Last week, we did a feature on some watches with unusual case shapes. In the article, we did cite that there were quite a few interesting watches that were created in between the 1990s and 2000s.
We decided to dive further from there and explore watches that were produced during that period. We think that there was sort of a “golden era” during that two decade, where watchmakers and manufacturers seemed to be more bold in their approach. There were also some interesting collaborations between luminaries within the industry, which yielded some rather interesting results. You might be able to recognise some of these watches in the article later.
For today’s article, we will be looking at some of our favourite watches that we have covered during that period. There are no specific criteria that we are looking at, but rather, we will be selecting watches based on a mixture of quality, horological value, as well as aesthetics. They are also discontinued, which makes them exclusive and more difficult to acquire.
So, what are some of our favourite watches from that era that we have selected? Let us find out!
Cartier Tortue Mono Poussoir Chronograph
There is just something about Cartier’s watches, especially the ones that comes with age. Not only are they stunning to look at, but there is just this something about them that makes the timepieces so special.
One of such pieces is the Cartier Tortue Mono Poussoir, from the famed “Collection Privée, Cartier Paris” (CPCP) series. The collection was launched in 1998 to showcase the brand’s prowess in the haute horlogerie space, and the Tortue Mono Poussoir certainly did not disappoint with its aesthetics and the impressive Calibre 45MC that was sourced from THA Ebauche – a company that was formed by the trio of master watchmakers Francois-Paul Journe, Denis Flageollet and Vianney Halter.
For serious collectors who love watches (especially Cartiers), the CPCP series is a treasure trove that one should seriously consider. The Tortue Mono Poussoir is a prime example of what Cartier is capable of producing, and we reckon it is a great alternative if one is willing to hunt and fork out for such timepieces.
Goldpfeil Vianney Halter
The Goldpfeil Vianney Halter is a timepiece that was borned from a special project that was initiated by Goldpfeil – a German luxury company – and seven members of Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI).
Amongst the seven watches, the piece by Vianney Halter is perhaps the most recognisable and popular one amongst collectors. It is possibly because it is one of the more interesting pieces that came out from the partnership, but also perhaps partially attributed to Vianney’s reputation as a brilliant watchmaker.
Vianney’s knack for creating unusual watches shows in this particular piece. This particular piece features a deconstructed layout, with 3 different apertures for time, date, and moonphase. To add the icing on the cake, the case is also stunning – especially with the hand-finished nail pattern and a curved side profile that adds character to this piece of art.
Even though it is more than two decades old, this Goldpfeil still looks rather fresh and stunning today. Perhaps it is Vianney’s magical touch, but then again, we can say the same for most of his wonderful creations. He certainly does live up to his reputation.
Harry Winston Opus 3
It is very rare that we feature two watches from the same watchmaker (arguably, in this case) in this column, and it takes a pair of really special watches to break this rule. The Opus 3, by Harry Winston, made this exception.
The Opus Collection is the brainchild of Max Büsser, when he was then the CEO of Harry Winston. The idea was simple: To collaborate with some of the top watchmakers to produce some of the most incredible timepieces that the world had ever seen. And boy, we were in for a treat.
The Opus 3, produced in collaboration with Vianney Halter, is one of the most intriguing timepieces that we have ever seen. Featuring 6 potholes, each of them came with an aperture to display numerals. The time display is read horizontally, from the extreme left column to the extreme right column. The top row reads the hours, and the bottom one reads the minute. The centre role – which displays the date – is read vertically. The party piece of the watch lies in the countdown timer, in which the centre-top counter will display the last 4 seconds (i.e. 56 seconds to 59 seconds) before the respective disc jumps to the next minute. The entire concept of a mechanical digital watch is so mind-boggling, and mechanically challenging, that it took 10 years for the watch to be produced and delivered to its 55 owners.
This watch is an example of the crazy timepieces that were produced back in the 1990s and 2000s. It is a work of art, and one that still amazes us even till this very day. If only we have more of such timepieces from watchmakers that were equally as bold…
A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret LOG Edition
The A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret, since its inception in 1994, did not really attain the traction that its brethren did. What a shame, though.
Cased in a slightly uncommon rectangular case, the Cabaret is an interesting timepiece that lives up to the brand’s name and reputation. Beneath the elegant watch is a solid rectangular-shaped Calibre L931.3, which was not a normal practice back then (and even till now) as many brands tend to take the shortcut and use a round movement for such cases instead. A. Lange & Söhne did not follow the norms, and had even gone above and beyond by lavishing the movement with haute horlogerie level of finishing. It is definitely a stunner inside out.
While it has been discontinued for quite some time, we reckon that the Cabaret is an interesting timepiece that has been highly under-appreciated throughout its short lifespan. It is definitely a piece for collectors to look out for, if one is searching for a classic that is a tad different from the others.
Patek Philippe Ref. 5101
Forget about the likes of Nautilus and Aquanaut. Patek Philippe is an accomplished watch manufacturer, and there are certainly more watches from the brand that deserve the sort of attention that the sports watches are currently receiving at today’s time and age.
The 10 Day Tourbillon, Reference 5101, is one of such timepieces that is relatively under the radar. The watch, featuring the “Gondolo” rectangular case, is a rather understated but delightful Art Deco piece. For the uninitiated, the watch comes with a tourbillon and also boasts a 10-day power reserve. The tourbillon is only visible via the exhibition case back, hence making it very discreet. The finishing is magnificent too; we expect nothing less from Patek Philippe. The entire package is simply sublime.
Although it is now discontinued, the Ref. 5101 can still be occasionally found at second-hand dealer sites with an estimated price of US$170,000 (approximately S$234,418) onwards. We like the air of quiet confidence about it – and for those who know, they will certainly recognise how extraordinary this timepiece is.
Philippe Dufour Simplicity
We round up today’s column with arguably one of the finest watches from one of the best watchmakers in the world: Philippe Dufour Simplicity.
The Simplicity pretty much needs no introduction. Introduced by the eponymous watchmaker in 2000, it was widely touted as one of the best timepieces in the world. That same claim stands even till today, despite the fact that we have seen numerous incredible watches being launched over the last two decades. The talent and passion of Philippe Dufour is unparalleled, and it certainly shows in his creations.
Cased in 34mm and 37mm, there are said to be only around 200-odd Simplicities in existence (inclusive of the 20th Anniversary edition that was specially produced last year). It is highly exclusive, and for good reason as well – it is extremely time-consuming and tedious to produce a single timepiece, considering the amount of work that goes into the production. The watch is literally in a league of its own, and we reckon it will hold this title for a long time to come.
It was not easy picking just six watches for this article. The period during the 1990s and 2000s indeed produced many great pieces, and we dare say that many watches that were crafted back then were even more interesting than most of the novelties in the past decade.
There is a certain charm to these watches. Be it in terms of looks or finishing, they are definitely special in their own ways. It is even more so for the highly unusual pieces, such as the Opus 3 or the Cabaret. We reckon most of the watches in the article will be highly sought-after in the future; in fact, some of them have already appreciated in value tremendously over the last few years. However, on this note, we will like to reiterate that one should not view watches solely as an appreciating asset, and that there is no guarantee that such an outcome will come to fruition.
Finally, we hope that you have enjoyed this week’s article. These pieces are certainly just the tip of the iceberg – and we might explore further installments to cover more of such watches from this era. Do let us know in the comments section below on your thoughts, as well as the genre of watches that you will like us to cover in the future. Ciao!