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Throwback Sundays: Six Recommendations for a High-End Time-Only Dress Watch, from Our Archives

So, who is the best?
by Robin Lim on October 22, 2017

A timepiece is always something that is worthy to commemorate an occasion, especially if it is very much worth celebrating for. Such occasions can include a milestone in life’s journey, a job promotion, or even the birth of a new child.

Following Frank’s comparison article between the A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin 37mm and the Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5119, we thought that it would be interesting to revisit the category of time-only dress watches again. This time, we will instead feature six different watches from the genre, with a focus on high-end luxury piece. After all, one would probably look to buy one of such timepieces at certain milestones in their life. And of course, we are here to help to make an informed decision. Let’s find out what we have selected this time!

 

Jaeger LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra-thin 1948

 

The Jaeger LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra-thin 1948, with its iconic reversible case.

 

We begin the article with one of the most iconic timepieces from Jaeger LeCoultre: the Reverso.

Back in the 1930s, the Reverso was created for a simple reason – to prevent polo players from accidentally smashing the watch’s glass during a match. The unique reversible case had then gone on to create a name for itself, and the rest as they said is history.

Over the years, many iterations of the Reverso were produced. One particular one that stands out is the Grande Reverso Ultra-thin 1948. Besides the contrasting white textured dial with blue hands and indices, what sealed the deal for us is the dimension of the watch itself. The Grand Taille size is perfect, and its thickness of a mere 7.2mm makes it a rather comfortable watch to wear on the wrist. It is rather discreet and elegant, and yet a tad less “boring” than the other usual options available.

This particular piece is a special boutique edition timepiece, and it is priced at US$9,450 (approximately S$12,860).

 

A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin 37mm

 

A pair of the new 37mm Saxonia Thin. A very discreet, but wonderfully made dress watch.

 

Next up, we have the inspiration behind today’s article. Cue the A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin 37mm.

The Saxonia collection is the entry-level piece in the A. Lange & Söhne family, but do not let that fool you. It is a well-known fact that A. Lange & Söhne is one of the finest watch manufacturer in Germany (and perhaps, in the world), and the quality of the Saxonia is a testament to that. For instance, the finishing of the 167-part, 21-jewel Calibre L093.1 is simply superlative. The movement features some of the usual high-end touches, such as the Glashütte ribbing, anglage, and blued screws. But what makes it even more special is its engraved balance cock, which is done by free-hand from one of the six master engravers that are under their payroll. It is simply sublime.

As the name suggests, the timepiece is 37mm in diameter. In addition, with a thickness of 5.9mm, the Saxonia Thin is in fact a very comfortable watch to wear as well. The size is rather perfect for a gentleman – especially one who intends to pair it with formal office wear. Priced at S$21,300 in gold, we truly think that the Saxonia Thin 37mm is worth a serious consideration in this category.

 

H. Moser & Cie. Concept Watch Fumé

 

The H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Concept Watch. Simplicity at its finest.

 

When it comes to watches from H. Moser & Cie., the company tends to take a different perspective from many other watch manufacturers. In fact, the Swiss-based watchmaker is known to produce watches with a minimalist concept – most notably for its perpetual calendar collection. In fact, the simple Endeavour Perpetual Calendar is so well-received that it (or rather, the original Perpetual 1) had won the GPHG back in 2006.

Besides the simple and clean design, the other thing that H. Moser & Cie. is famous for is its fumé dial. With that in mind, the watch manufacturer actually went a step further, by creating the most minimalist watch ever – so much so that it is completely devoid of any markings or branding on the watch itself. Named the Endeavour Concept Watch, the timepiece is stripped of any of its frivolity and does what it is supposed to do – and that is to tell time.

The 40.8mm timepiece is not only brilliant in its concept, but in terms of the execution as well. With the extremely clean dial, the focus is now placed on the stunning fumé dial, which in itself is a sight to behold. On the other side, no expense is spared in the finishing of the Calibre HMC 343 movement as well. The 7-day power reserve timepiece is nicely decorated, and the manual-winding timepiece also features the trademark interchangeable escapement module. The Endeavour Concept Watch is available in 4 different options, with each limited to a production of 10 pieces. The watch is cased in 18K white or yellow gold, and it is priced at CHF22,000 (approximately S$30,420). It might be an unusual option, but it is definitely a refreshing change for someone who is looking for an uncommon dress watch with an interesting touch.

 

Breguet Classique 7147

 

The Breguet Classique 7147, with a beautiful enamel dial.

 

When it comes to watches in the high-end category, Breguet is often overlooked by many collectors. The bulk of the interest have always revolved around the holy trinity brands, although in recent times manufacturers such as A. Lange & Söhne have slowly attained its fair share of acknowledgement as well.

Although Breguet is a brand that is not as often mentioned, but they have always been producing rather excellent watches over the years. In this year’s Baselworld, the brand has launched a rather enchanting dress watch in the Classique collection: the 7147. The 7147 is a quintessential Breguet piece, featuring its signature touches such as the “Breguet-styled” hands and numerals, fluted coin-edge case, and the welded lugs with screw bars. But what sets this apart from the rest of the watches in the collection is the dial. This piece is fitted with a grand feu enamel dial, which gives it a rather pure white appearance. Another noteworthy point is the sub-seconds dial at the 5 o’clock position, in which it is marked with a slight depression. This effect gives the sub-seconds dial a smooth transition, thus making it rather discreet and non-obtrusive. Very very cool.

Powered by Breguet’s self-winding Calibre 502.3SD, the 35-jewel movement boasts a decent power reserve of 45 hours. It is appropriately finished as well, which adds a nice touch to the timepiece. The 40mm is notably available in either rose gold or white gold, and they are priced at US$21,500 (approximately S$29,260) and US$21,000 (approximately S$28,580) respectively.

 

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony 42mm

 

A trio of Patrimony, from Vacheron Constantin.

 

Vacheron Constantin is a brand that we have a soft spot for. The Geneva-based watch manufacturer is known to produce rather nice timepieces, although the brand had been overshadowed by their counterparts at the very top of traditional Swiss watchmaking.

Besides the wildly-popular Overseas which was relaunched last year, the Patrimony is perhaps one of their best-selling models as well. The collection, which features a myriad of complications and dial designs, asserts both form and functionality in its construction. The base model Patrimony, with the small seconds at the 6 o’clock position, is our pick for this article. The 42mm watch is sized slightly larger to cater to the demands of customers, but it nonetheless kept the watch very simple and clean.

Driven by the manual-winding Caliber 4400 AS, the Patrimony boasts a power reserve of approximately 65 hours. The finishing is as per haute horlogerie standards, and it also features the Hallmark of Geneva seal that testifies the quality of the timepiece. The watch is available in three different variants: pink gold, white gold, and platinum. Prices begin at US$27,500 (approximately S$37,430).

 

Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5119

 

The benchmark for all dress watches.

 

Finally, we round up the article with the Patek Philippe Calatrava.

Patek Philippe is perhaps one of the most well-known watch manufacturer in the world, and it is inevitable that they are often used as a benchmark to see how they stack up against the other competitors. The Calatrava, for instance, is often compared to the other dress watches from the high-end category. Incidentally, the fact that it is on this list also gives us the room to compare it with the other watches that we have selected as well.

This particular Calatrava – the Reference 5119 – has an evocative old-school charm to it. The 36mm timepiece is very elegant in size, with a classic white dial that contrasts with the black roman numerals nicely. It is further accentuated by the yellow gold case, which features a nice “Clous de Paris” hobnail pattern on the bezel. The overall design is pretty much on point, if you are seeking for a classic dress watch.

The watch is fitted with Patek Philippe’s Calibre 215 PS. It is a manual-winding movement, with a power reserve of around 44 hours. The layout of the movement is pretty much based on those that was on old-school pocket watches, and it is fairly well-finished with a good amount of bevelling and polishing. It is priced at S$29,000, and we reckon it is probably fair value for a well-made timepiece with such a rich heritage.

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

On the surface, the watches are pretty much similar to one another. Yet, they are so different. Albeit they are all time-only pieces, but there are so many different iterations in terms of its design and aesthetics. And that is truly the beauty of watches.

We think that besides its aesthetics, another two main differentiating factors would be the price point and finishing of the watch. With so many things in common, especially in terms of its function, these are the factors that will affect the collectors’ decisions. While there is usually a positive relationship between price and finishing, but there are times when some watches can have exceptional finishing, and they are yet priced rather reasonably. The Saxonia Thin 37mm, for instance, is one of the timepieces that stood out in this aspect.

So, what are your thoughts on our selection? Which are some of the pieces that you reckon deserve a spot on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

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