There are watches, and there are watches – our picks for this episode of Throwback Sunday is the latter. In the sea of horology, there are many iconic and important watches. Such pieces includes those which represents a new frontier in watchmaking, to downright design icons.
Thus, in this week’s episode of Throwback Sunday, we aim to help you narrow down the quintessential pieces every collector should own in their lifetime. Without further ado, let’s begin!
We kick things off with a horological icon: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.
First introduced in 1931, the Reverso was originally designed as a sports watch for polo players. Its reversible-case was stemmed from the idea that it would protect the vulnerable crystal from cracking or smashing during games – a simple yet elegant solution. This idiosyncratic design, combined with a stylish and chic rectangular case helped propel the Reverso to true cult classic status, and endures as a modern-classic that appeals to watch aficionados and connoisseurs.
While its aesthetics has remained mostly unchanged since its inception, many iterations of the Reverso from tourbillons to minute repeaters have spawned. However, a piece that we really like is the Grande Reverso Ultra-thin 1948. Its case height measures a mere 7.2mm, and, fitted with a brilliant white dial with contrasting blue hands and indices, the Ultra-thin 1948 is a charming piece that deserves a spot in any collection.
Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 VFA SBGH265
Next up, we have a piece built with a perfectionist mindset: the Grand Seiko VFA SBGH265. Review forthcoming.
Although Grand Seiko has been making watches since 1960, they were reserved solely for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM). It wasn’t until 2010 where they were distributed internationally. Despite its short international exposure, the brand has established itself as a symbol of watchmaking perfection, winning over the hearts of many collectors.
For our pick, we have chosen the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 VFA SBGH265 launched during Baselworld 2018. The watch coincides with the 20th anniversary of 9S: the caliber that drives all modern Grand Seiko mechanical timepieces, and 50 years of Grand Seiko Hi-Beat movements. To mark both momentous occasions, no expenses were spared with the timepiece sporting a case handcrafted in solid platinum. And, its 9S85 “VFA” movement has been adjusted to achieve an impressive accuracy of +3/-1 seconds per day.
Perhaps the most stunning aspect is its dial. Grand Seiko has carved out a reputation for extraordinary dials such as the “Snowflake”. Likewise, the SBGH265 features an intricate white spiral-pattern dial which incorporates the letters of the GS logo, as well as a “lightning bolt” symbol: the mark used to denote watches made by Daini Seikosha – creators of the first hi-beat movements.
The SBGH265 is limited to 20 pieces and retails at USD53,000. While being one of our pricier picks, we reckon its impeccable Zaratsu polishing and remarkable engineering will take anyone’s breaths away.
A. Lange & Sönhe Lange 1 Moonphase
When it comes to haute horlogerie watches, A. Lange & Sönhe dishes up some of the finest in the industry. Its flagship collection, the Lange 1, are timepieces of remarkable beauty and everlasting style.
What makes the Lange 1 so iconic is its perfectly-balanced off-centred dial: a asymmetric design that appears symmetrical to the eye. One of our favourite variants is the Lange 1 Moonphase. From a practicality standpoint, a moonphase feature has no benefits (it might be more accurate to determine the phase of the moon by looking up at the night sky). In fact, it is touted as the most romantic yet useless horological complication. However, the moonphase indicator on the Lange 1 Moonphase serves a functional aspect as it doubles up as a day and night indicator.
The watch is powered by the 438-part caliber L121.3 – a movement based on the L121.2 in the standard Lange 1. As a result, it features a 3-days power reserve with instantaneous date. Its finishing is, as we’ve come to expect with all Lange timepieces, simply superlative with impeccable attention to detail.
The Lange 1 Moonphase is testament to the art of fine watchmaking, and is a well-coveted piece by all collectors. It is available in three variants, with prices starting at €39,500 for a pink/white gold version and €52,000 for the platinum piece.
Breguet Marine Chronograph 5527
As inventors of the wristwatch, Breguet is often overlooked by collectors despite its distinguished history and achievements.
Launched during Baselworld 2018, the new Marine Chronograph ref. 5527 (full review coming) has been well-received by many collectors and connoisseurs. Its striking and beautiful “wave” motif dial is well executed and provides an update to the traditionalist design of Breguet timepieces. Coupled with a water resistance rating of 100 meters, the Marine makes for a versatile yet elegant sports watch.
The Breguet Marine Chronograph 5527 measures 42mm in diameter and is equipped with the in-house 582QA caliber. With a sticker price of USD 22,600 for titanium and USD 33,800 for 18K white/rose gold, we reckon the timepiece would make a really nice addition to any collection.
H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Perpetual Calendar
Well-known for injecting a sense of humor in an otherwise serious world of watchmaking, H. Moser & Cie takes a different perspective when designing their watches and balances simplicity with functionality.
One example that follows this cue is the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar. Its design is so deceptively simple that, at first glance, one might not recognise the full functionality of the watch. In terms of execution, the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar is least to say innovative and brilliant: the date is indicated via a large and highly legible window, with months being represented via a small hand on the centre of the watch. All that is required, is displayed, resulting in an uncluttered and clean dial. To top it off, the watch is beautifully finished with haute horologerie attention to detail.
But, the highlight of the piece lies in its flash calendar: unlike a conventional QP, the date on the Moser changes instantly at midnight to show 1, irregardless of month. As a result, the calendar can be adjusted back and forth and at any time of the day, without damaging the mechanism.
Since its launch in 2006, the watch has been well-received and acclaimed by collectors. In fact, it caught the entire industry by surprise with its avant-garde aesthetics and timeless design. The timepiece starts at USD 52,000 in black titanium, with a white and rose gold version priced at USD 60,000. Finally, a platinium version is available for USD 70,000.
Rolex GMT-Master II
What would a collection be without a Rolex? Refined yet rugged, they epitomise the idea of a do-it-all timepiece. Thus, we round off this article with the tool watch: the Rolex GMT-Master II.
Originally designed for pilots, the GMT-Master gained popularity thanks to its blend of aesthetics and functionality. The latest iteration unveiled during Baselworld 2018, ref. 126710 BLRO, has likewise proven to be a huge success with the re-introduction of the ever-popular “Pepsi” bezel and a first for the ceramic series, a jubilee bracelet. This gives the watch a nostalgic charm which we feel was perhaps missing from other versions. For more information, please see our in-depth technical review here.
The new watch is equipped with the caliber 3285: an all-new in-house movement boasting an impressive 70-hours power reserve. And, that goes without mentioning its Superlative Chronometer certification, which guarantees an accuracy of +/- 2 seconds per day.
The Rolex GMT-Master II is arguably the most iconic watch of the lot, featuring a timeless design fused with its beautifully executed bi-colour ceramic bezel. Priced at SGD 12,430, we reckon its an excellent timepiece for any situation.
For this week’s Throwback Sunday, we have shared six different watches which we reckon any watch collector or enthusiast should own at least once in their lifetime. Have we missed some? Of course! This is not an exhaustive list. No doubt, there are more iconic pieces in the sea of horology such as the Patek Philippe Ref.5711, and of course, Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak.
There is no contest that the Royal Oak was the original game-changer, as it was the first luxury sports-watch. Designed by Gerald Genta during an era when Audemars Piguet was in financial difficulties, the Royal Oak was the timepiece which saved the company, and served as the inspiration for all other sports-watches. Thus, we believe that the Royal Oak should be an indispensable piece for any collection, in addition to the aforementioned.
So, what are your thoughts on our selection? Is there a piece which you feel deserves a spot on our list? Let us know in the comments section below!