Many a collector’s journey has begun with either shortlist built with the stellar reputation of the finest watchmakers in the land: Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet; Or they can begin with the best marketed brands: Rolex, Omega or Longines. Alternatively, they can simply be lured by the most complicated mechanisms. Either way, once the need for social validation or “look at me” contraptions have passed, the seasoned collector will start to develop a yearning for watches which define purity and simplicity. For this throwback sunday, we will be exploring the watches we have reviewed where its purist aesthetic was the key defining proposition.
Raul Pages’ Soberly Onyx
It is a dream for almost all watchmakers to create their own watch, and for Raul Pages’ Soberly Onyx, it is clearly demonstrative of a watchmaker’s calling in life – expressing time purely and legibly. Using Onyx and a vintage Cyma calibre, the the 3 hands Soberly Onyx is not just serious watchmaking but representative of what it means to have one watchmaker involved in every aspect of the watch’s creation.
For me, the most attractive quality is the dial featuring handmade 18k white gold frosted indexes with straight-grained flanks and polished beveling. The contrast of grain textures on mirror polished onyx imbues the watch with peerless classical elegance and for a heart beat, it appears as if there isn’t a subsidiary seconds hand when in fact it has been black polished and bevelled to the point of invisibility. Furthermore, it appears that its existence is a mere act of whimsy, running without second rails but it’s there, appearing when the requisite angle of light reveals the secret indexes.
The Credor Eichi II
With a name birthed from a portmanteau of the French crête d’or or crest of gold, the Credor Eichi II shares its legendary birthplace in the Seiko Micro Artist Studio where other great Japanese expressions of horology were created. The Credor Eichi II differs from its predecessor with more modern 39mm diameter dimensions and while this may dismay some classist collectors preferring a more gentlemanly 35mm, this change actually allows you to enjoy the in-house Japanese porcelain dial (the original Eichi dials were made byNoritake) to great detail.
While the dial might appear deceptively simple, there remains an impressive story to be told. Sitting in quiet refinement, the indexes themselves are handpainted, a task reserved only for fully qualified specialists, so painstaking is the task that only one dial can be completed in a day. The movement is executed atelier style, that is to say, by a singular watchmaker from start to finish and the finishing sets it apart from what you might see from a traditional Swiss high horology time only watch.
Moser Endeavor Concept
Deployant Correspondent Chester Lau says it best, “the Moser Endeavor Concept watch features a naked a dial with a clear aim, to return to the essentials of function. It tears away at frivolity. A watch with a dial stripped of its logo, branding and indices has only one purpose; to tell the time.”
Indeed, this is the primary reason why most seasoned collectors eventually fall in love with this genre of watchmaking – sans all distraction, watches which define purity and simplicity leave no sleeve for a watchmaking magician to hide flaws or use tricks of distraction. Cased in 18 K white gold, the 40mm Moser Endeavor Concept watch displays the fume dial in its purest form. It goes one further than the Soberly Onyx, no indexes, period.
Laurent Ferrier Galet Square
Sure, 80% of watches sold happen to be round but that doesn’t mean that a square is any less perfect in terms of geometry and symmetry. Here, the Laurent Ferrier Galet Square expresses purity and simplicity even with a sunburst decorated dial. The white gold “Assegai-shaped” hands complement the 3 white gold markers located at the 12, 3 and 9 o’clock positions. While subsidiary seconds at 6 compliment the general aesthetics of the dial with simple dot and baton second track.
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony 42mm
Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony collection assets the pure, restrained lines of the iconic Geneva manufacture and even with more contemporary 42mm proportions, it succeeds. Reflecting a minimalist design that combines taut lines with rounded curves in a pleasing aesthetic balance, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony 42mm differs from the other ultra-minimalist watches in this Throwback Sunday with strict adherence to classical watchmaking codes.
Dot and baton minute markers are punctuated by tapered arrow heads on a slate or white dial but the real fun begins when you notice the subtle concave effect of the crystal and dial with the minutes hand curving downwards to reduce parallax error for the user.
There’s a lot of beauty in restraint. One might opine that the classic curves of a Porsche 911 are more seductive than the “in your face” aggression of most modern sports cars. For myself, “less is best” design is a potent statement of personal philosophy in a world which has grown increasingly vulgar and gauche.
Editor’s Errata: In an earlier edition of this article, there was a mistake with the attributes of the Credor dial. The article has been updated to reflect the correct information. We apologise for any inconvenience.