The weekend crowds have waned at BaselWorld, the watch and jewelry industry’s marquis gathering of the year. But timepieces unveiled in these last days of the show are some of the most exciting to be seen yet. In today’s debuts, the best watches employed rollers to convey the time, resided in carbon fiber cases, catered to a marine theme, or were issued in innovative sets and series of timepieces.
Maitres du Temps was founded as a brand for which three of the watch-making world’s greatest minds could collaborate on the creation of one magnificent watch. And then, a different group of three would commence on the next watch, and so on. This year Maitres du Temps’ second timepiece debuted, and it is appropriately named Chapter Two. The great minds behind the new timepiece are Daniel Roth, Roger Dubuis, and Peter Speake-Marin. Their ground-breaking creation is a mechanical triple calendar watch. According to Speak-Marin, the goal with this timepiece, which was three years in the making, was to make it the most vivid, readable watch. The most distinguishing characteristics of the design are two rollers—one across the top and one across the bottom—which display the names of the months and days of the week, respectively. On the central dial that is dominated by large Roman numerals are a big date display and seconds subdial. The sapphire crystal case back (which is octagonal) reveals the entirely hand-finished movement, and a rotor shaped like a goblet (into which all three designers pour their ideas) combined with an M, for Maitre du Temps. The company plans to make 200 pieces this year. The red gold version will cost $65,000 and the white gold version will cost $67,000.
The annual debut of Harry Winston’s Opus watch is one of the most anticipated moments of the watch world’s calendar. Since the series began in 2000, many of the geniuses of the industry—some on staff at Harry Winston and others who work independently—have poured their creative energies and signed their names to one out-of-the-box watch for the house of Winston. This year, for the Opus 9, the pair of designers come from within Harry Winston’s team: Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and Eric Giroud. The result is a mechanical watch that makes diamonds not just decorative, but functional—the perfect purpose for a watch from the diamond master Harry Winston. The watch’s curvy, boxy white gold case contains two chains of precious stones that seem to float along either side. Each chain consists of 33 diamonds interspersed with three Mandarin garnets, the latter serving as markers as the chains roll with one side pointing to hours and the other pointing to minutes. The automatic watch will be limited to 100 pieces, and sell for $180,000.
Ellicott looked to the Stealth fighter jet as inspiration for its newest addition to its line of sports watches for men. And its first Stealth chronograph, named the Mach One Royal, puts the jet’s materials and shapes to sleek use. This extremely light cushion-shaped watch features a dial made from carbon fiber and epoxy, some parts crafted from tantalum, an open case back protected by UV glass, and a case made from either pink gold, titanium, or titanium with gold. In addition to a crown, the watch features a case-top crown on the left edge of the dial that rotates the inner bezel. Our favorite version is the 250-piece “Air Force” limited edition, in carbon. Prices range from 20,000 to 45,000 Swiss francs.
Franc Vila introduces a new case shape to his collection this year, and it is a natural evolution of his acclaimed “esprit unique” case. The new Cobra line is based on a wide oval case with elliptical-shaped bezels and crystals, recalling the silhouette of an upright cobra snake head. All of the variations released are designed to work well in intense sports settings, with carbon fiber inserts used to protect the watch. The timepiece, which includes chronograph functions and big date, displays its data on a carbon fiber and guilloche dial. Both the crystal and open case back are sapphire with double sided anti-glare treatment. Cases and bezels are available either in steel or red gold with carbon fiber, and each version is limited to 88 pieces. Prices start at 23,000 Swiss francs in steel.
Ulysse Nardin’s heritage has always been linked with the sea. And this year its most remarkable introduction continues the connection, with a twist. The new Moonstruck watch depicts the scientifically accurate moon phase, as well as the ebb and flow of tides as a result of lunar and solar gravitation. The watch is a complex invention that also happens to be a work of beauty. The center of the dial is dominated by a painted enamel earth as viewed above the north pole. A moon rotates around the earth, and a sun occupies new positions in relation to the globe continuously. The 46-mm watch also features a pointer calendar and a quick-setting device to adjust the hour hand forward and backward to any time zone via pushers. Moonstruck is powered by Ulysse Nardin’s UN-106 in-house movement. It is available in a limited edition of 500 pieces in red gold, for $83,000, and 500 in platinum, for $108,000.
Bremont introduces its first dive watch in 2009, the SuperMarine 500. To ensure the new watch would withstand the rigors of diving for decades, Bremont worked with a company that builds ejection seats in aircraft to put it through intense testing. For durability, the watch’s movement sits in a rubber mount, and it contains anti-magnetic materials. The steel case has also been treated to give it a hardness of 2,000 vickers, while the sapphire crystal—which bears the printed bezel details–is crafted with anti-reflection properties. In addition to hours, minutes and seconds, the watch displays day and date in high Superluminova on a black, blue or off-white dial. The crown is comfortably located at the 2 o’clock position on the 43-mm case. It will sell for $4,500.
Sets and Series
H. Moser & Cie’s famous in-house movement is the HMC343 that uses two spring barrels in series to give a power reserve of at least seven days, plus an exclusive double hairspring escapement design. This year, the hand-wound movement will be put into a version of every timepiece model in the Moser collection. The watches that contain the movement will be encased in palladium and bear a beautiful, Fume dial, which is varnished brass to create a mysteriously smoky appearance.
Perrelet is launching a set of two complicated timepieces that are music to the ears, in many ways. One watch in this “Maestro Edition” is a mechanical alarm, and the second is a minute repeater. Both of the automatic, steel timepieces feature a subtle music staff around the dial, and a small G clef on the seconds hand. They come in a tall box that resembles a speaker system, but actually contains two forward-facing illuminated watch winders, and a Logitech sound system with iPod dock. Each of the 50 sets in this limited edition sells for 49,500 Swiss francs.