Four of Baselworld’s Opulent Wonder Watches
Fans flock to luxury timepieces at the Swiss watch show.
The Baselworld show is the largest of the annual Swiss watch shows, and if this quartet of over-the-top mechanical wonders are any indication, the year ahead will be highlighted by luxury for high-end timepiece fans.
In a year that has featured primarily a selection of more accessible, more commercial timepiece offerings, some of the manufacturers at the recent Baselword show have planted their feet firmly in richer soil. Uniqueness, out-of-the-box design and precious materials hallmark these rare, of-the-moment objects.
Harry Winston Precious Signature
While this impressive desk clock objet d’art from Harry Winston is rendered in gleaming white gold and Zalium, is swathed in precious blue opals and diamonds, and features an elegant timepiece on its left side, the real marvel of the Precious Signature doesn’t have much to do with jewelry or time-keeping at all. Select the pusher on the lower left and a metal arms pops out of the bottom. Slide out the jeweled and specially-weighted pen and connect it to the arm. Then activate the special mechanism, and the device perfectly and deftly replicates your signature on paper. Owners submit their authentic signature to Harry Winston (in any alphabet, and, in fact, the device can reproduce any words or even a sketch or line drawing if so desired) and artisans take measurements to craft customized cam mechanisms that guide the pen across the page automatically. Perfect for the modern day robber baron or Bond villain, the Precious Signature was co-developed with watchmaker and heritage automaton house Jacquet Droz. Price available on request, harrywinston.com
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic
The House of Bulgari’s superb watch-making arm has made a name for itself recently with a series of world records for slender timepieces. Now, with the debut of this 3.95mm thick watch, Bulgari scores its fourth world record, for the world’s thinnest tourbillon wristwatch. Proving you can never be too rich, or too thin, the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic is based on a wafer-thin 1.95mm automatic movement with a 52-hour power reserve as well as the visual drama of the gravity fighting tourbillon spinner at 6 o’clock. To slim things down even more, designers chose to house this marvel in super lightweight titanium, as well. Limited to 50 pieces, $118,000, bulgari.com
deGrisogono New Retro Double Jeu
In a rare-for-ladies, elongated rectangular case execution, the New Retro Double Jeu presents an off-beat, Deco-referencing, yet thoroughly modern option for a bejeweled evening timepiece. While, in fact, based on a quartz movement for accuracy, the half-moon oscillating weight at the bottom on the back of the watch is what draws the eye and powers a unique function: When the weight performs one rotation, the diamond-encrusted 9 and 3 on either side of the watch face flip to reveal contrasting color jeweled version of the same numbers, with the flick of a wrist. Seen here in pink gold and a white galuchat leather strap, the New Retro Double Jeu features a total of 4.3 carats of diamonds. Price available on request, degrisogono.com
Breguet Reine de Naples 8908
Most watch experts agree that the first true “wristwatch” was the Reine de Naples created between 1810 and 1812 by Breguet founder Abraham-Louis Breguet for Caroline Murat, Napolean’s sister and the Queen of Naples. At the time, the thin, wrist-worn timepiece was considered something of an interesting and off-the-wall novelty. In this latest ode to that original timepiece, heritage rose gold, Tahitian mother of pearl and diamonds collaborate to deliver an unwaveringly elegant watch that also sports some enviable horological chops: a whimsical moon phase, sweeping retrograde power reserve indicator, offset main dial, small seconds indicator at 7 o’clock, and a ruby cabochon-set crown at 5 o’clock. Just as fit for modern royalty is it was when first crafted in the early 19th century. Price available on request, breguet.com.