Sharing thoughts of haute horlogerie over hot cocoa is a time honoured tradition amongst my friends. This season, my Dear Santa Christmas Wishlist has grown wiser but no less “unattainable” (at least relative to this humble journalist’s pay grade). Nevertheless Christmas Wishlists are less about reality and more about fantasy fulfilment and they’re very much an effective way of refining your tastes and philosophies as a collector (not to mention a great if passive aggressive way of leaving very large hints to friends who might collectively get you the best Christmas 2016 gift ever!)
Executive Editor’s Christmas Wishlist
Tudor Black Bay Dark
Arguably one of the most attainable, the Tudor Black Bay Dark is the official answer to the many Bamford, Blaken and Project X black DLC submariners which caused a big splash (in both positive and negative ways) in the collecting community in the early 2000s. Shunned by purists for not being official Rolex productions, beloved by some collectors for taking the sex appeal of your traditional Rolex Submariner and taking their passions to a darker turn (pun intended), the Tudor Black Bay Dark was the Wilsdorf Foundation’s salve for a hunger which had yet to be satiated. The faithful could finally slake their lust and the heathen could finally return to the fold, the Tudor Black Bay Dark was everything a fan of the crown could embrace.
Equipped with the new in-house movement MT5602, the Black Bay Dark features a large crown sans crown guards, reminiscent of 1958’s Tudor 7924 and of course, the even auction favourite Rolex Ref 6100 with “big crown” as well. Black PVD coated, the 41mm matt finished tool watch is at once both subtle while delivering wrist presence. Snowflake rather Mercedes hands clearly delineate this piece from Tudor and reference its history as watch suppliers to the French National Navy in the 70s. While some might prefer the distressed leather, the black PVD bracelet is where I feel the Tudor Black Bay Dark shines best. 70 hour running, COSC certified movement for S$5800? It’s a clear winner on my Christmas wishlist.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph
It’s not the most obvious chronograph to desire but it’s one which comes in a post-modernist angular case with unique Maltese cross inspired bezel (and with it the kind of cool pioneered by the Royal Oak) but bearing a manufacture chronograph calibre – what’s there not to love about the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph?
42mm, large-ish if dressy chronograph is surprisingly water resistant up to 150m thanks to it’s screw down crown and quarter turn lock/unlock chronograph pushers which on its sporty competitors tend to be fussy screw down pushers which renders operation of its timing functions impractical. More importantly, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph bears the new in-house manufacture movement, a big deal considering that Vacheron Constantin has been using the VC 1137 calibre for decades; this is the sort of pivotal milestone which could determine a premium on its future auction value (if history vindicates the technical excellence of the 5500V where most other maisons are still content with modifying the F.Piguet 1185 movement). Easily changed straps from sporty rubber-silicone to elegant metal bracelet makes for a compelling luxury chronograph with no clear competitor with similar functionality and aesthetics.
Montblanc Orbis Terrarum
Jerome Lambert has a “midas touch” when it comes to watch brands under his care and Montblanc is no different. The elegance and deft adherence to classic watchmaking is best exemplified in the Montblanc Orbis Terrarum.
While it’s not diminutive at 43mm, the biggest draw for such a classic gentlemen’s watch happens to be the construction of the dial, displaying the continents as viewed from the North Pole and made of several layers, giving the artisanal map a realistic look.
While the Montblanc Orbis Terrarum is not inexpensive, the use of a base Sellita movement with in-house world-time module makes it more affordable than other competing world-timers on the market today. As far as stocking stuffing goes, the 4810 Orbis Terrarum is still possible if enough loved ones and friends pool their resources together… Just saying, it’s on my Christmas wishlist. Price: S$ 9200
Chopard LUC Time Traveller One
Where the Montblanc Orbis Terrarum is lovingly rendered with pure artistry, the Chopard LUC Time Traveller One joins my Christmas wishlist for tickling my desire for history and provenance. With origins dating back to a Louis Cottier blueprint for Patek in the 1930s, the Chopard LUC Time Traveller One is a new interpretation of that innovative calibre which could tell time in a number of major international cities across the globe. Operated by 2 crowns, the LUC Time Traveller One displays 24 timezones in three attractive iterations of varying colour themes – the platinum with serious slate grey dial, the rose gold with the refined opaline dial perfect for the office and my personal Dear Santa Wishlist occupant – the stainless steel with dark dial and playful orange accents.
God is in the details and Chopard LUC Time Traveller One is clearly divine right down to the subtle, blink and you’ll miss it, raised relief motif for the international globe symbol denoting the crown at four for world time adjustment and the LUC crown at two o’clock for regular watch operations. The dial might seem overly cluttered to some but for me, it’s devilishly Bond-worthy – smart concentric layers add depth to the watchface while a large 24-hour graduated ring works in tandem with the cities disc, demonstrating 24 main time zones with useful colour coding to demarcate day and night for those not GMT familiar (or mathematically inclined) – a lot of information is displayed but Santa needs only set the watch once. Once synchronised to local time via the four o’clock crown, no further adjustment is needed. All that’s left is for Dear Santa to pop this baby under my tree (right next to my wife’s turquoise gift box). Price: S$ 18,360
Bulgari Octo Finisimo Tourbillon
Ultra-thin tourbillons were all the rage last year (2015) and the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon acquits itself by being the thinnest of them all at a mere 5mm. The cynic may say, “Dear Santa, no tourbillons, everyone has tourbillons now.” But I say, “Nay, dear Santa, I’d love me some tourbillons from Bulgari.” Here’s why:
Its unprecedented thinness in the 249 manufacture calibre comes from the innovative use of ball bearings in positions which are typically occupied by other assorted components. As a result, the architectural foundations allow the calibre to match the height of the tourbillon cage itself, thus the movement is a mere 1.95mm thin. While the tourbillon is widely considered to be a complication, few consider the art of ultra-thin mechanisms to be in the same category but I disagree – miniaturisation while accounting for stresses and ever diminutive tolerances is a complicated art in itself.
Furthermore, it’s no ordinary tourbillon, at least it’s not like the tourbillons which most other maisons today endeavour to master, for the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, almost the entirety of the balance wheel regulating system is altered and the tourbillon itself sits on atom sized ball bearings rather than your standard pivot.
A classical complication in an avant garde multi-faceted case? The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon is what some watch lovers would refer to as a “lady in the streets but a freak in the sheets” – to outsiders, she looks and appears like your chaste if dressy tourbillon timepiece. But you alone know her secrets. Price: S$164,000