Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Top 5 Watch Partnerships 2016

Collaborations old and new can yield interesting results ranging from unorthodox materials to unprecedented designs

Jul 10, 2016 | By Jamie Tan

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.

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