The watch industry is rather intriguing, to say the least. It is always fascinating to think about how the combination of gears and springs could actually allow one to tell the time, at a specific instance. A watch does not really tell time, strictly speaking. It merely is a device which keeps a good tempo, which we attach indicators which allow us to tell the passage of time. It is usually perceived that a watch will require at least a hand (or two) and a dial to carry out its function in proper. But not always. While many watchmakers choose to use the usual manner (of using both the hands and dial) to display the time on their watches, there are also some who are non-conformists and have tried creative methods. We look at six of these watches today, each with an unusual way of telling time.
First up, we have the latest from SEVENFRIDAY: the V-Series. The V-Series is the latest novelty from this interesting watchmaker, after their successful launch of both the P- and the M-Series.
When SEVENFRIDAY first launched the P-Series, it was met with roaring success. This is despite the fact that the watches are not Swiss made which they proclaim it boldly on the case backs, do not have a long tradition or history as they were new upstarts, and did not use classical distribution and advertising but relied on the power of social media. In a recent conversation with the founder, Mr Daniel Niederer, and he reckons the success was due to the watches’ aesthetics, as well as its interesting interpretation of telling time. The same ethos was applied to the V-Series, as it did to the M-Series and the P-Series.
When we first took a glance at the V-Series, we were a little confused. The V-Series is definitely much more convoluted and reading the time more unintuitive than than its two predecessors. The dial, as seen in the above picture, is disruptive: it only goes up to 4 o’clock. How to display the 12 hours typical in a dial? This is where the rotatable disc in the middle comes into play. This disc is marked 0+, 4+, and 8+. As the disc turns, it corresponds to one of the 1-4 markers, and the sum of te indicator on the disc and the marker on the dial says the hour of the day. So, in the above example, the 4+ is positioned at the 1 o’clock region, and henceforth it indicates that the time is currently 5 o’clock. The minute hand turns 360°, just like any other conventional watches. The seconds hand also employs the same technique that was used to indicate the hours. So, for the above example, the time that is indicated would be 05:11:24.
While the SEVENFRIDAY V-Series may take some time to get used to, it is a refreshing way to interpret time. Plus other interesting features like the NFC Technology and the Fast Strap Change Mechanism makes it a rather conversational timepiece. Read our full review to discover the watch.
Next, we have yet another young and interesting watch manufacturer that prides itself in being innovative and distinctive. The manufacturer in question is none other than Hautlence, and its latest novelty from the “Concepts d’Exception” is also something that is rather spectacular to behold.
The Vortex is one of Hautlence’s latest creations, and it is part of the “Concepts d’Exception” collection. The collection focuses on watches that are developed with a creative touch. This is where the Vortex fits into the criteria. The watch, firstly, features a spectacular angular case design. We were told that it was was inspired by post-modern architecture and the concept of deconstruction, which we reckon adds a nice touch to this timepiece. Next, the watch tells time in a rather engaging fashion. The watch features a retrograde minute hand, as well as the half-trailing hours complication. The half-trailing hours is an ingenious creation, as it allows the hour display to remain stationary until the retrograde minutes hand springs back to 0 (once it hits the 60 minutes mark). The switch-over of the hour indicator takes around 3-4 seconds. The process is actually quite mesmerizing, as with the switching of the hour display, the entire escapement, mounted on a platform does a turn as well.
While the watch is quite large, but feels rather comfortable on the wrist. The legibility is excellent too, since both the minute and hour indicators are rather large.
Romain Jerome Subcraft/ Spacecraft
When we were first introduced to the Romain Jerome Spacecraft back in 2013, we were thrilled. It was not just its fascinating aesthetics that caught our eyes; we were also undoubtedly engaged by its linear retrograde hours, as well as how the various indicators were integrated seamlessly into the watch case.
Fast forward two years later, Alain Silberstein had an epiphany. He thought that the Spacecraft, although spectacular, looked a little too angular. He expressed this to Romain Jerome CEO Manual Emch, and this led to a collaboration. And that was how the Subcraft was born. The watch was based on the Spacecraft all it edges and surfaces smoothed out. The result is equally as amazing, as it totally changed the characteristics and identity of the watch. It feels very organic, and the case certainly reminds us of a well-rounded piece of pebble.
The Subcraft is powered by the Jean-Marc Wiederrecht designed Caliber RJ2000-A, which is the same movement that is found in Spacecraft. The self-winding movement features a power reserve of approximately 38 hours, and it features the same gripping linear retrograde jumping hours function that made its predecessor an icon among collectors.
To be honest, it is difficult to choose between the Subcraft or the Spacecraft. These two watches are captivating, and they are certainly appealing in their own ways. So for one is looking for a fun and distinctive timepiece that tells time extraordinarily, then we reckon that either one would fit the bill without a shadow of doubt.
Next up, we have something from the Hydro Mechanical Horologists: HYT. The watchmaker is well-known for utilizing fluids in tubes to tell time, which is a novel and totally unique. While the H1 and H2 found success with many collectors, HYT pushed the boundaries further with another timekeeper: the H3.
The H3, in the words of HYT, is a distinctively different watch from its predecessor. While it features its signature fluid tube display, but it comes with an interesting twist. For the H3, the watch is fitted with a linear fluid display, which is more difficult to design and manufacture. On top of that, the H3 is also fitted with a retrograde minute display at the bottom right side of the watch, as well as a rotatable dial which rotates its face once every 6 hours (as each face displays only 6 hours). All the displays are hydraulically powered. A more comprehensive explanation of the H3’s functions can be found in this article.
Besides its technical prowess, the H3 is also a stunning watch to behold. We love how the various functions are incorporated into the watch face seamless, especially since each and every of the functions play a part in creating the industrial touch to this timepiece. This definitely adds an interesting touch to the world of horology.
In a nutshell, the H3 is a stunning watch, in terms of its aesthetics or its technical prowess. Not only did HYT defied the conventional way to tell time, but it does so in such a magnificent and brilliant manner. This is definitely a conversational timepiece.
Urwerk UR-110 Eastwood
When it comes to independent watchmakers, there are always a few brands that stand out among the rest. These brands are known to venture beyond the usual realms of watchmaking, be it in terms of finishing or design (and usually, the combination of both in most cases). Urwerk, as one would have imagined, is one of them.
Despite being only two decades young, Urwerk is already an icon in the industry. The watchmaker is most famous for its revolving satellite complications, as well as its contemporary and provocative space-inspired designs. In fact, the watchmaker won the prestigious 2011 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève prize for the Best Design Watch with the UR-110.
Following its success at GPHG, Urwerk had decided to go a step further by face-lifting the UR-110. And folks, this is how the UR-110 Eastwood is born. The Eastwood features all the usual DNA of the UR-110, except for both its bezel and straps. These two elements underwent some bespoke tailoring, and boy, the Eastwood turned out to be a very different timepiece. The bezel, for instance, can be fitted with either the Indonesian Macassar Ebony or the South African Red Ivory Wood. On the other hand, the strap is made with a special tweed fabric, specifically chosen in collaboration with renowned bespoke tailor Timothy Everest.
Overall, the combination of the modern revolving satellite complication and the bespoke touches add a refreshing dimension to the iconic UR-110. While the UR-110 Eastwood may not looks as stealthy and edgy as the original variant, but this is certainly one of the more interesting pieces that is hailed from the Geneva-based watchmaker.
Harry Winston Opus 3 by Vianney Halter
Finally, we have the legendary Harry Winston Opus 3 by Vianney Halter. The series was a concept that was started by Max Busser, when he was then the CEO of Harry Winston Timepieces. It was an exciting concept at that time. Each year, Harry Winston would collaborate with an exceptional independent watchmaker annually to create an exceptional timepiece. In Baselworld 2003, they announced the Opus 3, the third watch in the Opus series. The watch was amazing and extremely complicated that it took them 10 years before the first timepiece was delivered to the customers.
The Opus 3, in our opinion, is one of the most memorable timepieces from the collection. It boasts a very simple design, which features 6 potholes that displays both the time and date. But that is juxtaposed with the complicated mechanics behind the timepiece, which is the reason why both Harry Winston and Vianney Halter are only able to deliver the watches 10 years after the concept was first unveiled.
Now, you must be wondering how can do we read the time on the watch. Well, as we have mentioned, the watch indicates both the time and date. On the top left and right potholes, it indicates the hours, in the 24 hours format. The top left pothole indicates the first digit (either 0, 1 or 2), while the top right pothole indicates the last digit of the hour (from 0-9). The bottom left and right portholes indicate the minutes. That leaves the two potholes in the middle, in which both of them indicate the date. What makes the watch more interesting is that the last 4 seconds before each change of the hour or minute, where the upper left porthole turns into a countdown counter, counting the last 4 seconds. This is a world premiere for such a complication, and caused many wows in the BaselWorld halls then, and still does today at any viewing of the watch.
Well, we have concluded this week’s Throwback Sundays. To be frank, we had a difficult time selecting the six watches for today’s article as there are so many outstanding pieces that demands our attentions as well. There are some notable exclusions, and hence we have decided to do a second installment on this topic. Keep a lookout for it!
Now, back to our selections today. As usual, we have selected a wide spectrum of timepieces that has got an unusual way of telling time. These include the more affordable alternatives like the SevenFriday V-Series, to the more exclusive and rare ones like the Harry Winston Opus 3 and the HYT H3. While a majority of watches that we have highlighted today are slightly one the pricier side, but we do maintain the stand that you do not need to have a lot of money to purchase something that is unique and fun (like the SevenFriday). In a nutshell, there is always something for everyone.
We hope that you have enjoyed this week’s installment of Throwback Sundays. As usual, please let us know what are some of the topics that you might want to see for our future articles, and do have a great week ahead!