Mark­ing Time

De­sir­able, his­toric, so­phis­ti­cated — we meet the watch brands that con­tinue to in­no­vate and wow.

Virgin Australia Voyeur - - EXEC STYLE - Words KEN KESSLER

Aude­mars Piguet

Since its found­ing in 1875, Aude­mars Piguet has en­joyed a lofty sta­tus as part of a tri­umvi­rate of brands pre­dat­ing the newly ar­rived houses of the past 30 years. Along with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Con­stantin, it has been one of the goto sources of horo­log­i­cal ex­cel­lence. That said, Aude­mars Piguet will for­ever be known for cre­at­ing not just a mem­o­rable watch, but for be­ing be­hind an en­tire genre of time­pieces. The prod­uct is the Royal Oak, which first ar­rived in 1972 and her­alded the birth of the sport/dress watch — a model that could with­stand the rigours of sport and the rav­ages of H2O, but one that also seemed per­fectly in place at a black-tie af­fair. The Royal Oak has now grown into an en­tire fam­ily of watches, em­brac­ing all man­ner of met­als, sizes and also com­pli­ca­tions. And yes, there are mod­els for its fe­male fans.

BREITLING

Think a pi­lot’s watch, and one of the first names that springs to mind is Breitling. Although its achieve­ments in­clude early chrono­graph de­vel­op­ments and leg­endary div­ing watches, its mile­stone is the 1952 Nav­itimer. Its bezel ro­tated to ac­ti­vate a cir­cu­lar slide rule, al­low­ing avi­a­tors to per­form com­plex cal­cu­la­tions in the days be­fore GPS and com­put­ing. While the slide rule is no longer nec­es­sary, it re­mains the sig­na­ture fea­ture of this chrono­graph, which has never been out of pro­duc­tion.

Cartier

Few of the brands in this round-up would be pro­duc­ing wrist­watches were it not for this Parisian jew­ellery house. Asked by pi­lot Alberto San­tos-Du­mont in 1904 to cre­ate a watch that could be read with both hands on the con­trols, Louis Cartier de­signed a time­piece bear­ing the pi­lot’s name — and, in the process, cre­ated the world’s first se­rial-pro­duc­tion wrist­watch. The San­tos has been a sta­ple of the Cartier line ever since, en­joy­ing a re­birth for its cen­te­nary. A few years af­ter de­sign­ing the San­tos, Cartier cre­ated the Tank; one of the world’s most trea­sured time­pieces, it cel­e­brates its 100th an­niver­sary this year.

DIOR

Over the years, fash­ion houses en­ter­ing into watch­mak­ing have de­liv­ered a mix of the in­ex­pen­sive that sim­ply bears their lo­gos to com­plex pieces as de­sir­able as any. Among those tak­ing the dis­ci­pline se­ri­ously is Dior, with its ‘high jew­ellery’ mod­els, unique com­pli­ca­tions and — for men — the über-cool Chiffre Rouge. You can­not go wrong with a watch that shares its name with a Bond vil­lain.

Eterna

In 1947, when ex­plorer Thor Hey­er­dahl made his leg­endary cross­ing of the Pa­cific on a raft, he and his crew wore Eterna watches. The brand re­warded this trust with the KonTiki, a wa­ter-re­sis­tant time­piece that has spawned nu­mer­ous mod­els since its 1958 launch. How de­sir­able are th­ese? This au­thor owns three…

GI­RARD-PERREGAUX

One of the old­est and most re­spected Swiss watch brands, Gi­rard-Perregaux is a true man­u­fac­turer, which makes ev­ery­thing in-house. Among its many achieve­ments in more than 225 years is the Lau­re­ato, named af­ter the 1967 Hol­ly­wood mas­ter­piece The Grad­u­ate (Il Lau­re­ato). Launched in 1975, this oc­tag­o­nal beauty mar­ries sport and dress with peer­less his­tory.

Fred­erique Con­stant

Al­most sin­gle­hand­edly, this rel­a­tively young brand (founded in 1997) has proven that high-qual­ity, en­tirely Swiss­made me­chan­i­cal watches that of­fer in-house move­ments and clas­sic styling can ex­ist at sen­si­ble prices. What is so as­ton­ish­ing about the com­pany is that it has been able to pro­duce so many cal­i­bres in such a short time, and pro­vided mod­els with high com­pli­ca­tions at price points that are nor­mally the pre­serve of time­only mod­els.

HUBLOT

Rocker? Foot­baller? Rap­per? Fash­ion vic­tim? Street artist? Then Hublot is the watch for you. Launched in 2005, the lux­ury watch­maker has taken the world by storm. An over­sized sport/dress watch, it’s avail­able in so many vari­ants that any forth­com­ing cat­a­logue will have to run to 500 pages. As for the cool­ness, the brand has part­nered with Fer­rari, so gear-heads will love the mod­els with the pranc­ing horse logo.

IWC

A man­u­fac­turer with roots in Amer­ica but now wholly Swiss, the In­ter­na­tional Watch Com­pany has pro­duced a phe­nom­e­nal list of pieces — but for many, it's all about the se­ries of Mark watches that pi­lots have de­pended on for more than 80 years. This year, IWC pays homage to one of the great­est — the Mark 11 — by re­leas­ing the Mark XVIII.

Jaeger-LeCoul­tre

Along with Longines, Jaeger-LeCoul­tre is one of the brands that can lay claim to cre­at­ing the most in-house move­ments, in­clud­ing the small­est me­chan­i­cal move­ment in the world: the Cal­i­bre 101. Most brands have a sig­na­ture piece, and for Jaeger-LeCoul­tre, it has to be the Rev­erso. De­signed to sat­isfy the needs of polo play­ers in 1931, it has come to em­body the beauty of the Art Deco pe­riod and has en­joyed clas­sic sta­tus since its con­cep­tion.

Kari Vouti­lainen

Among the new wave of mas­ter watch­mak­ers, the Fin­nish artisan Kari Vouti­lainen, born in 1962, ranks among the best. All his hand­made time­pieces are pro­duced in small num­bers — wait­ing lists are not un­heard of — and his lat­eral think­ing has re­sulted in the world's first dec­i­mal re­peater, sound­ing hours, 10-minute in­ter­vals and then min­utes.

Mont­blanc

The glob­ally fa­mous lux­ury pen man­u­fac­turer has spent two decades re­fin­ing its skills and build­ing its rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most so­phis­ti­cated ate­liers in Switzer­land. Along with mind-bog­gling com­pli­ca­tions, sport watches and dress mod­els, Mont­blanc has been cap­ti­vated by vin­tage styling. If you’re look­ing for pe­riod looks with mod­ern in­nards that sim­ply tell the time, the 44mm 1858 Au­to­matic is an un­beat­able knock-out.

LONGINES

For those who know their watch his­tory, Longines may just be the most im­por­tant brand of all. Like Jaeger-LeCoul­tre, Longines has cre­ated hun­dreds of in-house move­ments, and is re­spon­si­ble for such no­table mod­els as the Hour An­gle and a run of now highly col­lectible mil­i­tary mod­els. For­tu­nately, Longines ap­pre­ci­ates its own ap­peal and has been known to pro­duce com­mem­o­ra­tive mod­els when the mood strikes.

Aude­mars Piguet Royal Oak in frosted pink and white gold; www. aude­mars-piguet.com.

Cartier The iconic Tank watch; www. cartier.com.

Breitling Nav­itimer Breitling DC-3 Lim­ited Edi­tion; www.breitling.com.

Eterna

Kon Tiki in bronze; www.eterna.com.

Dior

Chiffre Rouge I02 with white gold bracelet; www.dior.com.

Fred­erique Con­stant The Clas­sics In­dex Au­to­matic; www.fred­erique con­stant.com.

Gi­rardPer­re­gaux Lau­re­ato in pink gold; www.gi­rardper­re­gaux.com.

IWC

Pi­lot’s Watch Mark XVIII; www.iwc.com.

Hublot Big Bang Fer­rari Unico King Gold; www.hublot. com.

Jaeger-LeCoul­tre Rev­erso One Duetto Jew­elry in pink gold; www.jaeger-le coul­tre.com.

Mont­blanc 1858 Col­lec­tion Au­to­matic; www.mont­blanc.com.

Longines

The Lind­bergh Hour An­gle - 90th an­niver­sary; www.longines.com.

Kari Vouti­lainen Vingt-8; www. vouti­lainen.ch.

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