By Mike Espindle
The haute horologie brand Maitres du Temps’ stunning Chapter Three timepiece, which has a secret user-activated reveal window at 12 o’clock, now gets a few more color options for the discerning watch collector to ponder. A silver or charcoal face now adds to the enviable options.
The always distinctive look of a DeBethune timepiece is unmistakable. This year the house adds a sleek, black oxidized zirconium metal case to its artful mix of fine horology and futuristic design on its DB28. Also, a collection of four limited editions of coin-inpired art watches that feature the 12 Chinese zodiac signs was another highlight at the booth.
Adventure watchmakers Linde Werdelin add a tech-feel moon phase to their iconic Oktopus dive watch for this year. Look for the addition of more nontraditional complications on their dive watches moving forward as well as the integration of new cutting-edge materials, like compressed carbon fiber, across their entire line.
In a nod to traditional haute horology, the engineer/designers at innovative brand HYT ad an elegant tourbillion to their unique fluid-based time-telling movement. The miniature pumps that control the indicating fluids had to be angled to accommodate the movement changes and module, but that only indicates the flexibility of their unorthodox approach.
One of watchmaking’s “mad designers,” Yvan Arpa’s Artya studio introduces this rock-inspired Son of Sound timepiece. With a case shape and face details inspired by vintage Epiphone guitars and `’tuning pegs`’ for crowns and pushers, the watch face itself can be as customizable as any guitar is. This model features a Union Jack in wood marquetry.
Bulgari flexes some haute horological muscle with a series of animated minute repeaters inspired by the characters of the 16th century Comedia dell’Arte. This colorful complication features the character Brighella. Other show highlights included additions to the Octa and Bulgari Bulgari watch lines.
The UR-110PTH debuted in Basel from cutting-edge watchmaker Urwerk. It is a timepiece of contrasts…bright red and neon green on rich blackened platinum. The side-slung version of Urwerk’s signature orbital/satelling time telling approach gains sharp legibility as well as style in this iteration.
The master enamelists at the house of DeLaneau exhibited an amazing line of over 70 new timepieces at the show. Many of the watches utilized an almost expressionist/pointillist style to evoke a relaxed and nostalgic artistic vibe, like the tulip fields exhibited above. Each watch represents hundreds of hours of diligent and exacting enamel brushwork.
Boldly independent watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin presents a whimsical side in the first piece in his Mechanical Art collection. The Triad features triple hour-minute indications over a superb open dial, all set in a steel case crowned with a regal red gold bezel. Not three times zones, mind you, but an interlinked triple clockface that is fascinating to watch.
Ulysse Nardin stunned the show with an in-house developed musical mechanical watch that plays the melody to the Sinatra hit “Strangers in the Night.” Notes are struck using a `’music box`’ type method with small pins striking the metal blades visible on the face. The series is limited to 99 editions.
Romain Jerome watches are always special and out-of-the-box, like their Titanic DNA and Moon Lander series. There were extensions to those lines displayed at the show, as well as two limited edition new models. This retro “mechanical digital” Spacecraft watch harkens back to the 1970s with its approach to time-telling (with a digital look that is 100 percent mechanical).
In a hectic world, the watchmakers at atelier house Antoine Martin want us all to take it a little slower. This Slow Runner timepiece ticks along at just 7,200 beats per hour, a rate more typical of vintage pocket watches than today’s high-frequency chronometers, which represents 1MHz. A large seconds hand calls attention to the timepieces two-stop time counter, which only enhances the Zen qualities you’ll experience as a wearer.
In what many may consider the ultimate sport watch, master watchmaker Christophe Claret’s Kantharos timepiece packs a lot of unconventionality into a familiar watch approach. First, an all titanium case, add in a force constant function and top it off with a chrono-monopusher linked to a single-ping sonnerie function, giving the user an audible cue when the chronograph starts and stops.
In one of the most compelling new functions to be seen at this year’s show, Maurice LaCroix’s Mysterious Seconds watch presents a double-ended seconds indicator that appears to “float” around the watch face. The first thirty seconds are marked off in a retrograde arc along the x-axis and the last 30 are ticked off by the other end of the indicator traveling along the y-axis while the center pivot orbits around the crosshairs of the gauge. Fascinating.