Here are this year’s sig­nif­i­cant an­niver­saries in the watch in­dus­try and limited-edi­tion watches to mark the oc­ca­sions

Singapore Tatler Jewels & Time - - News - Text Jamie Tan

Horol­ogy's sig­nif­i­cant an­niver­saries

Ur­w­erk is 20 If the men­tion of Ur­w­erk still con­jures up the idea of an in­de­pen­dent up­start, it may be time for a re­cal­i­bra­tion. Be­lieve it or not, it’s been two decades since the brand first burst onto the scene with the UR-101 and Ur-102—it re­mains in­de­pen­dent but it’s def­i­nitely come into its own. Ur­w­erk’s var­i­ous in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the wan­der­ing hour (which it dubs the satel­lite com­pli­ca­tion) re­mains cen­tral to the brand but it has ex­panded its of­fer­ings in many ar­eas. In 2015, for in­stance, the brand of­fered its first watch tar­geted at ladies with the UR-106 Lo­tus, a ul­tra-fem­i­nine watch topped off with a moon­phase in­di­ca­tor.

Ur­w­erk is mark­ing its 20th an­niver­sary with the UR-T8, a hulk­ing beast over 60mm long and 48mm wide. The brand calls the UR-T8 its “first trans­formable watch”, given its Rev­erso-es­que abil­ity of flip­ping over to present its case back to os­ten­si­bly pro­tect its crys­tal and dial. The watch’s abil­ity to morph into a shield-like bracelet makes for an in­ter­est­ing case (pun not in­tended) that shows a vari­a­tion of the tex­tured sur­face first seen in the UR-105 T-rex.

Longines cel­e­brates 185 years of watch­mak­ing A watch­maker with Longines’s his­tory will in­evitably have some sig­nif­i­cant an­niver­saries co­in­cide with each other. In­deed, 2017 marks the 60th an­niver­sary of the brand’s Flag­ship col­lec­tion, as well as the 90th an­niver­sary of the Lind­bergh Hour An­gle Watch that ac­com­pa­nied Charles Lind­bergh on the first ever non­stop solo transat­lantic flight. This year also hap­pens to be the 185th year of the brand’s found­ing.

To mark its an­niver­sary, Longines has looked through its archives and com­piled a list of anec­dotes from through­out its his­tory on the brand’s mi­crosite. A snip­pet de­tail­ing one sig­nif­i­cant event is re­vealed ev­ery day. Th­ese sto­ries cover ev­ery­thing from cor­po­rate mat­ters to in­di­vid­ual tri­umph. Clearly, Longines isn’t just an old watch­maker, but one that has wit­nessed many sig­nif­i­cant events in hu­man his­tory. It’s un­likely that it will finish the year off without ma­jor cel­e­bra­tions for its an­niver­sary. Un­til more de­tails emerge, th­ese daily tit­bits will have to do.

The Patek Philippe Aqua­naut hits 20 Patek Philippe marked the Aqua­naut’s 20th birthday with two watches. The first is the Aqua­naut Ref 5168G, which bears sev­eral firsts for the col­lec­tion. It’s the first white gold mem­ber of the col­lec­tion. At 42mm, this is also the largest Aqua­naut to date, al­beit with pro­por­tions that re­main true to the line. Fi­nally, its dial fea­tures a new grad­u­ated shade of blue that dark­ens to­wards black at the edges. The Aqua­naut Travel Time Ref. 5650G “Patek Philippe Ad­vanced Re­search” (left) also cel­e­brates the line’s 20 years. Like its Ad­vanced Re­search pre­de­ces­sors, this watch in­tro­duces Patek’s newly de­vel­oped in­no­va­tions, one of which is the time-zone set­ting de­vice based on flex­i­ble mech­a­nisms—it doesn’t just re­duce the num­ber of parts but also elim­i­nates fac­tors like fric­tion and me­chan­i­cal play for greater re­li­a­bil­ity. This de­vel­op­ment is promi­nently dis­played through the dial cut-out. Sec­ondly, the Spiro­max bal­ance spring—a sil­i­con hair­spring with a new geom­e­try that al­lows the move­ment to be ad­justed to an as­ton­ish­ing -1/+2 sec­onds of ac­cu­racy.

Half a cen­tury of the Rolex Sea-dweller The Sea-dweller in­tro­duced in 1967 turns 50 this year and Rolex has re­leased the lat­est it­er­a­tion of the watch to co­in­cide with this an­niver­sary. The orig­i­nal SeaDweller is per­haps best re­mem­bered for in­tro­duc­ing the he­lium es­cape valve that Rolex had de­vel­oped and patented. Be­fore this, divers un­der­go­ing sat­u­ra­tion div­ing—a rel­a­tively new and ad­vanced technique at that time—would some­times see their watches’ crys­tals pop right out of their cases dur­ing de­com­pres­sion. The he­lium es­cape valve solved this prob­lem by al­low­ing the watch to “de­com­press” safely without com­pro­mis­ing its wa­ter­proof­ness. The rest, as they say, is his­tory.

The new Sea-dweller re­tains the iconic de­sign of the orig­i­nal but sports sev­eral changes. For a start, its case has been sig­nif­i­cantly up­sized from 40mm to 43mm. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing this change are sub­tle tweaks to the watch’s pro­por­tions—the bezel, bracelet, and clasp have all been beefed up. The Cy­clops lens, pre­vi­ously limited to just the Sub­mariner within Rolex’s dive watch line-up, has also been fit­ted onto the new Sea-dweller for the first time. Fi­nally, the new cal­i­bre 3235 first in­tro­duced in 2016 has been fit­ted in the watch, mak­ing this its first ap­pear­ance in a Rolex Pro­fes­sional model.

The Cen­te­nary of Cartier’s Tank First in­tro­duced in 1917, the Cartier Tank was so named be­cause its de­sign evoked the top view of a tank—a bat­tle­field nov­elty barely a few years old then. The de­sign codes that de­fined this watch were es­tab­lished from the get-go. Note the par­al­lel bars that de­fine the flanks of the case and dou­ble as its lugs, which re­sem­ble a tank’s treads, and the beaded/faceted crown set with a sap­phire cabo­chon. Mean­while, the dial’s sig­na­tures are its Ro­man nu­meral in­dexes, as well as the rec­tan­gu­lar railway track chap­ter ring.

So, it was al­ready widely known that 2017 is the cen­ten­nial an­niver­sary of the Tank. Sur­pris­ingly, the man­u­fac­ture made no men­tion at SIHH this Jan­uary. As it turned out, Cartier had long planned for the Tank to have its own party, free from any other dis­trac­tions that may di­lute the sig­nif­i­cance of the oc­ca­sion. To cel­e­brate the mile­stone, Cartier un­veils nov­el­ties for four of th­ese lines with the Tank Cin­trée Skele­ton (left) watch as the flag­ship. The time­piece is longer and nar­rower than usual, and comes curved to fit the wrist bet­ter. The lit­tle sur­prise here lies in the skele­tonised move­ment: it is curved like the case, and shows off a lit­tle watch­mak­ing savoir faire by Cartier.

Omega’s trin­ity turns 60 Within Omega’s an­nals, 1957 stands out es­pe­cially for be­ing the year the brand in­tro­duced three im­por­tant time­pieces: The Sea­mas­ter, Speed­mas­ter (above), and Rail­mas­ter. Each a pur­pose-built tool watch de­signed for a spe­cific ap­pli­ca­tion, the three mod­els have taken some­what di­ver­gent paths over the last six decades in terms of their de­vel­op­ment and pop­u­lar­ity. Omega brings them back to­gether this year by re­leas­ing a trio of limited-edi­tion re­makes of the orig­i­nals— the 1957 Tril­ogy Limited Edi­tion.

To en­sure that the new watches are faith­ful recre­ations of the orig­i­nals, Omega used dig­i­tal scan­ning tech­nol­ogy to digi­tise their di­men­sions be­fore mod­ernising the watches’ de­signs. The “aged” Su­per-lu­mi­nova used on the di­als and hands, for ex­am­ple, re­places the orig­i­nals’ ra­dium paint. Omega’s at­ten­tion to de­tail is ad­mirable here; note how the brand logo varies among the three watches, in a nod to the vari­a­tions pro­duced by dif­fer­ent dial sup­pli­ers in the past. Six decades of Pi­aget’s Alti­plano One of Pi­aget’s call­ing cards is its ex­per­tise in cre­at­ing ul­tra-thin dress watches. Th­ese diminu­tive and seem­ingly sim­ple time­pieces de­mand rigour in move­ment de­sign and pro­duc­tion, since the lack of space re­quires minia­tur­i­sa­tion and tighter tol­er­ances for ev­ery com­po­nent. The ul­tra-thin Pi­aget Alti­plano turns 60 this year with the mar­que com­mem­o­rat­ing the an­niver­sary with sev­eral watches.

Need­less to say, the an­niver­sary mod­els—es­sen­tially all the Alti­plano watches this year—draw their de­sign in­spi­ra­tion from the orig­i­nals. Among them are two rep­re­sen­ta­tive mod­els, both in blue, which stand out for the crosshair de­sign printed on their di­als just like the orig­i­nal. The larger model houses the self-wind­ing 1200P move­ment and is sized at 43mm, while the smaller 38mm model uses the man­ual-wound 430P cal­i­bre.

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