Some of my horological highlights of 2013
Six beauties to seduce the cognoscenti.
When I am in a social gathering and my occupation is revealed, the question, “Which is your favourite watch?”, invariably pops up. I liken this to being asked, “Which of your children is your favourite?” The answer is impossible to provide. My affection for one watch is not at the expense of another. Nevertheless, inevitably I often find myself pontificating about some watches that have crossed my path and contemplating the prospect of ownership.
In some instances, aesthetics alone are sufficient to seduce. In other cases, I am mesmerised by a complication or the ingenious incorporation of new technology. There is also the not inconsequential matter of cost. A timepiece which deserves praise when offered for sale at £2000, may be less deserving of praise when a five-figure price tag is attached. Price and virtue are inextricably linked.
I have perused my notebook and provided a few of my favourites of 2013.
Technical breakthrough – Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement L.M
An age old problem of mechanical watches is that as the tension of the mainspring becomes increasingly relaxed, the amplitude diminishes and the isochronism of the watch is affected. Over the years, various technical solutions have been employed including the remontoire.
A watchmaker with a train-ticket in his hand, conceived the idea of a blade that flexed, proportioning energy in equal pulses. After several years of research and development, the Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement L.M came to fruition.
It has recently won the GPHG “Aiguille d’Or” for its ground-breaking know-how. Seeing it in operation with the purple coloured silicon blade flexing is intriguing. Moreover, wherever you look the watch reveals many of its inner components, working in collaboration to impart time. (www.girard-perregaux.com)
Devilishly handsome and value for money – Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue
A reproduction is often an inferior rendition of a former design. It devalues the original and provides a pale imitation of a former great. By way of contrast, Tudor has cleverly reinterpreted former models, capturing some of the former essence but without creating a facsimile.
The Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue is devilishly handsome. Blessed with a fusion of modern-day dimensions, with subtle references to the past, it is an accomplished design. The knurled bezel, crown and push pieces are gorgeous and invite fingers to touch their textured form.
While the watch is available with a steel bracelet, the brightly coloured fabric strap is the “star of the show” and has a colossal quotient of style. The recommended retail price in Switzerland is CHF 4200 (approximately US $4743 or £2902) and represents superb value for money. (www.tudorwatch.com)
Favourite tourbillon – Glashütte Original PanoLunarTourbillon in red gold
The rationale for choosing a tourbillon is two-fold, namely, its appearance and the necessary skill required in its creation. Some will be surprised that I make no reference to enhanced rate-keeping, this is because, in reality, few tourbillons are purchased for this reason. Moreover, with today’s mainstream mechanical watches offering superb accuracy, the chronometric superiority of a tourbillon is questionable.
The Glashütte Original PanoLunarTourbillon in red gold has an intrinsic logic to its Teutonic display. It converses with the wearer with succinct portions of information, displayed on the dial with clarity and does not overburden the wearer with undue clutter.
Creating a tourbillon is often the preserve of the most accomplished watchmaker. Admiring the movement of the Glashütte Original PanoLunarTourbillon you cannot fail to be impressed. It houses many notable features and whilst there are more expensive tourbillons on the market, this is certainly one of my favourites of 2013. (www.glashuette-original.com)
Favourite diver’s watch – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver
“Never judge a book by its cover” is an adage often used and could be applied to this diver’s watch from Audemars Piguet. Ordinarily, I would shun bright orange hues and black ceramic details. However, I recall placing this watch upon my wrist and becoming instantly smitten.
This latest version of the Diver was launched at SIHH 2013 and is a “Boutique Only” model. Ironically, my two favourite versions of the Diver beforehand, with red and blue inner rotational bezels, were also Boutique Only.
A further reason this watch elicits adoring looks from my direction is the exhibition caseback. Where previous models have featured a solid caseback, this version indulges eyes with a view of the movement. The sight of the fabulous finissage within reminds the wearer of the craftsmanship practised, since 1875, by the maison in the Vallée de Joux. (www.audemarspiguet.com)
A timeless classic – Zeitwinkel 273°
As we approach a new season, various brands will be making last minute preparations to launch novelties and, to some extent, will render their former models as “has beens”. It is an aspect of the industry which I don’t like, as it conflicts with the notion of luxury. It effectively labels former models as redundant or disposable.
A timepiece that does not follow this strategy is the Zeitwinkel 273°. It has been designed to be a member of the small brand’s range for years to come. The design has a timeless quality and the large date and power reserve indicator are judiciously located ensuring ease of read off and clean, restrained aesthetics.
Within the stainless steel case resides a high quality, in-house, movement. Untreated German silver, Côtes de Genève motif and perlage, presented in different sizes depending on location, all contribute to the profound respect I hold for this model. The limited production capacity of Zeitwinkel ensures that the 273° will remain exclusive and the exacting execution of the case, dial and movement should mean that longevity is conferred. (www.zeitwinkel.ch)
A watch with a personal touch – Peter Roberts Grand Complication 5
Peter Roberts is arguably one of nicest chaps I have ever had the good fortune to meet. However, that is not the reason I have selected his timepiece for my list. Roberts is a watchmaking genius and over the years has taught illustrious watchmakers, Stephen Forsey, Peter Speake-Marin and Simon Michlmayr, to name but a few. Again though, this is not the raison d’être for choosing his watch.
The Peter Roberts Grand Complication 5 represents a man’s dream to create a watch that bears his own name. The resultant timepiece is stunning. Peter has drawn on his vast experience to source various components that are magnificent in their execution and show little evidence of cost consideration. This is the rationale for his timepiece earning its place on my list of six special watches.
The case is exceptional. I have repeatedly fondled its facetted form and it oozes luxury from every surface. The dial also looks high-end with no obvious hint of compromise. Five hands, three subdials and two apertures impart an array of functions, yet the information presented does not overwhelm the wearer, remaining user-friendly and simple to interpret.
It is, however, the finish and value that differentiates this timepiece from many other watches at the same price point. With an asking price of £18,000 including VAT, the price is simply too low. Yes, I did say too low. The Valjoux 88 base has been tirelessly enhanced by Peter’s caring hands. The vast amounts of time that have been expended on the watch are clearly not being charged at a fully commercial rate. If this watch bore the name of a large watch brand and had been subject to the calculator-wielding accountants it would be priced much higher. It represents exceptional value. (www.peterrobertswatches.com)
Best Watches of 2013 – Conclusion
The problem of working to a word limit and the very nature of lists of this type is that you reproach yourself afterwards. There are further timepieces that deserve mention and I now feel a sense of guilt that I have not mentioned these. I have therefore provided a short list of other horological delicacies worthy of consideration:
- Armin Strom Gravity
- Arnold & Son Time Pyramid
- Grand Seiko 44 GS Limited Edition
- H. Moser & Cie Nomad Dual Time
- Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Seconde Mysterieuse
- Patek Philippe Ref 5200 Gondolo 8 Days, Day & Date Indication
This article is part of “Best Watches of 2013” series for DreamChrono Blog :
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2014/01/best-womens-watches-of-2013-by-tracey-llewellyn/ (2013 Picks of Tracey Llwellyn)
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2014/01/best-watches-of-2013-by-matthew-boston/ (2013 Picks of Matthew Boston)
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2013/12/best-watches-of-2013-by-amr-sindi/ (2013 Picks of Amr Sindi)
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2013/12/best-watches-of-2013-by-michael-weare/ (2013 Picks of Michael Weare)
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2013/12/best-watches-of-2013-by-ken-kessler/ (2013 Picks of Ken Kessler)
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2013/12/best-watches-of-2013-by-eduard-osipov/ (2013 Picks of Eduard Osipov)