Unique complications Peerless complexity
Displays, operating mode, structure, indications: these watches simply have no equivalent and are thus unique in their kind, although not necessarily crazy or expensive.
One might be tempted to believe that watchmaking perpetually gravitates around the same themes that it merely rehashes; that the catalogue of horological complications is complete and well-defined; that originality and innovation are the exclusive preserve of tiny disruptive brands seeking to distinguish themselves from the competition at all costs. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many models that stand alone in doing what they do. We owe them to a broad spectrum of super-famous, moderately-known or more discreet brands. Better still, these exceptional high-performance timepieces are not necessarily unaffordable.
The split-second chronograph is prestigious, but very limited in scope. It serves to time two simultaneous events and to display their respective times. But the only hand capable of following this discrepancy is the seconds hand, and for anything beyond a one-minute difference, users have to resort to counting on their fingers. The Double Split by A. Lange & Söhne is the only watch to have two pairs of stopwatch hands keeping track of both seconds and minutes.
Another solution invented to solve this issue is the Twin Chrono by Louis Vuitton, which is in fact equipped with three coordinated chronograph movements. Starting the timecount activates the first two movements. A first press on the stop pusher stops the first movement and gives the time of the first competitor. Meanwhile, the second timecount powered by the second chronograph movement continues to keep track of the second competitor, and a third differential display counter starts. A second press on the stop pusher serves to read off the time of the second competitor, while the third chronograph counter shows the difference between the two. All that is then required is to zero-reset and the watch is ready for action again.
Power-reserve indicators are either linear or circular, but always regular, meaning that the space between each unit of reserve is identical… except with the Oris Calibre 110. The latter’s autonomy is indicated in an irregular manner: the lower the reserve, the broader the graduation and the finer the reading of an indication that is all the more important as the power dwindles.
Almost all the Opus models feature an unparalleled display, which Harry Winston has made their very reason for being, and no. 14 is no exception. In addition to the running retrograde indications of the hours and minutes, a swing arm picks up a disc situated beneath the hours dial and places it on a turntable at 2 o’clock. The disc thus turns and displays either a second time zone or the date.
Chronometry is at the heart of watches but is read off on the outside, since evaluating the rating precision of a watch involves a stint on a test bench. Urwerk has decided to take the ‘heart’ concept literally. Its EMC is equipped with a system that reads off the chronometric performance of its mechanical movement by means of a tiny laser and an electronic circuit housed inside the watch itself.
72,000 vibrations per hour is the absolute frequency record for mechanical watches, held by Breguet. It is implemented in two watches: the Type XXII chronograph and the Classique Chronométrie 7727. The latter is extremely dressy, highly innovative, and operates at 10 Hz.
The Gregorian calendar gets close scrutiny in the watchmaking world. Perpetual calendars are generally designed to keep track of its vagaries, including normal and leap years. But there are other calendars in use on the planet. Blancpain is the only brand to have devoted the requisite energy to reproducing a Chinese perpetual calendar, and the 57260 by Vacheron Constantin is likewise the only model to feature a Hebraic perpetual calendar.
A number of devices have been invented that pursue the same purpose as the tourbillon: setting the sprung balance into motion so as to counteract the detrimental influence of gravity upon its precision. The Cartier Astroregulator takes a different approach, by fitting its entire regulating organ inside a micro-rotor. Since the escapement is constantly upside down, it stays in the same position in relation to the ground. Thus maintaining the same profile makes it easier to adjust and impressively accurate.
Admirers never tire of observing the beauty of mechanical watches… albeit through the back, once they are off the wrist, which is not very practical! Glashütte Original had the idea of reversing one of its movements so that its finishes and its most spectacular organs are visible through the dial. Better still, the caseback side has become the dial itself. The PanoInverse reveals all and it’s a pleasing sight.
There was a time when automatons, which bear a number of similarities with watches, were the world’s most sophisticated and precious objects. Mechanisms imitated life with its various movements and even its sounds. Songbirds were the glory of their manufacturers, the most famous of which was Jaquet Droz. The brand is currently the only one to offer wristwatch also serving as a sapphire birdcage. The mechanical magic of the Charming Bird enables it to swivel and chirp almost like its real-life feathered counterpart.
Mechanical movements are basically sandwiches, composed of two layers of metal – the baseplate and the bridges – enclosing the functional organs such as the gear train, the barrel, the escapement, and so on. Richard Mille has ditched these traditional structures in its RM 27-01, since its movement is protected from shocks by a cable-suspension mechanism.
A watch, a movement, a complication, a dial – an inseparable whole. This implicit watch industry rule has been shattered with the Metamorphosis II from Montblanc. It uses a single movement to show two different faces: the first is a regulator-type display with a date indication, while activating a slide on the dial causes the dial to split and slide aside, thus revealing a second one, which is coupled with a new complication: a previously inactive and undetectable chronograph.
Following the vision of Ferdinand Adolph Lange to build the world’s best watches, A. Lange & Söhne strives for ultimate precision and explores new avenues in order to advance the art of fine...Find out more >
Blancpain is the archetypal Manufacture: with a watchmaking heritage dating back several centuries, it has successfully preserved its watchmaking tradition, whilst welcoming a spirit of innovation.Find out more >
Breguet’s archives, kept in Switzerland and in Paris, record the developments that have sustained Breguet watchmaking for more than two centuries. The firm is committed to remaining ahead of its...Find out more >
Characterised by audacity and inventiveness, Cartier’s watchmaking history reflects a unique state of mind: “jeweller of kings and king of jewellers”. Its renown is bound up in the tradition of...Find out more >
Glashütte Original is the rightful heir to Germany’s 170 years of legacy in the art of watchmaking. Glashütte Original is an authentic high-end manufactory that outfits all of its watches with...Find out more >
Harry Winston’s commitment to quality and fine craftsmanship, in keeping with the finest traditions of Haute Horlogerie, remains the unmistakable signature of a rare degree of legitimacy in the...Find out more >
An elegant, outward-looking philosophy that dates back to the Age of Enlightenment is still at the heart of Jaquet Droz's identity. The fine and rare handcrafts practiced at the company’s workshops...Find out more >
True to its founding spirit, Louis Vuitton makes watches that combine excellence, innovation and originality for the benefit of people who love travel and adventure. The watchmakers of La Fabrique...Find out more >
Synonymous with excellence in craftsmanship and design, Montblanc has been pushing the boundaries of innovation ever since the Maison first revolutionized the culture of writing in 1906.Find out more >
Richard Mille did not simply try to find his place in the watchmaking world – he carved one out for himself, constantly striving not to take anything for granted, and to make innovation and extreme...Find out more >
Few brands are as closely associated with the rise of avant-garde independent horology in the new millennium than URWERK, the Geneva-based brand with Swiss-German mechanical foundations.Find out more >