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Design - Elegance Reborn

Design Elegance Reborn

Casual chic is losing its mystique, diving models are no longer thriving, elegance is gaining eloquence, as watchmaking gradually reinstates its precious, formal and ceremonial side

Collector sneakers, cashmere joggers and athleisure are still spreading through our clothing culture. Their corollary – the slow but sure disappearance of any kind of formal elegance – was suffocating the dress watch. Yet casual chic has not done away with chic itself, as after several years of reigning supreme, steel watches, titanium timepieces, diver’s models of all kinds, especially vintage ones – and indeed anything that can be worn with anything – are making room for elegant watches. These had tended to remain stored away in their boxes, drawers, or winders. The time has now come to bring them out again, as the pendulum is already beginning to swing back.

Elegance reborn

Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar © A. Lange & Söhne

Simple or sophisticated 

One need only look at the latest generation of Calatrava timepieces. The true heart of Patek Philippe lies in a restrained, slim and dainty aesthetic, made of gold and accompanied by highly sophisticated exterior finishes – a set of attributes impeccably exemplified in the new Reference 6119 models. The case middle is a long curve ending in understated two-tier lugs and the bezel with a double-row Clous de Paris hobnail pattern requires particularly careful guilloché work. A. Lange & Söhne owes everything to this classicism, and don’t let the asymmetrical dial layout of its Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar fool you: they are a token of (literal and figurative) eccentricity epitomizing the most sophisticated elegance. This piece is a true formal evening-wear perpetual calendar. The same can almost be said of the Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40 in its rose gold version, a chronograph that is not at all sporty, even taking account of its vintage style.

Elegance reborn

Calatrava Clous de Paris 6119R © Patek Philippe

It's all in the details

Moreover, a number of increasingly pared-down models are continuing to emerge. First of all, Omega is offering a Power Reserve version of its Trésor Master Chronometer range, which is restrained yet not bare. The power-reserve indicator at 12 o’clock creates a discreet cardinal point, echoing the small seconds and the inscriptions on the dial that is sparsely populated by applied gold baton hour-markers, creating a perceptible yet uncluttered presence. In a similar vein, but a completely different interpretation, Chopard introduced this year its very first watch with jumping hours. Located at 6 o’clock, this feature sets a tasteful tone for the L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25, further enhanced by its rose gold window matching the small case. The latter features moderate thickness and rounded sides, ensuring a snug fit on the wrist. The large L.U.C “Dauphine-fusée” hand has never played such an important role, since it is the only one actually moving around the immaculate white enamel dial. For there is in fact nothing more delicate than bare watchmaking, which implies devoting an even higher level of meticulous care to the few details it involves. This naturally leads one to consider the Reverso Tribute, the most refined and stripped-back version of this almost century-old classic that remains truly timeless – in itself a sure sign of elegance. 

Elegance reborn

Reverso Tribute Small Seconds © Jaeger-LeCoultre

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