Limited edition watches You don't have to have been there to enjoy them!
Some “limited edition” watches are created especially for the participants in a particular event, and yet the general public also has access to them. Given the many hidden treasures they include, it would be a shame to pass up the opportunity!
All too often, they are not given the prominence they deserve. The timepieces produced by some major watchmakers to celebrate particular events (motor races, festivals, etc.) are often unknown to the general public, perhaps being available only from the event website and/or own-brand boutiques. You have to be quite determined to unearth them, hidden at the back of the case, behind the current collection.
And that’s rather unjust. These limited editions are often perceived as mementoes, capsule collections, temporary offerings. It’s true that they are produced solely for a specific event, but the care and creativity lavished upon them sometimes means they have more to offer than the current collections. Their limited numbers also help to increase their value.
An unmissable Porsche special edition
Chopard is a veteran of such event-driven creations. This year alone, the company has unveiled the Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition, the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 and the Superfast Chrono Porsche 919 Black Edition.
While the first two are relatively well known to the general public, the latter is less so. And yet it certainly merits more than a second glance. It’s one of Chopard’s most sophisticated and sporty designs. Its imposing and avant-garde lines are inspired by the new Porsche 919 Hybrid which, after a triumphant 2015 season, has the German motor racing stable already targeting an 18th world title in 2016. With its 45 mm diameter and brooding presence, the watch is something of a UFO in Chopard’s galaxy, and has already proved highly collectible.
Will the same apply to the Baume & Mercier Capeland Chronograph Flyback Passione Engadina? It’s more of a risk, but the Geneva watchmaker has sponsored the motor race for three years now, and this deliciously vintage sports watch is very different from any of Baume & Mercier’s current collections, even its more athletic flirtations such as the Shelby.
Given the motor industry’s long-standing ties with watchmakers, there are plenty of brands offering limited editions. And yet you still need perseverance to track down the most exclusive limited editions. Belgo-Swiss watchmaker Lebeau-Courally is preparing to dedicate a few rare copies of its Le Baron to the prestigious Zoute Grand Prix. There will also be a women’s limited edition – the very first ladies’ watch produced by Lebeau-Courally for this event – which makes it a collectors’ item already.
Then there are the two gilded youths in the watchmaking world, each in his own category: Richard Mille remains highly exclusive with the limited series unveiled at the last Le Mans Classic, to the delight of flyback enthusiasts; and, on the adjacent track, Bell & Ross’s BR-X1 RS16 in forged carbon, titanium and ceramic, comes in a highly limited run of just 20.
Final notes and a mirascope
Chasing down limited editions in domains other than motor sport is a challenging but gratifying sport. Parmigiani Fleurier, for example, brings out a new piece each year for the Montreux Jazz Festival. In 2016 the festival’s founder, Claude Nobs, celebrated his 80th birthday, while his event celebrated its 50th. Which explains why the Tonda Métro Edition “MJF” released in 2016 for this double anniversary has already entered the history books.
And while we’re on the subject of history, we can’t fail to mention Christophe Claret. The watchmaker created the Aventicum to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the founding of the town of Avenches. This was also the first Christophe Claret to be equipped with a “mirascope”, an optical device designed to enlarge a miniature placed in the centre of the watch – a historic event in itself because it was a watchmaking first.
The final hunting ground for limited edition collectors is sport. TAG Heuer, for example, created a watch for the Patrouille des Glaciers race, last April. This is an unusual departure for the La Chaux-de-Fonds company, as can be seen from the Formula 1 Patrouille des Glaciers Special Edition. It’s a rugged and sporty watch that’s all the more enjoyable to wear given that very few people will ever have the pleasure!
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