Watch Report 2021
This second segment of a two-part report on this year’s new timepiece novelties puts the focus on popular signature collections, beloved house emblems and the revered technique of skeletonisation
We’re unabashed fans of the horological efforts at Hermès, not only for the ineffable air of style that the luxury Maison brings to just about everything it does, but also because almost all of its watches seem to hit the sweet spot in one way or another.
Premiered at Watches & Wonders, the new H08 line is an uncharacteristically masculine range of five “all-terrain” timepieces that come in unusual 39mm by 39mm cushion-shaped cases – a variation of the Cape Cod’s square-within-a-circle theme – made from titanium, black DLC titanium or ultra-light, robust graphene with ceramic. Par for the course is the exclusive idiosyncratic font of the applied numerals, which are placed in a broad chapter ring, accompanied by inner tracks showing hour and minutes intervals, and a date window located between 4 and 5 o’clock.
The automatic Calibre H1837, which is manufactured at Hermes’ associate Vaucher Fleurier and decorated with the signature “H” pattern, has a power reserve of 50 hours. The watch comes with a black or orange rubber strap or titanium bracelet, depending on the case material.
Fans of cult watches would be thrilled with Blancpain’s reinterpretation of one of its most emblematic watches, the Fifty Fathoms “no radiations”. The mid-1960s diving instrument featured the distinctive red, yellow and black logo, indicating that Blancpain was not using radium – a radioactive element used in watchmaking for its luminescent properties that was then declared harmful to health.
The Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad watch revisits the historical model with a 500-piece limited series. Aside from the unmistakable striking yellow and red logo at 6 o’clock, its chapter ring, hands and time scale on the bezel all feature “old radium”-coloured Super-luminova that reprises the beige-orange hue of vintage indicators.
Showcasing a graduation typical of early Fifty Fathoms models, the unidirectional rotating bezel is fitted with a sapphire insert, a distinctive feature of the contemporary collection. The steel case of the 300m water-resistant model measures 40.3mm, a diameter exclusive to limited-edition Fifty Fathoms models.
At its heart is the Blancpain Calibre 1151, a self-winding movement equipped with a silicon balance spring and endowed with a four-day power reserve. Its two barrels are wound by a rotor with a cartouche-shaped aperture, a nod to a few historic timepieces in the collection, including the very first Fifty Fathoms. The watch comes with a strap in Tropic-type rubber, a popular material with divers back in the day thanks to its durability and wearer comfort.
While Richard Mille has by no means abandoned its focus on high-tech materials and advanced construction techniques, it seems as if the brand is increasingly willing to flaunt its more artistic – and occasionally even playful – side.
Typical is this recently announced interpretation of the ladies’ RM 037, which aims for elegance in white ceramic with a matching rubber strap; it also features a white mother-of-pearl dial edged with a border of brilliant-cut diamonds that partially covers the open-worked movement.
The RM 037 White Ceramic Automatic curved tonneau-shaped case, which measures 52.63mm by 34.4mm by 13mm, is made from alumina toughened zirconia or ATZ, an exceptionally hard, shock and scratch-resistant ceramic created from aluminium-oxide power tubes subjected to immensely high pressure (a process that also results in a matte finish), as well as a white-gold middle section.
The skeletonised automatic CRMA1 calibre not only drives the hour and minute hands, but also an oversized date indicator at 12 o’clock. A white-gold pusher at 4 o’clock selects winding, neutral and hand-setting functions. The movement, which has a gold open-worked oscillating weight as its highlight, is visible through front and rear crystals, and provides a reserve of 50 hours fully wound.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
Conceived as symbols of joy and hope, fairies have long been a cherished tradition of the Maison, celebrated in creations evoking dreams and wonder.
Here, the enchanting theme is reinterpreted in the Lady Féerie timepiece, which features a fairy marking the passage of time with her magic wand by the moon’s gentle light. A new addition to the Féerie collection, the poetic creation is an artful fusion of watchmaking skills and traditional craftsmanship housed in a delicately proportioned 33mm white gold case with a diamond-set bezel.
Dressed in a sapphire and diamond gown, the fairy’s face, depicted by a diamond, forms a dazzling contrast against graduating blue tones of the sky in guilloché mother-of-pearl. The same hues adorn her translucent wings, crafted from a combination of plique-à-jour and grisaille enamel. Employed by the house for the first time on a single motif, the two techniques create an interplay of shades and effects of depth on the enamelled wings, which are adorned with intricately set diamonds.
Seated on a cloud of white mother-of-pearl, the graceful figure points out the minutes with her wand, while the moon harbours the passing hours in a nacre window. The celestial theme continues on the back of the watch, where the visible oscillating weight is engraved with a full moon in a starry sky.
A numbered piece, the Lady Féerie watch is fitted with a self-winding mechanical movement boasting a power reserve of 36 hours, with a retrograde minute display and jumping hours. Its case is embellished with a rounded sapphire glass to maximise the light that enters and lends a refined finishing touch to the watch’s silhouette.
A flagrant disregard for convention – consistently demonstrating a penchant for impertinence and extravagance – has always been the backbone of Roger Dubuis’ bold attitude. Indeed, with the launch of the new Excalibur Single Flying Tourbillon, the maison once again stays true to its mantra: “No rules, our game”.
The Poinçon de Genève-certified tourbillon timepiece has been reinterpreted with sophistication and flair, using modern and technical materials. The updated design showcases clean lines on both case and movement. Creating the impression of a thinner look and feel, while heightening the sense of transparency and depth, it has been rebuilt from bottom to top in an architectural feat that sees the Roger Dubuis star now levitate freely above the barrel.
Now with a lower tourbillon cage in titanium – twice lighter than stainless steel – and a mirror-polished Cobalt Chrome upper tourbillon cage, the weight of the piece is reduced to optimum effect, all of which allows the power reserve to be radically optimised to 72 hours.
Available in a 42mm case in grey DLC Titanium, Cobalt Chrome or in the new EON Gold (a more stable pink gold tone that solves the problem of discolouration over time, often caused by the addition of copper), this masterpiece is limited to 88 pieces per case material.
Finding kinship with those disruptive souls who dare to make a difference, the brand is partnering with the Urban Art Tribe, tattoo artist Dr. Woo and graffiti artist Gully, who reflect the same rule-breaking values – showcasing their radical expertise in their obsession over the design of the future.
Since its launch, Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas collection has displayed inspired design, technical innovation and a capacity for constant renewal. Its two latest iterations – the Overseas Ultra-thin Perpetual Calendar and Overseas Ultra-thin Perpetual Calendar Skeleton – come in a new 41.5mm white gold case.
Part of the Maison’s theme for 2021, entitled ‘Classic with a Twist’, they embody an art of diversity reflected in the three interchangeable bracelets and straps (in white gold, blue alligator leather and blue rubber) delivered with each watch. While one model features the extremely complex horological art of skeleton working, the other is adorned with a deep blue dial. The result is two very different types of aesthetic appeal for supremely stylish and elegant timepieces.
Additionally, the perpetual calendars these two watches are equipped to cope smoothly with calendar irregularities and will require no correction until 2100. It’s no wonder, then, that the Maison is greatly appreciated by collectors for technical qualities and performance
The prestigious Calibre 1120 QP SQ/1 powering the skeleton version appears through a sapphire dial on which the white gold hour-markers are applied. The transparent caseback fitted on both versions also ensures a spectacular view of the sophisticated movement, the exceptional finishing work and the oscillating weight.
The slender, self-winding mechanical 276-component movement is barely 4.05 mm thick and endowed with a 40-hour power reserve. Achieving such performance with an ultra-thin movement called for authentic prowess in terms of both construction and miniaturisation.