New retrograde watches mesmerise with their impressive technique and avant-garde displays
etrograde watches, with their linear or arc displays, which differ with every watchmaker, and hands that act like levers, seemingly jumping from one point to the next, are intriguing mechanical inventions. There were many great examples at the watch shows in Geneva and Basel this year.
Inspired by Abraham-louis Breguet, the Frenchman who first produced similar timepieces in 1796, Breguet’s Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097 boasts an open dial where the wheels, escapement, barrel and other usually-hidden components of the movement are the focal points, exquisitely decorated and highlighted by a retrograde seconds display at 10 o’clock and the hours and minutes display at 12 o’clock.
Harry Winston’s Midnight Retrograde Second Automatic creates a fascinating visual with its large retrograde small seconds display on the outer left side of the dial, complemented by the contrasting hours and minutes display on the upper right. The timepiece is the latest member of the brand’s Midnight collection, which carries the design codes of Harry Winston’s Fifth Avenue salon.
Metamorphosis II is one of the most complex movements developed by Montblanc. Its most striking feature is an “overlaid dial” that opens like a curtain to change from a time display to a chronograph. An hour counter at 12 o’clock, a retrograde minute hand and central seconds are for timekeeping, while central chronograph seconds and a 30-minute rotating disc counter at 6 o’clock are for the chronograph.
Equipped with a double retrograde display for the day and date, Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Retrograde Day-date is a great example of technical expertise matched with clean aesthetics, in a case of pink gold matched with a slate-coloured opaline dial.