We take a look at the best dressy gold watches released this year. Though in this strange year, there are probably not many (or none at all) parties to go to to wear nice dressy watches. Here is our pick of best 6.
The selection criteria is not strictly a plain dress gold watch. That list is for another day. But in this list, our picks are watches which sports a gold case, is somewhat dressy enough to be worn with a suit, and which we think must feature one or more horologically significant complication. Without further ado, we press on with the list! As usual, in no particular order.
We begin with the Berthoud. This is the long awaited round cased Berthoud, the first from the newly revived brand. At a glance, it looks like a rather traditional dressy watch which is perhaps a bit thick. But one would be making an incorrect assumption.
The FB2RE hides within its “thick” case, a movement equipped with a fusée-chain and a remontoir d’égalité, The chronometrie is exceptional, and Berthoud provides a significant amount of data to support.
The dial is in white enamel for the white gold case which is our pick. The other model which is available is in pink gold, and a black enamel dial. Both enamel dials are a two piece bombé (convex bulge) grande feu construction – an added complication and rather beautiful aesthetic.
The movement is fabulous, both the design and the final execution is exceptionally fine. The reverse fusée-chain, visible through the sapphire caseback is a sight to behold. The mechanism is complete with a planetary gearing system for maintaining power. And the simplicity of the remontoir d’égalité is also a thing of beauty.
The retail price of S$ 307,500 is an eye watering proposition, but we think it is perhaps not an unreasonable ransom, considering the attention to care and detail and level of finishing achieved.
One of our top favourite watches for the year. The Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1 is one of the most spectacular in our mind from this tiny manufacture in Le Locle. In this watch, Greubel Forsey has taken watchmaking to the limits – preserving the old artisanal work to completely make watches completely by hand.
Unlike many of the other so called handmade watches, the Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1 is almost completely made by hand (a figure of 95% is claimed) but also as importantly, it meets the rigorous standards of any “series” production Greubel Forsey in terms of precision, accuracy and consistency.
Six thousand hours of work. Hundred of thousands more in research, in trying and testing. And all would be for nought if the final result was plain. But the work, as presented in the Hand Made 1 is outstanding. Not only does it represent the highest level of a certain aesthetic. Though one can argue about aesthetics, by the way, we loved it, but one cannot argue with the values espoused and probably the best and highest end finishing ever lavished.
The asking price is CHF 1million. Yes, if this is the first time one has heard the price, take a moment for that to sink in. But we argue that this is not robbery. The Hand Made 1 is remarkable not only for what is it, but also for what it represents. The spirit of a watchmaking firm to resurrect age old crafts, and hone them to produce the most exquisite of the genre. This spirit alone is sufficient. And although most of us will never be able to afford a watch like this, as horology enthusiasts, this is a spirit which we all must admire as a triumph of watchmaking at the highest level. And thus, is priceless.
We have always had a soft spot for Vacheron Constantin. Particularly the minute repeaters have consistently stolen our hearts for years. But this year, the introduction of the Traditionelle Tourbillon Chronograph is the one which did the most damage.
The Traditionelle Tourbillon Chronograph uses the movement which was introduced in the Harmony series in 2016. This is the first in-house chronograph wristwatch movement from the maison, suitably fortified with a tourbillon.
And it certainly is a spectacular watch. The tourbillon, peeking out of its aperture on the dial at 12 o’clock gets us every single time. Drop dead gorgeous! The clean, dial with the monopusher chronograph, makes the second wave attack and the knees goes weak. Flip the watch over, and we go dizzy in admiration of the spectacle of the movement. Checkmate! If our credit cards had the financial chops (it doesn’t), it would instantly fling itself from our wallet and be swiped for the S$ 319,000 that VC is asking for the watch.
VC has pulled all the stops, and have achieved a very beautiful watch.
From the spectacular, we take refuge in the familiar. The Lange 1815 is a familiar face in our books. The basic design has been there almost at the start, being introduced in the guise of the Tourbillon Pour le Mérite launched in 1994. The design layout of the arabic numerals inside a railway track for the minutes with lance styled hands was apparent in this first rendition. But the simple time only model only came to be a year later, and in 1997, an Auf/Ab model was added. The early model was handwound, and had a subsidiary seconds hand at 6 o’clock.
Fast forward to 2020, and Lange introduced this Homage to F. A. Lange, the founder who was born in 1815, giving the model name of the collection. This is introduced in a subtle honey colored gold, a special gold alloy which is much harder than the others, and first seen in a Lange in
At 6.3 mm in height, the 1815 Thin is the slimmest watch in the 1815 family. Combine that slim profile with a diameter of only 38 mm and you have the dressiest 1815 reference in the collection. Coupled that with a grand feu enamel dial, and we have a winner.
The movement is the familiar 1815 Thin’s Caliber L093.1. Design development of the movement began in 1993, and is the same one used in the first 1815, but the seconds hand removed. However, as a Homage piece, it gets special treatment. Where there would usually be Glashütte ribbing is now frosted, similar to what can be found in some old Lange pocket watches by F. A. Lange. The engravings on the three-quarter plate are also blackened here instead of being filled with gold. Other decorative aspects of the movement, however, remain unchanged
In perspective, time-only watches are easy to produce but difficult to perfect. Due to their simplicity, any design or technical flaws are laid bare and magnified. Suffice to say, the 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange” is as close to perfect as it gets. It’s got the right proportions, a special case and dial, sublime finishing inside out, and a unique reason to exist: to mark the 175th birthday of A. Lange & Söhne. Of course, such excellence comes at a price: a hefty EUR32,200.
Hermè’s new Perpetual Calendar timepiece, the Slim d’Hermès Quantième Perpétuel is quite a fascinating take on the complication. As the brand ventures into deeper watch complication territory, the design house shows its flair with the stunning Arceau L’Heure De La Lune and this year, the Perpetual.
First off, this is a two tone watch – an interesting combination of beadblasted grade 5 titanium caseband and case-back is fit against a 18k yellow gold bezel, gold crown and pusher. Quite a beautiful contrast in materials. The slim case, we guessed 10mm (yes, we hear you, the next time, we will break out the vernier calipers…but in mitigation defence, the hands-on with the watch was done in the Hermès premises), makes for a comfortable fit on the wrist.
The dial layout is very nice indeed. The wealth of information needed for a perpetual calendar display is handled in a very legible and well laid out fashion. The mother of pearl moon in the display against the adventurine glass sky is particularly beautiful.
The movement is the ultra-thin Manufacture H1950 movement. Developed and manufactured by Vaucher for Hermès, the movement measures just 4mm thick – a 2.6mm base with 1.4mm module. Very impressive!
Overall, to us a very convincing package. And one which we think will be the leading torch for Hermès, as the maison forges along with mechanically interesting watches. The La Montre Hermès’ ambition, as stated to us in our conversation with CEO Laurent Dordet, started several years ago, and one which the maison is pursuing vigrouly, though in no particular hurry. As far as pricing goes, the asking is a rather reasonable S$ 46,320.
And we finally arrive at the last on the list, of which there is no particular order, so this position is of no particular importance. Here we have the controversial AP Code 11.58 Selfwinding Chronograph. First seen at the launch in 2019, and released this year in a series with magnificent smoked dials.
This gradient lacquered dial has garnered back some respect from the watch collecting community at large and among the cognoscenti watch media. A much needed grab of credentials, we think, after the debacle of the launch. The watch is now released in combination of case materials and a plethora of dial colors. Our pick is the one in the pink gold case and the dégradé blue dial.
The case is quite remarkable. Many naysayers often ignore the fact that this is a beautiful, well designed and well made case. The DNA elements of the octagon is hidden in the code of the case middle, which is sandwiched between the round, but very thin front and rear bezels. The lugs is hollowed out, and is a cantilever design which requires a level of manufacturing precision most can only dream of.
The watch sports the first chronograph movement to be fully developed in-house by AP – the Calibre 4401. The column wheel caliber is well designed and nicely finished. The bridges are endowed with Geneva waves while their edges are chamfered and polished. We’re also big fans of the skeletonised winding mass, which boasts multiple sharp inward and outward angles.
Priced at S$ 63,000 the AP Code 11.59 Chronograph strikes us as a rather good value, given that the premier chronographs from Lange, Patek, VC are all pitched at a higher pricing level.
The Code 11.59 is the brand’s attempt to breakaway from the Royal Oak and the stigma of being a one-trick pony is applaudable. To us, the significance of the Code 11.59 is that is is a bold move by AP to push the boundaries. A work in progress that is brimming with potential; once the right balance is struck (eventually), we may have ourselves a new icon in Audemars Piguet’s stable.
And there you have it. Our picks of six dressy gold watches. Only one which conforms to the traditional two handed, ultra slim watch in a sleek gold case. And five which goes against the grain perhaps. Three which are superlatively expensive to correspond to the magnificent level of workmanship achieved in the design and execution. And two which we think are supremely promising and may be the torch bearer for their respective brands.
What do you think? What are your picks?