance spring and a digital chronograph display with its own power source. Price upon request, at Cellini Fine Jewelry
Omega’s Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 Gauss resists magnetic fields—which can wreak havoc on a mechanical watch—with the patent-pending Co-Axial caliber 8508 movement, built using nonmagnetic materials. $6,500, at Omega
Harry Winston’s Opus XIII, developed with watchmaker Ludovic Ballouard, carries on the Opus tradition with a mind-blowing time display that employs 59 tiny pivoting hands to show the minutes and 11 rotating triangles to display hours around a faceted sapphire crystal dome. $298,200, at Harry Winston
Officine Panerai’s PAM 389 Luminor Submersible 1950 Amagnetic 3 Days Automatic Titantio resists high levels of damaging magnetism. A special case construction protects its movement, while the unidirectional rotating bezel crowned with ceramic disc is a first for the brand. $12,400, at Officine Panerai
Breguet’s Reine de Naples Day/Night romantic day and night indicator traces the eternal dance of the sun and moon, using the movement’s golden balance wheel to represent the former, while the latter is engraved on a titanium disc. $122,900 in rose gold; $123,900 in white gold, at Breguet
Ulysse Nardin’s Royal Ruby Tourbillon invites you to peer deep into its complicated mechanism—its main plate and bridges are cut from transparent ruby and sapphire—which makes the flying tourbillon appear to float in midair. Price upon request, at 561.353.1846
Girard-Perregaux’s Constant Escapement provides unwavering energy levels to the balance wheel for heightened precision. The groundbreaking Escapement design’s distinctive butterfly-wing frame and vibrating silicon blade on a central axis steadily beats in the lower half of the dial. $123,500, at Girard-Perregaux
TAG Heuer’s Carrera MikroPendulum uses magnets to regulate its high-frequency chronograph with a dual-chain platform that uses a balance wheel system for the time display and an unprecedented pendulum system to power the chronograph. $37,500, at TAG Heuer