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Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Six Enamelling Techniques used for luxury watch making, from Patek Philippe to Cartier, Hermès and more

Enamelling at Swiss watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne

Enamelling at Swiss watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne

Enamelling is a tedious process, to put it mildly. The raw material must first be ground into a fine powder, then mixed with a suitable medium (oils or water are both used) to form a paint-like emulsion. This liquid is then applied like paint, before being fired in a kiln to vitrify it the medium evaporates, while the powder melts and fuses into glass. There are variations to these steps, of course. Some manufactures, for example, choose to sieve the power directly onto a base of either brass or gold, and fire this “layer” of powder directly. Whatever the process, every step is fraught with danger. The product may crack during the firing process. Unseen impurities may surface as imperfections. Colours may react in unexpected ways. There are numerous risks to endure. Why, then, does this technique continue to be used in watchmaking?

Despite all its drawbacks, enamel still has a depth and nuance that cannot be replicated anywhere else. It is also permanent vitrified enamel is essentially inert and, like noble metals, remains unchanged even a century from now. Different enamelling techniques are capable of creating a wide spectrum of products as well, from a single large surface free of blemishes, to microscopic levels of detail as part of a painting. Perhaps the romantic aspect of this metiers d’art also accounts for part of its appeal; the time and touch of the enamellist is the perfect counterpoint to the watchmaker, with art on one side and science on the other.

Variations on a Theme

Enamels are fired at various temperatures or not at all depending on their types. Grand feu (literally “great fire”) enamel is fired at around 820 degrees Celsius, although intermediate firings to “set” it may be at around 100 degrees Celsius, to boil the solvent off without fusing the powder. Enamels in general, including those used in miniature painting, may also be fired at around 100 degrees Celsius instead. Finally, there is cold enamel, an epoxy resin that cures and hardens at room temperature.

There are no hard and fast rules to the craft; every enamellist has his/her own materials and approach

There are no hard and fast rules to the craft; every enamellist has his/her own materials and approach

What difference does it make? For a start, higher temperatures are definitely more difficult to work with, since the enamel may crack during firing, or the subsequent cooling down process. The spectrum of colours used in grand feu enamelling is also more limited, as there are fewer compounds that can withstand the temperature. The choice of technique boils down to the desired product for all its drawbacks, grand feu enamel has an inimitable look.

Seiko’s Presage SRQ019 chronograph with white enamel dial

Seiko’s Presage SRQ019 chronograph with white enamel dial

Enamels, porcelains, and lacquers all share common properties of hardness, durability, and the ability to take on both matte and polished finishes. The three aren’t interchangeable though. Lacquer is an organic finish that is applied in layers, with each successive coat curing at room temperature before the next is added. Porcelain is a ceramic that is produced by firing materials in a kiln to vitrify them. Although enamel is also fired, it only contains glass and colouring compounds and lacks porcelain’s clay content.

Raised Fields

In champlevé enamelling, a thick dial base is engraved to create hollow cells, before these cavities are filled with enamel and fired. Because the engraving step produces rough surfaces at the bottom of each cell, the champlevé technique typically uses only opaque enamels. The method allows areas on the dial to be selectively excavated, and for enamels to be mixed freely within each dial. This is done to great effect in Piaget’s Emperador Coussin XL Large Moon Enamel watch, where the gold dial is largely untouched for the “continents”, while the “oceans” are created in champlevé enamel, with differing shades of blue to convey their varying depths.

An excavated cell in Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Goat being filled with enamel using the champlevé technique

An excavated cell in Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Goat being filled with enamel using the champlevé technique

Champlevé enamelling’s use isn’t limited to creating decorative art. In Parmigiani Fleurier’s Tecnica Ombre Blanche, for instance, it was simply the most appropriate technique. Although the timepiece has a simple white enamel dial, its surface is interrupted by three sub-dials and an aperture for the tourbillon. Using champlevé enamelling here allowed each dial element to have a clearly defined border without adding unnecessary thickness. A possible alternative would be to make a complete enamel dial, before cutting out the appropriate sections in the middle. One can, however, imagine the risks of doing that.

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6002 combines champlevé and cloisonné enamelling

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6002 combines champlevé and cloisonné enamelling

Is there a limit to the level of details that can be achieved with champlevé enamel? Patek Philippe may have the answer with the Ref. 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon. Apart from the centre portion, which is produced using the cloisonné technique (discussed later), its dial is a work of champlevé enamel even the railway track chapter ring was milled out in relief, before the recesses are filled with enamel and fired.

Engraving isn’t necessarily the only way to produce the cells used in champlevé enamel though. Hublot puts a modern twist on things with the Classic Fusion Enamel Britto, by stamping the white gold dial base to create the raised borders between the cells. This not only reduces the time needed for each dial but also ensures uniformity between them. Subsequent steps, however, remain unchanged the cells were sequentially filled with different colours of enamel and fired multiple times before the entire dial surface is polished to form a uniformly smooth surface.

Wire Work

Cloisonné enamelling is almost like the opposite of the champlevé technique instead of removing material from a dial blank, things are added on it instead. The “cloisons” (literally “partitions”) here refer to the wires, each no thicker than a human hair, that the enamellist bends into shape and attaches onto a base to create enclosed cells. These cells are then filled with enamel of different colours before the dial is fired to fuse the powder. The wires remain visible in the final product, and look like outlines of a drawing, with a metallic sheen that contrasts with the glassy surfaces of the enamel.

Wires are shaped and attached to a dial to form cells, before enamel is painted in

Wires are shaped and attached to a dial to form cells, before enamel is painted in

Plique-à-jour (“letting in daylight”) enamel can be considered a variation of cloisonné enamel, but the technique is a lot rarer owing to its complexity and fragility. Like its cloisonné sibling, plique-à-jour enamelling involves creating enclosed cells using wires, before filling them with enamel. In this case, however, there is no base. The lack of a backing can be achieved in various ways, but usually involves working on a base layer à la cloisonné enamelling, before filing it away to leave just the wires holding onto vitrified enamel. Since there is no base, plique-à-jour enamelling almost always involves transparent or translucent enamel that allows light through, which essentially creates tiny stained glass windows.

A dial in cloisonné enamel is in the making

A dial in cloisonné enamel is in the making

Van Cleef & Arpels has used the above technique to great effect. In the Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Fée Ondine watch, a 24-hour module rotates a graduated lower dial once a day to mimic Earth’s diurnal rhythm, while an upper dial with elements executed in plique-à-jour enamel forms the foreground. The watch thus creates an ever-changing scene that mimics the rising and setting of the sun and moon, with the appropriate shades of blue for the sky and water, depending on the time of the day.

Hybrid Theory

There are several “hybrid” techniques that combine enamelling with other decorative arts, and flinqué enamelling is arguably the best known given its long history of use. The technique combines guillochage with enamelling a brass or gold dial is first decorated with guilloché, before layers of enamel are successively applied and fired. When this enamel coating is sufficiently thick, it is polished to create a smooth surface; the final result is a translucent lens through which the guilloché is admired. Depending on the desired effect, the enamel used may be colourless to impart a subtle sheen, or coloured for more visual oomph, like the trio of limited edition Rotonde de Cartier high complications unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2015. Vacheron Constantin has even adapted the technique by using guilloché patterns to mimic woven fabrics in the Métiers d’Art Elégance Sartoriale.

Enamel being applied to the engraved white gold base on the Hermès Arceau Tigre

Enamel being applied to the engraved white gold base on the Hermès Arceau Tigre

Developed by the husband-and-wife team of Olivier and Dominique Vaucher, shaded enamel (email ombrant) also involves the application of translucent enamel over an engraved dial. Instead of a regular pattern à la guilloché, however, shaded enamel entails the creation of an image in relief. In the Hermès Arceau Tigre, the likeness of the animal is first carved into a white gold base, before translucent black enamel is applied and fired. A thicker layer of enamel accumulates in areas where the engraving is deeper and appears darker as a result the shading corresponds to the depth of the enamel, which creates an extremely lifelike product.

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif

The final technique here is Cartier’s enamel granulation, which combines enamelling with Etruscan granulation originally used by goldsmiths. The craft requires multiple steps and is extremely tedious, to say the least. Enamel is first worked into threads of different diameters before these threads are chipped off bit by bit to form beads of various sizes. The beads are then sorted by colour and applied to the dial successively to assemble an image, with intermediate firings to set and fuse the enamel. As different colours of enamel fuse at different temperatures, there is a clearly defined order for the assembly process; up to 30 firings are necessary, and each dial requires nearly a month to complete. Like shaded enamel, enamel granulation is a very recent development, and Cartier has only used it on one watch so far: the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif.

Metallic Content

Paillonné is among the rarest enamelling techniques today and practically synonymous with Jaquet Droz, which has maintained its expertise in this area. The manufacture currently has two full-time enamellists who don’t just produce enamel dials but also train artisans to perpetuate this know-how.

A paillon being applied to the coloured enamel “base”

A paillon being applied to the coloured enamel “base”

The “paillon” here refers to the small ornamental motifs that are created from gold leaf, and are the calling card of the technique. Essentially, paillonné enamelling involves setting paillons within enamel to form patterns, with regular geometric ones being the norm. To do so, a layer of coloured enamel is first fired to set it. Upon this layer, the paillons are positioned, before translucent enamel is applied and fired, thus “locking” the paillons in. Additional steps can be taken to create even more intricate designs. Before the coloured enamel layer is applied, for instance, the substrate surface may first be decorated with guilloché, which basically creates flinqué enamel that is then decorated with paillons over it. According to Jaquet Droz’s CEO Christian Lattmann, the textured base doesn’t just offer visual benefits but also helps the initial layer of coloured enamel to “stick” better. Lattmann also revealed that the choice of white or red gold as this base will impart a different tone to the finished product as well both because of its inherent colour and because of how the guillochage plays with light.

A watch from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, with applied precious metal powders on the enamelled surface

A watch from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, with applied precious metal powders on the enamelled surface

In lieu of regular patterns, Jaeger-LeCoultre opted for a twist on the technique, by distributing flecks of silver randomly on the dial instead. The result can be seen in the Hybris Artistica Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Enamel, whose enamel dial mimics the look of lapis lazuli. This technique was also used for the second dial of the Reverso One Duetto Moon.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon

While not paillonné enamelling per se, Vacheron Constantin’s use of hand applied precious powder deserves a mention here. In the manufacture’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières timepieces, gold, platinum, diamond, and pearl powders are affixed to the surface of the enamel dial by Japanese enamel artisan Yoko Imai. Instead of being covered with a layer of enamel, these particles sit atop them, and catch the light variously to mimic a bird’s eye view of a city at night.

Brush Strokes

Enamel painting is simply painting with enamel pigments rather than some other medium. The technique is challenging not just due to the canvas’s size, which makes it miniature painting as well, but also because of the multiple firings needed to vitrify and set the enamels, colour by colour. Given the level of detail that can be achieved, however, this is one of the few techniques that are capable of making their subjects almost lifelike. Consider Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère, which has the eponymous animal rendered in this technique, for example. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso à Eclipse also showcases what enamel painting is capable of with its uncanny facsimile of Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait as a Painter on its dial.

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère being painted. Image © Pierre-William Henry

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère being painted. Image © Pierre-William Henry

Grisaille enamel can be considered a subset of enamel painting, and is a specific method of painting white on black to create monochromic imagery. The black canvas is grand feu enamel that must first be applied, fired, and then polished to create a perfectly smooth surface that’s free of imperfections. This preparatory step is, in and of itself, already very challenging, as minute flaws are extremely easy to spot on such a surface this explains why most watch brands offer white enamel dials, but black onyx or lacquer dials instead of enamel. Upon this black canvas, the enamellist paints using Blanc de Limoges, which is a white enamel whose powder is more finely ground than normal. To create micro details, fine brushes, needles, and even cactus thorns are used, and the dial is painted and fired multiple times to create the nuanced paintings grisaille enamel is known for.

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Owing to its complexity, grisaille enamel is rarely seen. There are brands that still offer metiers d’art watches with them though, sometimes with their own take on the technique. In its Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse collection, Vacheron Constantin opted to use translucent brown enamel for the dial base to impart a greater sense of depth, while softening the contrast between the two colours. Van Cleef & Arpels used a midnight blue base in its Midnight Nuit Boréale and Nuit Australe timepieces instead, to evoke the night sky.

This article was originally published in WOW.

Gold blends in luxury watchmaking: 5 Gold blends in timepieces from Omega, Hublot and Chanel

Sedna gold is used with steel, here in the Seamaster Planet Ocean 45.5mm Chronograph

Sedna gold is used with steel, here in the Seamaster Planet Ocean 45.5mm Chronograph

There isn’t any status symbol that’s quite as ubiquitous as gold, and its universal appeal is easy to understand. The metal’s rarity is reason for its value, while its physical properties explain its allure gold’s density gives it heft, which implies weight and importance, while its inert nature is often associated with ideals of being constant and unchanging. That final property also means humans won’t be allergic to it, unlike silver, for example.

Still, gold isn’t without its limitations, chief among which is its softness that precludes pure gold from use in both jewellery and timepieces. By mixing gold with other metals to create alloys, however, hardness and other desirable properties can be attained. Yet this isn’t without cost literally. Alloys have lower gold content and thus less value, making them less precious unless the other metals in the mix are even more precious, like platinum. The question, then, is the purity of gold to be used in the context of watchmaking.

The watchmaking industry has settled on 18-karat (where gold accounts for 75 per cent of an alloy’s mass) as the de facto fineness for gold alloys used in timepieces. This standard is a good balance between maintaining the value of the alloy (due to its gold content), and the hardness and colours that can be achieved. Three main shades of gold are used in watches. Yellow gold is the most traditional, and retains the colour of pure gold. White gold contains nickel, palladium, or another white metal, and is usually rhodium plated for a brilliant shine. Rose gold, on the other hand, skews towards red thanks to the inclusion of copper.

Several manufactures have, in the past decade, introduced proprietary blends of gold in order to attain properties that aren’t present in the three typical alloys described above, and/or to differentiate their products. Clearly, there is still much room for development advancements are still being made as recently as 2016, when a titanium-gold alloy with four times the hardness of titanium was developed.

 Rods of Everose gold, which will be shaped into plates, tubes, bars, and wires, then machined into case components

Rods of Everose gold, which will be shaped into plates, tubes, bars, and wires, then machined into case components

Everose Gold

A manufacture that produces timepieces on the scale that Rolex does has the freedom and capability of deviating from the norm, to put it mildly. Rolex does exactly that when it comes to metallurgy. For a start, it uses 904L steel that has higher nickel and chromium content, which makes it more corrosion resistant and capable of attaining a brighter polish, albeit at the cost of greater difficulty in machining. This drawback is hardly cause for concern though, since Rolex produces its own cases anyway, and has acquired the necessary expertise and equipment to work 904L steel. A parallel exists in the development and production of gold alloys. Rolex’s in-house R&D department and gold foundry has allowed it to create its own blend of pink gold: Everose gold.

Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40 with Everose Rolesor case and bracelet

Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40 with Everose Rolesor case and bracelet

According to Rolex, the drawback for regular formulations of pink/rose/red gold is reportedly a certain tendency to fade. To be fair, this is possible, but not necessarily probable a myriad of factors are at play here, from the age of the watch to the conditions it was subjected to. Peruse an auction catalogue featuring old timepieces, however, and it is apparent that some rose gold watches can and do lose their reddish touch to end up looking more like yellow gold. Rolex developed Everose gold to prevent such an eventuality. The alloy is produced in Rolex’s own foundry from pure 24K gold, based on the manufacture’s specific recipe. Everose gold’s exact composition is a closely guarded trade secret, but it is known to contain trace amounts of platinum, ostensibly to lock in its colour.

Rolex introduced Everose gold in 2005, and uses it exclusively in lieu of regular pink gold. In the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller, for instance, this extends from the timepiece’s case to its crown, bezel, and even bracelet. Bimetallic references of Rolex watches that contain pink gold also use Everose gold, in a blend of gold and steel the manufacture dubs Rolesor.

 Magic Gold is produced in-house within Hublot’s laboratory, which has its own foundry for processing pure gold

Magic Gold is produced in-house within Hublot’s laboratory, which has its own foundry for processing pure gold

Magic Gold

There are actually two gold blends that are unique to Hublot. King Gold has a higher-than-normal percentage of copper to make it even redder than conventional red gold and, like Rolex’s Everose Gold, contains platinum that helps it to retain its hue. What’s arguably far more impressive is Magic Gold, which has an astonishing hardness of 1,000 Vickers that Hublot claims makes it the world’s first scratchproof gold alloy.

Calling Magic Gold an “alloy” is a slight misnomer. Although it stands at 18-carat purity like all the other gold alloys discussed here, Magic Gold isn’t actually a mixture of metals (and non-metals) that are melted and blended together in a foundry. Instead, the process of creating Magic Gold begins with boron carbide, a ceramic that is the third hardest substance currently known. Boron carbide powder is first compacted into a desired shape, before being sintered to form a porous solid. Pure molten gold is then forced into these pores under 200 bars of pressure, like saturating a sponge with water, before the combined chunk of material is cooled down. Voila! The resultant mass is Magic Gold: an incredibly hard ceramic matrix that’s literally filled with gold.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Gold

Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Gold

Magic Gold was only introduced in 2012, and despite being successfully commercialised, remains a very challenging material for Hublot to work with. To machine Magic Gold, CNC machines equipped with ultrasonic cutters and diamond tipped tools had to be specially ordered from Germany. Milling and shaping Magic Gold components remains difficult even with such equipment just 28 bezels in this material requires around three weeks to machine. As such, production of Magic Gold parts remains limited for now, with an estimated 30 to 40 complete cases produced every month. As Hublot continues to refine its industrial processes and production efficiency with this material, however, its output is expected to scale up accordingly.

Globemaster in Sedna gold

Globemaster in Sedna gold

Sedna Gold

Omega has been making waves with its anti-magnetic movements and its involvement in developing the METAS certification, and rightly deserves attention for these efforts. The brand’s work in advancing material engineering, however, also warrants a closer look. It has, for instance, developed a process to inlay LiquidMetal, a zirconium-based amorphous alloy, into ceramic bezels using a combination of high pressure and heat. The result is the seamless melding of two contrasting materials that yield a perfectly smooth surface. Omega has also made inroads into its mastery over gold. Case in point: Ceragold, which was first introduced in 2012. Instead of LiquidMetal, 18-carat gold is combined with ceramic to form Ceragold, using a slightly different process to yield an equally high contrast bezel that is also smooth to the touch. To create Ceragold, the bare ceramic bezel is first engraved with markings, before being completely PVD-coated with a conductive metallic substrate. This interim product is then electroplated with 18-carat gold, before being polished to reveal the original ceramic surface and markings that remain filled in with gold.

Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Master Chronometer in Sedna gold, with Ceragold bezel

Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Master Chronometer in Sedna gold, with Ceragold bezel

A year after Ceragold’s release, Omega introduced Sedna gold. Named after the red-coloured minor planet, which is currently the furthest observed object in the solar system, this 18-carat alloy is a proprietary blend of gold, copper, and palladium. Like other rose gold alloys, Sedna gold owes its unique colour to its copper content. Palladium, on the other hand, functions here like platinum in other gold blends it prevents the copper content in the alloy from oxidising, thus maintaining Sedna gold’s colour. This alloy has been used in various collections, including the De Ville Trésor, Constellation, and Seamaster, and appears to have superseded the orange gold blend that Omega previously used.

Lange 1 Time Zone in honey gold

Lange 1 Time Zone in honey gold

Honey Gold

A. Lange & Söhne debuted honey gold in 2010 when it presented the “Homage to F.A. Lange” collection, which consisted of three limited edition timepieces cased in the precious material. The manufacture has been extremely selective with its usage of the alloy; it took a full five years for honey gold to make its return, this time at Watches & Wonders 2015 where the 1815 “200th Anniversary F. A. Lange” was presented as a 200-piece limited edition. Only two other watches were issued in the material subsequently, and in even smaller runs: the Lange 1 and Lange 1 Time Zone in honey gold totalled just 20 and 100 pieces respectively.

Aesthetically, honey gold’s hue falls between its pink and yellow siblings, with a noticeably lower saturation it is paler, yet redder than yellow gold, and has a marked resemblance to honey. The alloy’s colour stems from its higher proportion of copper vis-à-vis regular yellow gold, and the addition of zinc, but it retains 18-carat purity. Honey gold wasn’t actually developed for A. Lange & Söhne with appearance as the primary objective though. Instead, the manufacture was concerned with creating a more scratch-resistant case. With a hardness of 320 Vickers, honey gold has around twice the hardness of regular 18-carat yellow gold, which measures between 150 to 160 Vickers. The result? A hardier watch case that’s less prone to dings and scratches.

1815 “200th Anniversary F. A. Lange”

1815 “200th Anniversary F. A. Lange”

Despite its greater hardness, honey gold isn’t necessarily more difficult to work. Any equipment that is primed to machine steel cases, which are even harder, is more than capable of handling honey gold. When used in movement components, however, the material does present challenges for the finisseurs at A. Lange & Söhne. The “Homage to F.A. Lange” collection’s timepieces, for instance, have movements with balance cocks rendered in honey gold instead of German silver. Hand-engraving them with the manufacture’s signature floral motif is thus more difficult and time consuming, while also requiring a special set of burins with harder blades.

Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel Le Séducteur with its case and dial elements in beige gold

Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel Le Séducteur with its case and dial elements in beige gold

Beige Gold

When it comes to colours, Coco Chanel’s closest association will always be with black. After all, she was the person responsible for adding the little black dress to fashion’s lexicon. Beige was also a staple in her palette though, and like how her love for Coromandel screens continues to inform the designs of some Chanel products today, the couturière’s penchant for beige remains an inspiration for the house she built.

For Chanel, the logical extension to having fabrics and leathers in beige is a gold blend in that very hue. The alloy is a nod to Coco, who professed to “go[ing] back to beige because it’s natural”. Indeed, beige gold does conjure up images of sand, or lightly sun-kissed skin. Unique to the maison, it is an 18-carat blend that falls between yellow and pink gold in colour, while appearing significantly more muted than either. Subtlety is the name of the game here the alloy harmonises with some skin tones instead of popping out in contrast against it, and matches with a wide range of colours and textures regardless of one’s sartorial choices.

Monsieur de Chanel in beige gold

Monsieur de Chanel in beige gold

Instead of introducing beige gold in its more established jewellery line, Chanel chose to feature it in its timepieces first. The material was unveiled at BaselWorld 2014 in the J12-365 collection, where it was placed front and centre in the form of beige gold bezels sitting atop polished ceramic cases. Other women’s collections followed the next year, with line extensions for the Première, Mademoiselle Privé, and Boy.Friend all sporting full beige gold cases.

Of course, the material was never meant to be exclusive to women’s watches. In 2016, beige gold crossed over to Chanel’s jewellery division in Coco Crush rings, and further proved its versatility by appearing in a men’s timepiece: the Monsieur de Chanel.

Unique watches that break the rules: 7 amazing luxury timepieces from Cartier to Patek Philippe with unconventional designs

Watchmaking is unmistakably about craftsmanship. Some commentators insist that watchmaking is very much like art and this might be true but only if one considers it an industrialized and cooperative art, like filmmaking. Nevertheless, the imaginations of luxury watchmakers have birthed timepieces that are out of this world, effectively making them larger than life. This spread takes that idea and brings it to life, paying tribute to the efforts of the watchmakers. Combining both technical elegance and grit, these seven watches challenge the boundaries of watchmaking, if there are any.

HYT H3

Known for their state of the art luxury fluidic watches, the HYT H3 defies the generalisation of traditional watches. Incorporating a linear design as the series’ trademark, the H3 is a step away from the usual circular face in previous ‘H’ watches.  A capillary is located above a horizontal layer of 6 cubes –which contain each quarter of the day- that operates on a jump hour. Clockwork: the red retrograde minute hand snaps back from 60 to 00 after every hour. When it’s the last hour of the quarter the green liquid retracts back to the first cube signaling a new part of the day. The movement is powered by the energy created a pair of bellows as well as a vacuum in the fluid system. Shockingly unique and mesmerizing, the H3 unlocks a whole new world to watch design and engineering.

Patek Philippe Grand Complications Ref. 6300G-001 Grandmaster Chime

A more classic take on its cousin, the blockbuster Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175, legendary watchmaker Patek Philippe has unveiled a new reference of its 175th-anniversary giant. The 6300G-001 is a double-faced reversible wristwatch that includes the original 20 head spinning complications. Its two faces showcase the sonnerie and time, the other a full perpetual calendar. The 6300G-001is the most complicated wristwatch of all time but not by the mere number of complications. Obviously there are mechanical wonders with more complications but none has dared to take the pinnacle of timekeeping – the grand sonnerie – to even greater heights by sounding out the date too. As of 2017, no other watch has even come close.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire

Bell & Ross has long been a brand fascinated with vintage aviation design. This admiration has been captured and reimagined in multiple forms through its BR series. With the BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire, this dedication is encased in a 45mm case cut out from nine blocks of sapphire, adding a degree of technical complexity that one can feel as well as see – and see through. This renders the watch fully transparent, providing a window to view all of its intricacies. The case is paired with a translucent rubber strap inlaid with metallic finish woven Kevlar, achieving contemporary style and finish.

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astromystèrieux

When you look at a watch like the Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux, the illusion it presents is near hypnotic. The watch’s central display area is completely transparent, adding instead of taking away from the mysteries of its workings. With the word ‘mystery’ smack in its name, it is no wonder this piece by Cartier presents itself as another horological puzzle. The question this watch poses is how it is connected to the winding and setting mechanism, which is via the crown. As you can see, there appears to be no connection between the mechanical calibre and the crown. Well, how does it work? Four separate sapphire crystal disks are layered upon each other — each housing a different component — creating an illusion that the entire movement is suspended in the oculus of the watch dial. The juxtaposition between the elegance and complexity of this watch is what makes it breathtaking.

Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari

As Ferrari‘s official timekeeper and watchmaker, Hublot first revealed the MP-05 LaFerrari in 2013 and has since put out a full sapphire version. The original all-black watch was created as a tribute to Ferrari, with its design reminiscent of the iconic LaFerrari car’s V-shaped engine block. The watch’s movement runs on an astounding 637 components, coupled with a scratch resistant sapphire crystal face and a matte black finish for the titanium case. Black anodized cylinders with red accents along the 11 mainspring barrels reveal the time. With an exceptional power reserve of 50 days, the LaFerrari surely does live up to its powerful counterpart.

Franck Muller Vanguard Gravity

Franck Muller‘s avant-garde style is revered as refreshingly different and daring, and this leading watch master has never been known to follow the norms. Part of the Vanguard collection, the Vanguard Gravity embodies the company’s raison d’être of uniqueness in both technicality and design. Boasting peerless visual impact in a tourbillon watch (the tourbillon section is massive), the watch represents an evolution of the Cintrée Curvex aesthetic. Set off center, the balance wheel pulls attention to the curved cage that holds it in place.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatour Cobalt MicroMelt

The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor Cobalt MicroMelt is not a new watch per se, but rather a revamped version in a striking new material. Having recently made its debut at SIHH 2017, the watch boasts a cobalt-chromium alloy case, making it a world-first. Extremely resistant to the effects of time, the case is made using MicroMelt technology. Like precious metals that maintain their lustre forever, this new material promises to be eternal – while also adding an element of extreme durability. This process consists of melting the alloy down before a high-pressure gas stream is employed, atomizing the alloy and resulting in a powder. Followed by a hot-isostatic pressing, it is condensed into maximum density making the case material extremely durable. The incredible technology used to create this timepiece is what boosts it into our list.

These images were first published as a spread in the Festive Issue 2016 of WOW (World of Watches). The WOW team would like to highlight that this spread was incorrectly credited. The digital artist responsible is Zi Wen. 

Hublot-La-Ferrari-Sapphire

Hublot Art Of Fusion: A Different World

If there’s a brand that can be relied on to pull out all the stops and execute the craziest ideas, it is Hublot. The brand’s releases in the past few years would be proof aplenty. Consider the MP-05 LaFerrari, for instance. How many watch companies could believably market and sell a watch featuring a stack of 11 barrels in series to achieve a record-breaking 50-day power reserve? Said astonishing timepiece also features a vertical movement architecture complete with a tourbillon, housed in a case reminiscent of a low-slung supercar. As if that’s not enough, the LaFerrari even has its own power tool to wind the mainspring, which further emphasised just how atypical the watch and its engine is.

Audacity Meets Complexity
Hublot MP-02

MP-02 “Key of Time”

Hublot has been involved with exotic complications like the MP-05 LaFerrari since 2010, when the brand acquired BNB Concept, an external complications specialist, and subsumed 30 of its watchmakers to form its new complications department. The department is devoted to assembling just high complications such as tourbillons and minute repeaters which, given the complexity of the work involved, limits its output to roughly 500 watches a year. Watchmaking aside, this department also collaborates with the R&D team to develop new movements.

Although Hublot does offer traditional (at least by Hublot’s standards) high complications such as tourbillons and chiming watches, the complications department’s works are still best represented by the MP (Masterpiece) collection, which explores – and executes – highly unusual concepts. Apart from the MP-05 LaFerrari described above, the brand has also dabbled in time control with the MP-02 “Key of Time”, which had a movement that could slow down or speed up the advancement of its hands depending on its owner’s mood, yet switch back to display the “correct” time immediately thanks to a mechanical memory system.

Hublot

MP-07 42 Days Power Reserve

The latest addition to the collection is the MP-07 42 Days Power Reserve, which adds even greater variety to the MP range. As the younger sibling to the LaFerrari, it also uses the concept of stacking multiple barrels – nine series-coupled ones this time – to achieve a greatly extended power reserve. The MP-07’s movement layout has, however, been completely redesigned, and the barrels now run horizontally across the watch’s upper edge. The case is now entirely different too, and emphasises angles and facets instead of curves. What’s also missing is the LaFerrari branding, which downplays the association with the Italian marque without diluting the mechanical marvel within the timepiece.

Top Calibre
Hublot

Big Bang Unico Titanium Bracelet

Hublot hasn’t ignored its core market of mid-level watches and movements though. This category is anchored by the brand’s signature integrated chronograph movement, the Unico, which represents a step up from the commonly used Valjoux 7750, thanks to features such as column wheel actuation, flyback functionality, and a longish three-day power reserve.

According to CEO Ricardo Guadalupe, the plan for Hublot isn’t to raise the absolute number of watches produced, but to increase the proportion of in-house movements used in its timepieces, and the Unico is the driving force behind this shift. To that end, the calibre was designed for serial production, with modularity baked into its design to accommodate this. The silicon escapement, for instance, can be quickly dropped in or swapped out to speed up production and servicing work. Modularity also extends to the macro level, with the base Unico movement designed to integrate easily with external modules such as perpetual calendars, both to simplify assembly and to increase the shared number of parts.

Hublot

Big Bang MECA-10 in titanium, with a new manual winding three-hand movement that has a 10-day power reserve

In contrast to the atelier-style complications department, the assembly chain for the Unico movement is an exercise in large-scale serial production, and will deliver over 20,000 pieces of the movement by the end of this year. Guadalupe has stressed that the Unico will continue to be Hublot’s core movement family for the foreseeable future, and hinted that a “baby Unico” is already in the works.

Hublot

Big Bang Unico Retrograde Chronograph UEFA Euro 2016 uses a Unico movement with an added module to achieve its bi-retrograde display

Hublot hasn’t just limited its work in this movement segment to the Unico. Earlier this year, the brand released the Big Bang MECA-10, which was fitted with the new HUB1201 calibre. This manually wound three-hand movement comes skeletonised and sports a 10-day power reserve which, feature-wise, makes it a radical departure from the Unico. Aesthetically, the HUB1201 is also rather different, with a design that resembles the Meccano line of toys it’s inspired by. Like the Unico, however, it is also an in-house development, and looks set to spawn further iterations to balance out the sporty chronograph movements that are already in place.

Case By Casehublot-magic-gold-bezel-polished

While growing its stable of in-house movements, Hublot was also pursuing a parallel development track in case making. Currently, carbon fibre cases are made completely within the manufacture, from the initial layering, moulding, and sintering process that produces the composite, to the actual machining that creates the final product. A few other selected cases are also produced in-house, including the titanium reference of the MP-05 LaFerrari, which takes a CNC machine an entire day for just one piece to be made, due to its size and complex contours. Although carbon fibre and titanium are more difficult to work with in comparison to steel and gold, Hublot’s expertise in case making is still topped out by its unique ability to produce Magic Gold cases.

Making Magic
Hublot

Melted 24K gold before the injection process

Magic Gold is a patented gold alloy that was first presented in 2012 after three years of R&D with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). The project culminated in the setting up of a laboratory within the manufacture – complete with its own foundry – where Hublot now produces the proprietary alloy independently.

The issue with gold is hardness, or the lack thereof. Pure gold is just too soft to be used in watchmaking, so it must be mixed with other metals to form harder alloys. It’s a zero sum game – an alloy can be made harder by lowering its gold content, but this reduces its value and makes it less precious. The industry standard, 18K gold, has gold comprising 75 per cent of its mass, and offers a good balance between hardness and purity. Still, 18K gold alloy’s hardness only goes up to 400 Vickers (depending on its exact formulation and how it was worked), which is significantly lower than stainless steel, which can reach 700 Vickers.

A block of boron carbide before it's impregnated with 24K gold.

A block of boron carbide before it’s impregnated with 24K gold.

Hublot overcame the problem with Magic Gold, an alloy with conventional 18K purity, but an unusual hardness of nearly 1,000 Vickers that renders it extremely scratch resistant. Alloy is a misnomer here given the intricacies of Magic Gold’s structure and creation, but the term will suffice for now. The secret to its hardness is boron carbide, the third hardest substance known. Nicknamed “black diamond”, this ceramic has a wide range of applications, including tank armour and industrial cutting tools.

Producing Magic Gold is a multistep process. Boron carbide powder is first compacted into a solid mass that approximates the intended product’s shape – a hollow tube, for instance, can be cut into “slices” and machined into case middles and bezels – before being sintered to bond the powder into a single porous solid. Pure molten gold is then forced into these interconnected pores under 200 bars of pressure, before the entire chunk of material is cooled down. This entire process takes three to four days, and the result is Magic Gold, which has 18K purity as gold accounts for 75 per cent of the total weight.

Magic Gold’s scratch resistance makes it a difficult material to work with. To machine Magic Gold components, CNC machines equipped with diamond-tipped tools and ultrasonic cutting capabilities had to be specially ordered from Germany. Milling and shaping the components is still time consuming though – the hollow tube of Magic Gold described above yields enough material for 28 bezels, which currently takes Hublot up to three weeks to machine. Processing waste Magic Gold (generated during production) to recover its gold content is also tedious – the material must be heated to 1,100 degrees Celsius to melt the gold, which then drains out of the solid boron carbide mass, albeit without requiring extra pressure.

Although Magic Gold has been successfully commercialised, Hublot continues to fine-tune its production techniques. At the moment, it produces 30 to 40 complete cases each month. The industrialisation of the material is expected to become more efficient over time as the brand continues to gain experience with it. The laboratory’s work hasn’t ended here – it is currently exploring other metal-ceramic hybrids, including an aluminium-ceramic hybrid with projected properties of toughness and extreme lightness.

Unlimited Creativity
Big Bang Unico Magic Gold

Big Bang Unico Magic Gold

Beyond Magic Gold cases, Hublot has also used various other exotic materials in its watches as an extension of its “Art of Fusion” philosophy. The brand has a penchant for combining seemingly disparate elements to produce startling results. The Big Bang Ferrari Carbon watches, for instance, saw the brand mixing gold into the carbon matrix during the carbon composite’s production, which produced an unprecedented gold-carbon hybrid that’s visually similar to camouflage markings.

Hublot

Big Bang Dark Jeans Ceramic

This line of attack is also seen in how Hublot infused denim with epoxy to protect and preserve it, using the result in its Big Bang Denim watches’ dials; this perishable fabric is now immutable. Texalium is yet another example. The material is a carbon composite coated with a layer of aluminium that doesn’t just allow different colours to be used, but also imparts a brilliance that cannot be traditionally achieved, while preserving the substrate’s weight advantages.

Hublot

Big Bang Unico Italia Independant Blue with Texatium used on its bezel and case

It isn’t difficult to see the direction that the brand is moving towards. Its expansion in the past five to seven years has focused on the ability to develop new movements, new materials, and to produce its own cases, making it well poised to eventually create almost any watch that it can conceive. Hublot is already offering glimpses into this future, from mechanical sculptures like the LaFerrari in titanium, to proprietary movements and materials in the Big Bang Unico Magic Gold. Marketing hype and brand partnerships aside, this effervescent manufacture is where you’ll find watchmaking sexy again.

Hublot

Big Bang Ferrari Carbon with a gold-carbon hybrid bezel

This article was first published in WOW.

Creating Fashion that Sells Isn’t a Sin

What is the point of high fashion these days? Is there a reason that designers still get to sit on their high horses when the most talked about brand these days is Vetements, with all its nonstop talk about “clothing people actually wear”? It’s really an issue of the industry failing to catch up with the times, which is strangely ironic considering that fashion is supposed to represent and extol the times it lives in.

In the aughts of haute couture, and really since before the time of Charles Frederick Worth (considered the progenitor of high fashion) and Marie Antoinette, what fashion represented in the zeitgeist and times was desire. Plain and simple, it was about elevating and making clothing so beautiful, flattering, and jealousy-inducing that it was a means to a social end. Fashion is so strikingly bourgeois and hierarchical today precisely because it has, for so many years, represented a certain degree of sophistication and, indeed, wealth.

Selling isn't a sin: Chanel

Chanel

So what is high fashion for today, if Chanel is no longer haughtily pronouncing items of clothing démodé and instead, planting emojis onto accessories and clothing? If a brand as vaunted and intellectual as Prada is selling bags straight off the runway, can it still maintain a cachet of luxury and intelligence without the stink of shilling products (perhaps by making customers wait for the rest of its seasonal fashion direction)?

Selling isn't a sin: Balenciaga

Balenciaga

I posit that high fashion today is returning to its core, plain and simple, all over again. It is about beautiful clothing, wonderful things people feel an urge to wear, and representing the cultural values of the times. It is why Balenciaga under Demna Gvasalia feels so… right. With its post-modern melding of old-world techniques and new-age street-wise tricks, it has been vaulted right back into the fashion consciousness – and it is worth paying attention to again. With the advertising and PR money of fashion, it sometimes becomes difficult to differentiate what’s worth the time and what’s paid for. The purest reaction, then, is clothing that can convince customers to part with money to put on their back.

Selling isn't a sin: Vetements

Vetements

The ’90s were all at once the best and worst time for intellectual fashion, but that’s gone down the drain now. Conglomeration of brands and companies meant that fashion as an art and a means to an end was becoming monetized. Think of LVMH, Kering and Prada group’s expansions at the time.

Today, LVMH’s brands are represented in a good half of all fashion magazines’ front bumper of ads. Louis Vuitton, Dior, Céline, Loewe, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Fendi – even jewelry and watch brands such as Bulgari, Chaumet, Hublot, TAG Heuer, etc. Kering rounds it up with Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, etc. Where did the mavericks like Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela go?

In an environment where people simply demanded more and more clothing, it became hard for such intellectually-driven and conceptual designers to continue – never mind that the clothes they designed and created were eminently wearable and beautiful. But it was tricky, because the old shows from Prada, for instance, were such subtle exercises in decryption. Meaning was layered and veiled, and it took a trained eye and mind to pick apart what exactly Mrs Prada was saying each season. Today, a collection like its FW16 vagabond girls-on-the-run one is, while beautiful, almost obvious to interpret. In recent seasons too: fast cars and sweaty glamour, stiff Stepford wives’ tailoring, duney desert travellers. They make big political and cultural statements, but they’re plain to see.

Selling isn't a sin: Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

Therein lies the problem. When fashion becomes grounds for intellectual concepts, customers get frustrated. It was famously hard for people to grasp Craig Green’s debut SS15 collection with flowing judoka quilts and banners bound to the models. But it struck a chord with the industry collective viewing the show – inspiring some tears, even. Here was a collection set against an Enya soundtrack, resplendent in creative liberty and in the luxury of time it took to craft. It was beautiful and it sold. Next season, he did a similar thing – line and silhouette were only slightly different, but there was a complete reversal in the reaction of the press. Lambasts of similarity and repetition abounded, and it became clear that the industry was on the same page as its readers’ attention spans. Never mind giving designers time to develop an idea and letting it stew, mutate, evolve and be felt out. We wanted more and more of the new.

Selling isn't a sin: Prada

Prada

So where is intellectual fashion’s place in today’s fast-paced commercial churning environment? It is a conundrum that is hard to solve. Perhaps that is why Vetements is so successful – because it makes you feel like you’re thinking and being smart about things while contributing no effort at all. Perhaps it is why Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent was such a runaway commercial success – because you didn’t have to think while wearing his clothes, you just had to partake in his vacuous vein of L.A. grungy cool. Perhaps it is why Phoebe Philo’s Céline is so influential – women don’t have to think about what they’re representing to the world because Philo’s clothing whispers refinement for them. Perhaps it is why Alessandro Michele’s Gucci is so refreshing – they’re simply fun to wear (the same, season after season) and don’t offer much by way of a political or cultural message.

I am not against any of this.

Selling isn't a sin: Jacquemus

Jacquemus

On the contrary, it is the way fashion is today, and to whine about time gone by is to be astoundingly near-sighted – rather, rear-sighted. Karl Lagerfeld has been so good for Chanel exactly because he takes to the times he lives in like a cultural sponge. There’s a respect to the historical foundations of the brand, but even more surely a perspective of today.

Selling isn't a sin: Gucci

Gucci

What I’m saying is that “commercial” isn’t necessarily a bad word. We’ve been wary of the financial beast for long enough; it’s time to be smart about it and synthesize what we know with what we want. There’s a reason designers such as Christian Lacroix went out of business despite his reign in the ’80s and ’90s in Paris: extravagance and bonanza dresses stopped becoming relevant. After sobering financial crashes, actual plane crashes and a global worldview of uncertainty, the dream was over.

Selling isn't a sin: Dries Van Nolen

Dries Van Nolen

Today, the new dream is perhaps clothes that slide right into daily life. A note: I’m not saying poorly designed and poorly made clothes with nary a thought or smarts should get a pass for being easy to buy and wear. I’m talking about fashion that has a contextual place in contemporary culture and represents a designer’s point of view. Ultimately, that’s the place of fashion: on our backs.

This article was first published in L’Officiel Singapore.

Top 5 Watch Partnerships 2016

Two is better than one they say and in the case of these watch partnerships, collaborations and inspirations, it is certainly true. From luxury fashion brands to superheros, the possibilities are endless. We bring you the top five timepieces that are the result of wonderful collaborations.

Leather CladHublot-Berluti-Basel-report

Hublot’s play with materials continues in the Classic Fusion Berluti, which has a leather strap… and dial

Hublot expresses its motto, “The Art of Fusion”, in many different ways. One oft-explored concept involves collaborations with external partners to use “non-watchmaking” materials in Hublot watches, both for variety’s sake and to evoke the spirit behind these materials. These have ranged from silk embroidery in the Big Bang Broderie, to denim in the Big Bang Jeans, to even tobacco leaves in the Classic Fusion Tobacco X.

For its latest creation, Hublot has teamed up with Berluti, its sibling from the LVMH group. Long renowned for its leathers thanks to an expertise honed since 1895, Berluti was a natural choice for Hublot, who wanted to use the material in a watch – but beyond just its strap. The result? The Classic Fusion Berluti, which comes in two references, each with a matching leather dial and strap that’s paired to an appropriate case material. Of the two, the Classic Fusion Berluti Scritto shown here is arguably the more nuanced one. Its King Gold case is complemented by Berluti’s signature Venezia Scritto leather, rendered here in tobacco brown and finished with a patina to create a colour gradient. The final detailing varies across the watch; the leather used in the dial is embossed, while the material is laser etched with decorative calligraphy on the strap.Hublot-Classic-Fusion-Berluti-close-up-wow-basel-report

Although leather is an organic material that will eventually deteriorate, the process can be put off or even avoided entirely. To that end, the Classic Fusion Berluti’s dial has a layered construction, with the leather sandwiched between a brass base plate and a sapphire top plate (just 0.3mm thick) to isolate and protect it. The same goes for the watch’s hybrid strap of Venezia Scritto leather over rubber – a structure that keeps the leather from coming into direct contact with the wearer’s wrist.

The Classic Fusion Berluti Scritto has a limited run of just 250 pieces. Each timepiece is delivered with a presentation box that can double up as a shoebox, in a nod to Berluti’s core product, with a range of leather care products inside.

The Dark Knight ReturnsRomaine-Jerome-Gotham-City

Romain Jerome unleashes the second Batman-DNA timepiece, this time centred on Gotham City

Romain Jerome’s enthusiasm for creating pop culture-laden timepieces shows no signs of abating, and the brand has teamed up once again with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to offer a second Batman-themed timepiece. This new iteration, the Batman-DNA Gotham City, was inspired by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, and pays tribute to the eponymous city where Batman’s adventures take place. The watch shows a stylised bird’s-eye view of Gotham City’s skyscrapers, with the uncanny sense of depth achieved by engraving the dial into three separate layers to play with perspective.Romaine-Jerome-Gotham-City-close-up-watch

Naturally, a timepiece like this wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by the Caped Crusader himself. Batman’s logo sits dead centre on the dial as an appliqué, with a sandblasted top surface and hand-chamfered outline. The watch’s facetted bezel, reminiscent of the Batmobile’s angular profile, also makes its return in this watch and, like its predecessor, contains both sandblasted and polished surfaces.

With hardly any contrasting elements, the Batman-DNA Gotham City looks decidedly low-key on the wrist. Like Bruce Wayne, however, it has a secret hiding in plain sight. The lowest layer of “Gotham City” has been treated with a layer of blue Super-LumiNova, which glows in the dark to outline the Batman logo, as well as to accentuate the “height” of the “buildings” surrounding it.

Like the original Batman-DNA, the Batman-DNA Gotham City is limited to 75 pieces.

British InvasionRaymond-Weil-Maestro-Beatles-Limited-Edition

The Raymond Weil Maestro Beatles Limited Edition celebrates the Fab Four’s career and proves that Beatlemania never truly went away

Raymond Weil turns 40 this year. What better way to celebrate this milestone, than with the release of a timepiece featuring the greatest band the world has ever seen? The Maestro Beatles Limited Edition is the result of Raymond Weil’s partnership with Apple Corps, the company that the Fab Four founded in 1968. Initially conceived as a tax haven, Apple Corps grew into a conglomerate representing the lads’ business interests, and currently owns the rights to The Beatles’s images and other intellectual properties, which Raymond Weil has licensed for use.Raymond-Weil-Maestro-Beatles-Limited-Edition-close-up

Unlike most other Beatles-themed products that are centred on a specific aspect of the band (Yellow Submarine, anyone?), the Maestro Beatles Limited Edition is a celebration of the group’s entire career. The timepiece has all 13 albums comprising its “core catalogue”, arranged chronologically in a clockwise direction beginning with Please Please Me at 12:30, and including Magical Mystery Tour, originally a US-only release. In lieu of text, Help!’s entry on the dial at four o’clock is a simplified version of the album’s cover, which had The Beatles posing in flag semaphore, thus doubling as a graphical representation of the band as well.

Both the silver dial and smoked sapphire case back bear the official The Beatles logo, so fans of the band can proudly wear their hearts on both their sleeves and wrists. Limited to 3,000 pieces.

Battle BornLuminox-Spec-Ops-Challenge

Luminox’s Spec Ops Challenge watch reveals a new dimension in the partnership between the brand and the US Navy SEALs

Luminox and the US Navy SEALs have formalised their relationship this year, and the brand is now an official licensee of the special operations unit. The ties between the two go beyond just active Navy SEAL operators though; Luminox has also partnered with retired Navy SEALs to offer the Special Operations Challenge (Spec Ops Challenge), which gives civilians a chance to experience Navy SEALs training for a day. The new Spec Ops Challenge watches were created to commemorate this collaboration, and comes in two versions based on the Navy SEAL Colormark 3050 and Authorised for Navy Use (ANU) 4220 models respectively.Luminox-Spec-Ops-Challenge-close-up

The Spec Ops Challenge watch here is based on the Navy SEAL Colormark 3050 and, like every other Luminox timepiece, uses tritium-filled glass tubes that emit a constant glow to display the time in the dark. The watch retains the original’s carbon-reinforced polycarbonate case, and thus its corresponding lightness, durability, and stealthy matte black finish. Its highly legible dial and bezel designs have also been kept largely intact, save for the large Spec Ops Challenge logo at six o’clock. Each Spec Ops Challenge watch ships with a polyurethane strap and an additional NATO fabric strap.

As a sign of the deepening relationship between Luminox and the Navy SEALs, part of the proceeds from the sale of each Spec Ops Challenge watch will go towards the Navy SEAL Foundation, which provides financial and other forms of support for the servicemen and families of the Naval Special Warfare community.

Driving ForceOris-Wiliams-Valtteri-Bottas

Oris expands its Williams collection with a watch named after and dedicated to the team’s driver, Valtteri Bottas

Oris is the Williams F1 team’s longest standing partner, and the two have teamed up for the 14th consecutive season this year at the 2016 Formula One World Championship. To celebrate this collaboration, Oris launched the Williams collection last year with sporty timepieces referencing and dedicated to the team. The brand has followed up this year with a new model honoring the team’s driver, Valtteri Bottas.

The Williams Valtteri Bottas Limited Edition is based on the Williams Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme, and shares the latter’s hybrid case construction. The watch begins with a case middle of carbon fiber reinforced polymer weighing just 7.2g, which is produced by a patented process Oris adapted from F1 manufacturing techniques. Sheets of woven carbon fiber are first layered in a mould and impregnated with a resin, before the mixture is baked under five bars of pressure at 130 degrees Celsius, twice, to harden it into the final product. The watch’s dial is made of the same material, while its bezel and case back are in DLC-coated titanium instead. This combination of materials creates a light yet robust watch.Oris-Wiliams-Valtteri-Bottas-close-up

High-tech materials aside, the Williams Valtteri Bottas Limited Edition also draws links to the sport via its design, beginning with the use of color-coded detailing in blue and white that makes it a cinch to read the time and use the chronograph simultaneously. With the tachymeter on the bezel, the user is also able to make quick measurements of speed. Eagle-eyed observers will notice that the chronograph’s minute and hour totalisers reset to eight o’clock instead of 12 o’clock. The subtle modification is yet another nod to motoring, and references a car’s dashboard instruments.

The Williams Valtteri Bottas Limited Edition has a production run of just 770 numbered pieces. Each watch’s number is engraved onto its case back alongside Valtteri Bottas’s name as well as his car number: 77.

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Power Packed: Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon

Since it went through a major revamp in 2013, the Hublot Big Bang has never looked better. Keeping loyal to the Art of Fusion concept, the manufacture not only retained but also reinforced the watch’s modular case design, which lends itself perfectly to different material combinations. The Big Bang’s contemporary allure also makes it an ideal vessel to host complicated movements, particularly if they are also modern in design, like the new Calibre HUB6016.

The first tourbillon set in the new Big Bang case, this proprietary movement was designed, developed, and produced entirely in-house by Hublot’s manufacture in Nyon, Switzerland. Traditional in geometry, it is, however, completely futuristic in aesthetic. Its bridges and plates feature cutouts that expose strategic parts of the movement, such as its mainspring at 12 o’clock and the crown’s winding gears at three. Together with the skeletonised hands tipped with black Super-LumiNova, the monochromatic finish heightens the modern industrial design, allowing only traces of red to stand out via the minute indexes and the power reserve indicator.

Hublot Big Bang

Proffering a nifty power reserve reading at nine o’clock that’s accompanied by stencilled text and numerals, the watch’s movement is regulated by a classical bridged tourbillon. But that’s the only classical aspect of the tourbillon because its design is in perfect keeping with the rest of the watch. Futuristic, sporty, and highly technical, the tourbillon rotates once every 60 seconds and, according to Hublot, is especially stable thanks to the barrette-shaped bridge securing it on the dial side.

Like all of Hublot’s new Big Bang models, the Big Bang Tourbillon 5-Day Power Reserve Indicator allows its owner to quickly and simply switch between different straps. Thanks to the unique “One Click” bracelet attachment system, this watch could take on a multitude of different appearances without fear of it ever losing its grip on the strap. Indeed, Hublot guarantees optimal security on this system and completes it with a triple deployant buckle – how’s that for a safety net?

Specs

  • Dimensions: 45mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes
  • Power Reserve: Five days
  • Movement: Manual-winding Calibre HUB6016 skeleton movement with tourbillon
  • Case: King Gold or titanium
  • Water Resistant: 30 meters
  • Strap: Black alligator leather stitched onto black rubber with triple deployant buckle in King Gold or titanium

In Singapore and Malaysia, Hublot retails at The Hour Glass.

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Crystal Cases: Close-Up on Sapphire Watches

Sapphire watches have come a long way. This type of timepiece has been long coveted by many a horological fan whose been enamored with the see-through casing. The process itself though, is quite the hassle, which also accounts for why watchmakers can’t afford to make it with any lasting regularity. But many, including Richard Mille, Hublot, and H. Moser & Cie., have risen up to the challenge

You can check out more on this story over at Men’s Folio.

Absolutely Brilliant: 14 Top Jewelry Watches

Like many things with a topping, jewellery watches tend to be larger than life. They may not be to everyone’s taste – there are those who wouldn’t touch a brew with cream and sugar in it or people who’d always scrape the icing off a cupcake; but when a watch is dressed in a Technicolor coat of precious stones, everything goes up a notch, or 10. Price for one, for not just the material, skill, design, and man-hours, but also sourcing stones from the ends of the Earth and working tirelessly over them, polishing, cutting, and setting racks up significantly higher costs. And secondly, there’s wattage: Not the electricity it takes to light a bulb, but metaphorically, an index of the amount of attention a jewelled watch is going to attract.

This happy circumstance of putting hand to stone, far from creating broken windows, has instead birthed a bewildering range of jewellery watches of every shade of colour, and taste, limited only by the collective imagination of the human race. Some watches go for subtlety, with just a light dusting of precious stones to bring up the lustre. In other instances, it is the diamonds and precious stones paved like tarmac that do the talking for the timepiece.

In both, and the continuum of moderation in between, a watch is worn all the better when the degree of ornamentation is pitched exactly to what the wearer intends. Here are some that have caught our eye.

RAPPERS & ROCK STARS

If a wattage could be ascribed to this class, it would be on the top end of the scale, by the sheer weight of stones, usually diamonds, paved onto every nook and cranny of the timepiece’s three-dimensional form. It’s conceivable only the night sky will have more stars by number, however, the point is not really to count, but to declare, “Here I am!” People will stare for sure because watches in this class aren’t just slathered with the good stuff; they are also designed in a way that proclaims wealth, loud and proud.

01-Audemars-Piguet-Royal-Oak-Offshore-Chronograph

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
When one of the most established Swiss watchmaking houses creates something that is modern and captures the spirit of the times, an icon is birthed. In this case, the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, much-beloved of elite rapper and sports celebrities, is released in nearly as many special editions to match. Wholly carpeted with diamonds – save for onyxes to mark the hours – the result is a thoroughly aspirational emblem of excess.

102075_BGOW43D2GD2DBR-DANIEL ROTH

Bulgari Octo Bi-Retrograde Full Diamonds
Squat and sleek at the same time, it’s like wearing a bunker on one’s wrist, its walls laid over with diamonds, and dual arcs in black ceramic for the retrograde minutes and date. Utterly glamorous with a commanding presence.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Collection EX45 Spyder 505SQ

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon with Diamonds
It’s a little ironic that a watch from which so much material has been excised should have such a long name. And in comparison with other megawatt watches in this category, it hasn’t got that many carats on its spec sheet either. But in both senses, whether metal or stone, the Spider Tourbillon exemplifies the ideal of projecting so much presence with so little. And what diamonds it’s got are set using a unique process, into the rubber moulding wrapped around the bezel.

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Hublot Big Bang Unico “10 Years” Haute Joaillerie
It’s been 10 years since Hublot’s Big Bang stormed into the watch collecting scene, and to celebrate, the company introduced three new Big Bang models valued at a combined $10 million – an arresting statement from a company that writes the book on making statements! In particular, the Unico Haute Joaillerie comes in four references, set to the hilt in precious stones: black diamonds, white diamonds, white diamonds and blue sapphires, and white diamonds and red rubies.

OLD MONEY

If elegance is conveyed in a whisper, that is only relative in a manner of speaking. Timepieces here are not ‘loud’; but for sheer beauty and luxury, they give no quarter in their ability to draw one’s eye. Not by the collar, as compared to pieces that are all about bold expression – that would not be very refined. Rather, they cast their spell by compelling persuasion, even seduction. Enthrallment rather than shock and awe, and once ensnared, many would find they’d rather do backflips than look away.

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Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon High Jewellery
There’s a white gold case forming the core of the watch, but one doesn’t get to see it, because the entire timepiece, save for the tourbillon and including the bracelet, is entirely paved with baguette-cut diamonds using an invisible setting technique. Working at tolerances down to 100th of a millimetre, the fit is perfect, no different from a second skin. A true creature of light.

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Bulgari Octo Tourbillon Full Diamonds
The distinctiveness of its octagonal case and its angular lugs project immense presence. At the same time, the arctic blaze of the diamonds tiled over the whole watch finds beautiful contrast in the warmth and animation of the tourbillon.

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Breguet Classique 5238
Even with diamonds up to its ears, paved on case, bezel, and lugs, the Classique 5238 with openworked dial has not shed a whit of the formal elegance and visual purity of the rest of the Classique family. Somehow, it manages to look luxurious without being extravagant, stealing the show without being 
overtly showy. Brilliant!

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Breguet 5719 Classique Hora Mundi Haute Joaillerie
What looks to be a glamour piece for the ballroom actually scores very high on utility, featuring a self-winding movement with instant jump second time zone display at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. Engraved day/night indicator is deliciously quaint, and the continent of one’s choice (America, Europe or Asia/Oceania) rendered in round-cut diamonds and set against wavy rose engine turned ocean is a sight to behold.

BEAUTY QUEENS

Every watch marched out of a serious watchmaking factory has had a lot of design thought into its creation: nothing is random, accidental, and every flourish makes a point even if it’s mechanically superfluous. But these watches take design a nudge further, ties are loosened if not flung away, and brushes are inked a little wetter for bolder strokes.

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Cartier Pasha de Cartier 42mm Skeleton Dragon Motif Watch
Watch aficionados light up for the skeletonised manufacture movement specially shaped to complement the dragon motif; but the latter itself is wonderfully stylised, drawn with softer lines that are a departure from the more regular renditions, all snarly, teeth and talons. Exquisite; and the Pasha’s distinctive crown has just a bit of the oriental vibe to match.

Métiers d'Art Swan 86677-000G-B116

Vacheron Constantin Métiers D’art L’éloge De La Nature Swan
The swan being a symbol of enduring love, it is fitting that this watch should come as a pair, a men’s and a women’s model in 42mm and 39mm cases respectively. It takes two months to complete each dial, and four crafts – enamelling, engraving, guilloche, gem-setting – to impart vividness and liveliness to stone and metal, effecting a breath-taking rendition of a lustrous swan spreading its wings on a lake of enamel.

TECH WIZ

Very much of watchmaking is about technology and technique. The Swiss anchor and hairspring are important milestones in man’s technological advancement, a long way from stone tools and time measurement in drips and drabs. But especially in the 21st century, well into the age of digital and information technology holding sway, some watchmakers remain adamant about performing incredible feats of mechanical engineering, extending the relevance and wonder of the gear-driven timepiece.

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Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari Golden Jubilee
The plain vanilla MP-05 is already more exclusive than its supercar namesake, being limited to 50 pieces. But the Golden Jubilee created to celebrate SG50 and Big Bang’s 10th anniversary is even more so, as a unique piece. As unique as its orientation, which is not top-down like most watches, but front-back, like a stack of coins stood on their edges. The watch has 11 barrels (most watches have one) stacked just like this, visible as the central spine on the watch face, terminating in a vertical tourbillon and flanked by marked cylinders telling time and power reserve, over a scale of 50 days! Golden Jubilee model adds plenty of diamonds, like scales on a cobra’s head.

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Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon
It’s like the watchmakers pussy-footed on the documents, to make doubly sure the mechanical merits are highlighted by precious stones without being upstaged; the archetypal “watch with jewellery” as opposed to the reverse. In this case, a handsome balance has been struck. Being adequately embellished, it’s not just the diamonds, but the supreme refinement and conservative elegance of Vacheron Constantin’s tourbillon – with the distinctive Maltese Cross tourbillon cage and outstanding 14-day power reserve – that shines through.

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Piaget Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Diamond-Set Automatic Skeleton
How can one forget Piaget when thinking about gem-set watches? The manufacture’s dual expertise in watchmaking and jewellery crafting does not go unnoticed especially in such illustrious timepieces like this one. Of course the technical know-how is impressive; it’s not every day that a manufacture gets to successfully create an ultra-thin self-winding skeletonised flying tourbillon. But Piaget had already done that a few years ago, and with this new model, it went a step further, lavishing the movement Calibre 1270D with beautiful diamonds. The case, bezel, crown, and bracelet, as well as the micro-rotor, have all been set with a mix of brilliant- and baguette-cut gems.

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition
The Grande Maison’s watchmaking mastery extends out of grand complications and into such luxuriant yet tasteful gem-setting as seen in these two stunning creations. We have the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétual with flawless baguette-cut gems cradling the tourbillon as well as set all around the bezel and crown, not to mention its indexes too, and the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique, which is fully paved with baguette-cut gemstones. In the latter, Jaeger-LeCoultre plays with colours, namely blue 
and silver, by mixing blue sapphires with diamonds, and white gold with blued steel.

Story Credits
Text by Yeo Suan Futt

This article was originally published on World of Watches

Interview: Ricardo Guadalupe for Hublot

In a fashion worthy of its namesake cosmological phenomenon, the Big Bang by Hublot exploded onto the watchmaking scene and forever changed the way luxury watches were perceived. The year was 2005 and the Hublot watch company had just been taken over by a new management team, but there was no stopping the Big Bang from hitting the market, not when the driving force behind this watch included the likes of industry living legend, Jean-Claude Biver.

At that time, Biver and his team came up with a brilliant marketing message to accompany the Big Bang, called the Art of Fusion, alluding to how the watch combined unlikely materials in a luxury timepiece. With his team, Biver stewarded Hublot from a quiet, understated brand to become one that offers the hottest, trendiest watches money could buy. Success came swiftly for the young company, when French luxury group LVMH came knocking on its door in 2008. And in 2012, Biver handed the reins over to his designated successor, Ricardo Guadalupe, who had been a trusted associate since the mid 1990s.

Guadalupe, however, isn’t new to Hublot; he was part of the initial team that Biver formed in 2004. As such, he had been deeply involved in the creation of the Big Bang, as well as later star collections like the Classic Fusion, King Power, and Masterpiece series. Taking care of Hublot’s business operations in different markets and personally meeting the brand’s VIP customers from all over the world, it is not too farfetched to say that he is a Hublot guy through and through. The Swiss national of Spanish descent was also responsible for bringing the Mexican sport of lucha libre to Singapore earlier in the year as part of the Big Bang’s 10th anniversary celebrations. His amiable personality suits the brand perfectly – some might even say that Biver’s energetic dynamism continues in Guadalupe.

The Big Bang collection includes high complications like this Big Bang Tourbillon 5-Days Power Reserve Indicator

The Big Bang collection includes high complications like this Big Bang Tourbillon 5-Days Power Reserve Indicator

Looking at how successful the Big Bang is today, it’s easy to imagine that Guadalupe’s job is an easy one. And a fun one too, what with all the sports and entertainment partnerships, but the truth cannot be further. In order to stay continuously one (or several) step ahead of the consumers, Guadalupe has to grow the brand in the most logical and meaningful ways possible. He established the first step in the right direction with the introduction of Hublot’s very first in-house movement, the Unico Chronograph. It was also under his leadership that Hublot increasingly develops complicated timepieces, including the latest MP-05 LaFerrari, which was a huge success and a resounding vote of confidence in Hublot’s manufacturing prowess. The road ahead for Hublot appears to be lit brightly with positivity and Guadalupe knows exactly what he needs to do.

Hublot’s success is mainly attributed to the Big Bang. Why do you think this watch has performed so well?

First of all, we have a strong message, which is the Art of Fusion. This didn’t exist before we created it 10 years ago. What it meant was that we make watches that respect tradition but have a vision that connects to the future, in particular by using materials from the present. The Big Bang is a result of this message. I would say that it was the right time for us to come up with a watch like this.

The Big Bang recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. From your point of view, what is the most valuable element of this watch?

Its strong identity. When you wear a Big Bang, you can see it from far away, and this is very important. This is very important for the consumer because it lets you feel a part of a family. When you wear a Hublot, you feel that you belong to this group that makes a lot of things happen, like events and partnerships. It’s different when you’re wearing a Hublot versus another watch. With us, you can wear either a black ceramic watch, a gold watch, chronograph, or even a tourbillon. Even for ladies, our products are very iconic.

Is this why a lot of Hublot owners own several Big Bangs?

[Laughs] We say sometimes that you get addicted to the Big Bang. I know many customers who buy every new model we make. I think the Big Bang allows a lot of creativity, so we can produce a lot of different models. We construct the watch in a mechanical way and we play with the colours and materials, so they always look very different.

With The Hour Glass, Hublot presented the limited edition Red Dot Bang that commemorates Singapore's 50th Anniversary

With The Hour Glass, Hublot presented the limited edition Red Dot Bang that commemorates Singapore’s 50th Anniversary

From a watch lover’s perspective, the numerous versions of the Big Bang are still one same watch. How is it that you can convince your customers to be repeat customers with just one product?

It’s very important to have a strong mono-product, although arguably a lot of other watch companies have mono-products too. We’re not the only ones. I think to have a strong, iconic product is essential in a brand. If you don’t have it, then there is a problem.

Does the modular construction of the Big Bang’s case also help in encouraging the flow of creativity?

Yes. The construction of the case was really an innovation that didn’t exist before because cases in general were produced just to protect the movement. There are the bezel, main case, back case, and that’s it. Ours is something different and I think it is a great innovation that we don’t talk enough about. I think it is a key element in allowing us to create so many models.

There are hundreds of variations of the Big Bang. Is the objective to keep the watch relevant to different spheres of people’s lives?

We sell our watches to people that in general have everything and always want something new and different. The creativity is important because that’s how we present novelties every year. If one day we fail to present something new, then something is wrong with us. This is part of our philosophy: Creativity and innovation. Sometimes it can be movement innovation or an evolution of a complication, and sometimes it can be creativity in terms of colour or material. Specifically for women, we have been presenting exciting novelties every year linked to trends going on in the fashion world.

Spirit of Bing Bang All Black; Guadalupe considers the all-black concept to be one of Hublot's most memorable milestones

Spirit of Bing Bang All Black; Guadalupe considers the all-black concept to be one of Hublot’s most memorable milestones

Could you take us back to some of the most significant milestones of the Big Bang?

The creation of the Big Bang is the first, obviously. We created a watch in steel and ceramic, which today remains our best seller. Even after 10 years, this watch is still our best seller. After that, I would say the all-black concept in 2006. The all-black model was a really innovative concept and I would say that black watches have become a kind of standard in the watch industry. Almost all brands have a black watch in their collection. I would also say our Unico movement is another milestone because at the beginning, we didn’t really have the power to develop a movement, so it took us some time. Still, it is an incredible achievement to have your own in-house chronograph. Finally, Magic Gold, which is the invention of a new gold alloy that’s unscratchable. To me, the Big Bang Unico Magic Gold is the watch that represents the 10th anniversary completely.

How does the Big Bang evolve without changing too much?

The key is to keep the DNA of the product. That’s the challenge, so right now we have changed the engine to Unico movements. And Unico will remain the future. Right now, the references are quite big at 45mm and we understand that many trends are cyclical, including case sizes, so we are also interested in developing a smaller movement to fit a 40mm case. We have also opened up the dial because we believe that when you sell mechanical watches, it is important to be able to see the value of the piece.

Revealing the movement of watches like the Classic Fusion Aero Moon is one way Guadalupe wants to demonstrate Hublot's watchmaking capabilities

Revealing the movement of watches like the Classic Fusion Aero Moon is one way Guadalupe wants to demonstrate Hublot’s watchmaking capabilities

What are your plans for the Big Bang for the next 10 years?

The Big Bang is our icon, but we also have the Classic Fusion, which is important because where the Big Bang has a strong design and sporty identity, the Classic Fusion is a reinterpretation of the old classic Hublots from the 1980s. They had been more sport-chic, came with thinner movements, and were smaller in general. I would say we are working on these two pillars simultaneously to develop the brand’s future. The idea is always to be innovative and different, so working on materials and further developing new movements are par for the course. We are really becoming an integrated manufacture, as are all the big brands of the Swiss industry.

Story Credits
Text & Interview by Celine Yap

This article was originally published in World of Watches

16 Ways to Bring Fun to Luxury Watches

It’s time to add some color to your watch collection – luxury doesn’t always have to be understated. Here are 16 watches, in four categories, that our friends at WOW (World of Watches) have curated that will do the trick.

Just a Hint

This is where the adage that less is more holds sway. With the right hue and application, a dash of color is sometimes all that is necessary, whether to demarcate different functions or to highlight specific parts of a watch.

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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver: This iteration of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver has a utilitarian slant that reinforces the collection’s tool watch DNA, beginning with a scratch-resistant case and bezel of black ceramic. A matching black dial maintains the serious vibes, while also adding a touch of class with its méga tapisserie guilloché – an Audemars Piguet signature. The crucial parts that divers rely on underwater have been highlighted orange here – the running second hand indicates that the watch is working, while the minute hand and 15-minute section of the inner bezel mark elapsed time underwater. (Price unavailable)

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Rado Hyperchrome Automatic Chronograph Court Collection: Blue-on-black isn’t the best combination for legibility, since the former doesn’t pop on the latter. Rado overcame this limitation on the Hyperchrome Automatic Chronograph Court Collection by finishing the watch’s dial with a subtle sunray texture, thus accentuating the contrast between the two colours. Blue wasn’t chosen frivolously – it represents the hard court surface tennis is played on, just like how its siblings’ orange and green accents mirror clay and grass courts respectively. An ETA 2894-2 chronograph movement drives the watch, encased in a monobloc black ceramic case with stainless steel inserts. ($6,170)

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Breitling Chronomat 44 Raven: Despite having a black dial encased in Breitling’s “black steel” case, the Chronomat 44 Raven is far from a stealthy watch. That isn’t a concern anyway, since the Raven is a pilot chronograph, which places a far higher premium on legibility. The latter is achieved by rendering the watch’s hands, indexes, bezel markings, and inner flange in bright orange, to make telling the time and using the chronograph a cinch. Of course, due attention has been paid to accuracy – the Raven packs Breitling’s chronometer-grade Calibre 01. ($13,840)

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Raymond Weil Freelancer: This self-winding chronograph maintains the classic, understated styling that’s central to Raymond Weil’s DNA, but asserts its masculine and sporty side with subtle detailing. Note the watch’s industrial look with the screw bolting down the small seconds sub-dial, or the altimeter-esque date window that recalls a flight instrument panel. Red highlights set against a black and steel dial complete the package – both visually and functionally – by distinguishing the chronograph function from the rest of the watch, right down to the tachymeter’s markings. ($4,330)

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Dial It Up

There’s nothing subtle about flooding the dial with a single vivid hue. Watches like these aren’t just easily recognised at a distance – they’re also bold statements that will be visible from across the room. Only the confident need apply.

 

Victorinox I.n.o.x. (pictured above): Built to mark the 130th anniversary of Victorinox, the I.N.O.X. (inox is French for stainless steel) is the timekeeping counterpart to the Swiss Army knives the brand manufactures, and meant to complement it as a “companion for life”. To that end, the watch had to pass a battery of 130 tests, including spending two hours in a washing machine and being driven over by a 64-ton tank. Numerous little details contribute to the watch’s toughness, from the slightly recessed sapphire crystal to having stamped – not applied – indexes. A simple, no-nonsense dial design emphasises the watch’s pedigree, with a blue dial and matching strap complementing this. ($719)

Luminox-2a

Luminox Scott Cassell UVP Special Edition: Luminox’s partnership with Scott Cassell continues with the UVP Special Edition. Part of this watch’s sales proceeds will go towards funding UVP (Undersea Voyager Project), a non-profit organisation founded by Cassell that is dedicated to ocean health. The watch’s 44mm case is made of carbon-reinforced polycarbonate, which imparts an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. A yellow dial with black hands and indices impart legibility, and a matching canvas strap completes the look. ($674.10)

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JeanRichard Aeroscope Arsenal: Arsenal Football Club’s fans can wear their hearts proudly on their wrists by donning the Aeroscope Arsenal, its official watch. The timepiece features the Gunners’ cannon in lieu of a hand for its small seconds sub-dial, and uses the club’s color liberally. Red is an extremely striking colour in and of itself. When paired with black, it pops even more to grab one’s attention. From the honeycombed dial to the tachymeter markings on the bezel to the pushers’ detailing, the color ensures the watch’s prominence. (Price unavailable)

Seiko---high-resa

Seiko Automatic Divers Watch: This is the revised version of the Seiko diver watch commonly (and reverently) referred to as the Orange Monster. The “second generation Orange Monster” updates the original in several areas, including new shark-tooth shaped indexes and a simplified chapter ring. Its 4R36 movement is arguably the biggest change – unlike the original, the new watch can now be both hacked and hand-wound. The new calibre retains Seiko’s bidirectional Magic Lever winding system for efficiency though. Despite the availability of other colorways for the watch, Seiko enthusiasts still consider the Orange Monster a rite of passage. Clearly, not all colors are created equal. ($593.90)

Mix & Match

Playful. Technical. Rebellious. Whimsical. Avant-garde. The design approaches in response to having a larger palette are as varied as the colors themselves. Results too, run the gamut from what are literally art pieces to serious, sporty watches.

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Hublot Classic Fusion Enamel Britto: Brazilian artist Romero Britto is known for his colorful works melding Cubism, pop art, and graffiti painting. His partnership with Hublot is of little wonder then, given the latter’s penchant for the “art of fusion”. The Classic Fusion Enamel Britto’s dial reproduces one of Britto’s artworks in miniature via grand feu enamel, with the 45mm Classic Fusion case in black ceramic serving as the painting’s frame. This timepiece is a 50-piece limited edition. ($59,700)

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Romain Jerome Pac-Man Level II 40 Colours: The landmark arcade game returns! This homage to Pac-Man comes complete with eight-bit renderings of the game’s titular character, his adversary ghosts, and the strawberry power-ups needed to defeat them. Although the background is a drab monotone, no attention to detail has been spared – the “stage” is three-layered, and each one has either been bead-blasted or straight-grained to contrast with the lacquered sprites mounted on the dial. Housed in a 40mm case, this reference has a limited run of just 20 pieces. ($24,800)

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Alexander Shorokhoff Miss Avantgarde: Words like “edgy” or “free-spirited” cannot adequately describe the Miss Avantgarde, what with its loud and flashy dial that uses color with seemingly no pattern. There is a method to Alexander Shorokhoff’s madness though. The time can actually be read easily as each design element is confined to a specific section of the watch. Colors have also been compartmentalized to avoid an overly busy dial, while the hands are white for maximum contrast. (Price unavailable)

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Graham Chronofighter Oversize GMT: The Chronofighter Oversize GMT has a busy dial with red, blue, and white accents on a background of black. This is mirrored on the watch’s exterior, with its massive 47mm case sporting an equally colorful combination of steel, red gold, and black PVD surfaces. Interestingly, the chronograph, large date, and GMT complications haven’t been sorted by color. Instead, every part of the watch takes on its specific hues for maximum contrast – note how the bezel uses red gold against blue while the main dial has white against black instead. ($16,400)

Material Play

Paints and coatings aren’t the be all and end all for achieving colours that pop in a watch. Materials that are inherently brightly colored can do the same, and lend their unique textures to boot. Stones, glass, and even liquids? Bring them all on.

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HYT H1 Azo Project: No, it isn’t kryptonite. The H1 Azo Project’s florescent case is made of azo polyepoxide, a resin with exceptional scratchproof properties despite being much lighter than comparable materials like steel. Its color is, of course, a perfect match for the liquids encased in the watch’s fluid module – one has been colored a darker shade of green, while the other remains transparent. The hours are then read off the tip of what looks like an advancing column of liquid. ($95,000)

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Hermès Arceau Millefiori: From straw marquetry to Japanese miniature painting on porcelain, Hermès has incorporated various crafts into watchmaking. The Arceau Millefiori focuses on glass art, specifically millefiori (a thousand flowers), where colored crystal canes are arranged to form various motifs before being sealed with transparent crystal. The technique is adapted here by cutting the finished product into thin slices and using them as dials. ($61,600)

Ulysse-Nardina

Ulysse Nardin Marine Perpetual: At first sight, the blue sapphires on the bezel are immediately apparent, and serve as the highlight of the Marine Perpetual. Upon closer inspection, however, the bezel itself is revealed to be atypical – it’s made of rubber, and the sapphires are set directly into it. The technique, dubbed “soft stone in the sky”, is revolutionary for setting gems in a soft material, and parallels the manufacture’s perpetual calendar movement, which allows forward and backward adjustments via just the crown. ($59,400)

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Bell & Ross BR 03 Red Radar: Bell & Ross’s timepieces are inspired by cockpit instruments but said instruments were never just confined to dials with hands and indexes. One outlier was the BR 03 Red Radar, which took the world by storm upon its release, and remains frequently cited as a milestone product for the brand. In lieu of hands, three black concentric discs are mounted to the movement, with a red mineral glass crystal sealing the watch. The result? A watch that displays the time like a radar screen. ($S$6,700)

 

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

Photography by Raymond Lee

Art direction and styling by Tok Wei Lun

Nelson Mandela watch Hublot

Nelson Mandela tribute watch from Hublot

Nelson Mandela watch Hublot

Hublot is celebrating the legacy of South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and political leader Nelson Mandela with a special-edition watch.

In collaboration with the House of Mandela foundation, the Swiss watch brand has unveiled the Classic Fusion House of Mandela watch.

The timepiece is crafted with 18k king gold, a red-gold alloy, and finished with a semi-matte black alligator strap. The 45mm case bears subtle tributes to Mandela throughout.

His signature appears on the bezel between 12 and 1 o’clock, and the dial features the Mandela family sigil, a bee with its wings outstretched into tree branches, representing the Mandela family tree.

Nelson Mandela watch

The bee is also a nod to Mandela’s Xhosa name, Rolihlahla, which means “he who is brave enough to fetch honey from the honeycomb”, a metaphor for challenging the status quo.

The outline of South Africa appears as a window to the watch’s inner mechanics on the caseback, atop which is Mandela’s handprint.

Part of the watch’s $30,900 price tag will be donated to the House of Mandela, an organisation dedicated to continuing Mandela’s human rights initiatives as well as supporting the education of underpriviliged South African children, though it might set some eyebrows furrowing from the disparity between flashy extravagence and a noble cause.

Via mens-folio.com – the watch can be purchased here.

Big Bang Unico

Hublot celebrates a decade of its Big Bang watch

 is coming to Baselworld with “Big Bang Unico 10 Ans Haute Joaillerie,” an exceptional anniversary collection honoring its famous watch. The line includes 10 high-end jewelry watches, each valued at $1 million.

DON’T MISS: HUBLOT $5 MILLION BIG BANG WATCH

Painstaking precision

Each of these pieces is the result of hundreds of hours of meticulous handiwork, particularly with regards to the setting of the gemstones using three different techniques: invisible, Clou de Paris and rail-effect.

The collection includes the first watch in Hublot history to feature a bezel with inverted trapezes in an invisible setting, as well as a dial with gemstones set in the subdials, hands and indices.

Big Bang Unico

There are four versions: the full black diamond model (653 baguette-cut black diamonds totaling 41.84cts), the full white diamond model (653 baguette-cut white diamonds totaling 40.02cts), the blue sapphire model (653 baguette-cut diamonds and baguette-cut blue sapphires totaling 40.41cts) and the ruby model (653 baguette-cut diamonds and baguette-cut rubies totaling 40.93cts).

Overall, each piece required 400 hours of research and manufacturing and 350 hours of gemstone setting work.

A chronograph movement by Hublot

On top of the high-end jewelry design, Hublot has equipped these special edition anniversary watches with state-of-the-art mechanics.

The Big Bang Unico 10 Ans Haute Joaillerie is powered by the HUB 1242 Unico, a self-winding chronograph movement designed and manufactured by Hublot, with a power reserve of 72 hours.

The timepiece has a 45mm grey gold case and comes with an interchangeable semi-matte black alligator strap.

Bar Rafaeli Hublot

Hublot names Bar Refaeli first female ambassador

Bar Rafaeli Hublot

Bar Refaeli has joined the ranks of ‘s celebrity-studded clique of brand ambassadors including Usain Bolt, Dwyane Wade and Pelé.

Speaking on Thursday night at the launch party, Refaeli said, “I’m excited to be the first female face for the Hublot brand. I’ve been a huge fan for many years and am so proud to be a part of the family now.”

Refaeli will front the Hublot’s ladies’ range, which features the sexy new lace-inspired Big Bang Broderie watch. With a skull lace pattern designed by Bischoff, on a dial studded with 11 diamonds and soft arabesques on the bezel and strap, the timepiece reflects a rebellious spirit coupled with the ancestral art of embroidery that is 100% Swiss made.

Big Bang Broderie watches

Fellow brand ambassador Dwyane Wade, who is in town for the 2015 NBA All Star Weekend, also attended the exclusive media event.

During the evening, Bar strutted the catwalk in a couture gown, made by Hublot partner Bischoff, the leading Maison Suisse lace house, in a nod to the launch of Hublot’s newest women’s timepiece collection — the Big Bang Broderie — done in collaboration with the storied firm.

WATCH: LANG LANG BECOMES A HUBLOT AMBASSADOR

Bar Rafaeli Hublot party

This year, the watch maker plans to focus on its female customers by offering ladies a series of new watch models that will embody the notion of the “Art of Fusion,” where innovation meets luxury and fashion.

Hublot’s new store at 743 Fifth Avenue in New York where Thursday night’s launch party was held will open to the public later this year.

Bar Refaeli and Dwyane Wade

Widely known for her fashion and swimwear work, Refaeli has previously fronted campaigns for fellow watch and jewelry brand PIAGET.

Lang Lang

Lang Lang becomes Hublot’s latest ambassador

This Friday, January 30, the Swiss luxury watchmaker announced renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang as its latest brand ambassador.

Particularly well-known in China and the US, Lang Lang is admired by music connoisseurs worldwide. So it is fitting that Hublot has named the 32-year-old pianist as its new global brand ambassador.

The watchmaker announced the news in Lang Lang’s hometown of Shenyang, China. So far, the Swiss brand has not yet revealed which watches the pianist will represent in future campaigns.

Lang Lang

However, one might reasonably speculate that Hublot will introduce a new watch with ties to the piano, or at least to music in general.

As a Hublot brand ambassador, the pianist joins an elite group consisting of a number of star athletes, including Pelé and Usain Bolt and celebrities such as Jet Li and Bar Refaeli.

Hublot reveals Big Bang World Poker Tour watch

Big Bang Unico World Poker Tour watch

Now the official timer of the World Poker Tour, the Swiss watchmaker is marking its tie-up with the prestigious international circuit with a wristwatch honoring the game: the Big Bang Unico World Poker Tour.

Designed for card players, of course, this timepiece borrows a number of details from the deck, including a bezel in 18K King Gold or steel (polished or sandblasted finish) with a heart, a club, a spade and a diamond.

With a diameter of 45.5mm, in 18K King Gold or in steel, the case houses a Unico automatic chronograph movement manufactured by .

Big Bang Unico World Poker Tour

Poker enthusiasts can take advantage of the model’s two sub-dials: a minutes counter at 3 o’clock and a running seconds counter at 9 o’clock. The date window is also at 3 o’clock.

The back of the watch reveals the World Poker Tour logo, a detail commemorating the brand’s partnership with the gaming event.

The Big Bang World Poker Tour is available in 2 limited editions: one with 100 watches in 18K King Gold and the other with 200 watches in steel.

Hublot Forbidden X Launch

Hublot ForbiddenX watch made with tobacco leaves

Hublot Forbidden X Launch

 has collaborated with cigar producer Arturo Fuente to create the Classic Fusion ForbiddenX, featuring a dial made with real tobacco leaves.

After introducing the King Power in 2012, Hublot and Arturo Fuente have reteamed to develop another original timepiece.

The Classic Fusion ForbiddenX’s dial is made with the same Dominican tobacco leaves that go into the cigar of the same name.

DON’T MISS: HUBLOT KING POWER “ARTURO FUENTE” WATCH

Classic Fusion ForbiddenX by Hublot

Aside from this unique feature, the watch has a 45mm case and a hand-wound chronograph movement.

Hublot designed four versions of the Classic Fusion ForbiddenX: one in titanium, another in black ceramic, one in “King Gold” and one exceptional luxury edition with a tourbillon movement.

The Hublot Classic Fusion ForbiddenX with Arturo Fuente is available in a very limited edition of just a few hundred watches.

Hublot Nation: Popping Up In Town For The Week

Hublot has a temporary pop-up store set up in Paragon Singapore from 16 to 22 September, to coincide with the F1 weekend. The association is unsurprisingly, given the brand’s partnership with Scuderia Ferrari. Apart from the usual range of watches, limited edition timepieces and the year’s novelties will also be available, as are the brand’s range of clocks, straps and collectibles. The store will be open daily from 10am to 9pm, at Paragon Singapore’s Atrium 2.  

Hublot Nation Popping Up In Town For The Week 2

hublot cowboys

Hublot signs up Dallas Cowboys as ambassadors

 has increased its already enviable presence in across the world of sport by signing up American Football legends, the Dallas Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys, also known as “America’s Team” because of its popularity in the 1970s, boast five Super Bowl Championships and sharing a record for having made the most appearances in the Super Bowl.

hublot cowboys

The swiss brand will mark the partnership with three custom, limited edition Dallas Cowboys-branded pieces featuring the team’s blue and silver colours.

The three timepieces include a 45mm Classic Fusion in titanium ($18,300), a 42mm women’s version in titanium and ceramic ($20,000), and a 48mm King Power in ceramic ($25,200).

Hublot Dallas Cowboys watch

Each watch features the famed Cowboy star can be found at 5 o’clock, to pay homage to the Cowboys five Super Bowl wins, while the woman’s piece boasts a star set in diamonds.

The watches will be sold exclusively at Hublot’s Dallas boutique and in a pop-up shop in the Cowboys’ Owner’s Lounge at AT&T Stadium.

Hublot King Power Dallas Cowboys

Through this partnership, Hublot solidifies its position with American sports fans. The Swiss brand were the first to invest in the NBA, through deals with the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hublot pays tribute to English football with the King Power 66 Hodgson

Late last month, Hublot released the King Power 66 Hodgson at its New Bond Street boutique in London. Created and named in honour of Roy Hodgson, the current manager of the England national football team, the watch is limited to 66 pieces and celebrates England’s World Cup victory in 1966. The watch’s genesis can be traced to Roy’s son Christopher, who also collaborated with Hublot in its design.

Hublot King Power 66 Hodgson

The King Power 66 Hodgson is equipped with the skeletonised, self-winding HUB4245 chronograph movement. True to its theme, the chronograph function comes with a twist – the chronograph hands have been moved to the centre, and whilst one reads the time and chronograph’s second hand counter via the outer track, the inner track meant for counting elapsed minutes has only 45 segments to correspond to the 45 minutes in one half of a football game. Small seconds at nine o’clock, a date window at four o’clock and Hodgson’s signature at three o’clock round out the black ruthenium-coated dial.

The watch’s case design mirrors its siblings from the King Power collection, is finished in black carbon fibre and measures 48mm wide. The colour scheme of red and white on black extends here too, with a black rubber crown flanked by red and white chronograph pushers on the right, and a miniature English flag on the left. Finally, the caseback itself is carbon fibre as well, with the English victory emblem.