TIME PIECES WITH TALES TO TELL ; SMART WATCHES
THEY WERE COURAGEOUS MEN, CONQUERORS,
WAR HEROES AND CELEBRATED MERCHANTS. MEN WHOSE EPIC ADVENTURES HAVE BEEN PLAYED OUT TIME AND TIME AGAIN ON PAPER, FILM AND CANVAS, PAYING FITTING TRIBUTE TO THEIR ASPIRATIONS
AND ACHIEVEMENTS. YET THEIR ALREADY MAJESTIC HERITAGE IS HONOURED STILL FURTHER THROUGH THE SAVOIR-FAIRE OF HAUTE HORLOGERIE. WELCOME TO A WORLD WHERE SIMPLE TIMEKEEPING MAKES WAY FOR HIGH-PRECISION DIALS AND MESMERIZING SOPHISTICATION.
Every watchmaker has its own unique history, its own savoir-faire, its own precious archives its craftsmen can dip into for information or inspiration. We cast our eyes over a selection of timepieces all inextricably imbued with the legacy of the past …
In 218 BC, Hannibal headed off to conquer Rome, marching over the Alps with his army. This epic journey is portrayed in Ulysse Nardin’s “Répétition Minutes Hannibal”, played out on a genuine Alpine granite dial set above a Tourbillon mechanism and housed in a 43mm platinum case. The time can be seen or heard at will, with the 8 o’clock push-piece triggering a Westminster Carillon chime. As the hours chime in Sol, the minutes in Mi and the quarter hours in three different sequences, the Jaquemarts or mechanized figures, carved from white gold, spring to life and dance.
This Roger Dubuis creation boasts 12 7mm hand-carved rose gold knights in guise of hour markers, each one clutching an outstretched sword as though poised to take an oath. Celebrating the legend of King Arthur, the Excalibur Table Ronde timepiece, with its imposing 45mm rose gold case, extols the values of "valour and generosity” championed by XIIth century knights.
The Marco Polo watch from the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d'Art Tribute to Great Explorers collection whisks us off to the Orient in the Venetian merchant’s wake. The two-part gold dial is embellished with Grand Feu enamelwork, whose multi-layered colours have been meticulously fired and then carefully sanded down between each application. The map features a fine blood-red line tracing out the journey the iconic explorer made from Central Asia to the borders of China between 1271 and 1295.
In 1492 when Christopher Columbus was between two continents, he was convinced he was heading for Indian shores. But the many riches of the New World were what he was actually set to discover, a scene that is played out in micro-engravings and micro-paintings on the reverse side of the Hurricane Grand Voyage II watch. Visible from both sides, the gyroscopic Gravity Control module is inspired by the kind of gimbal suspension system used in marine chronometers to counter the ship’s movements, thereby optimizing the timepiece’s accuracy.
Another conquest, another Napoleonic victory. When a collection of imperial memorabilia was put up for auction in 2014, Jérôme De Witt, a direct descendant of the emperor’s youngest brother and founder of the eponymous Geneva-based watchmaking firm, acquired 2 lots containing strands of Napoleon’s hair. Micro-strands of that hair have since been sealed beneath the glass of several watch faces alongside an effigy of the emperor, protected by a special varnish.
These legendary men continue to garner admiration several centuries later. Now the time has come to show our admiration for the outstanding work accomplished by the master watchmakers, enamellers and engravers, celebrating the beauty of their art.
ROGER DUBUIS Excalibur Table Ronde VACHERON CONSTANTIN Marco Polo
ZENITH Christophe Colomb Hurricane Grand Voyage II
DEWITT Academia Grande Date ADN