When it comes to watches, there are the traditional watch manufacturers that we are generally familiar with. Brands, such as Patek Philippe and Rolex, are synonymous with both collectors and non-collectors alike.
On the other side of the equation, there are jewellery or luxury goods brands that are more known for their core products (think of handbags, pendants, rings, etc.) than its horological products. But that does not mean that these brands do not produce great timepieces.
When it comes to these luxury fashion or jewellery brands, watches – which can be considered to be within the same category loosely – are still part of the brand’s product range. Over the years, these brands have moved towards developing compelling watch-related products. Some maisons, which we will be highlighting later, have been in the watchmaking business for the longest time as well.
So, what are these brands, and which of their watches have caught our attention? Let’s find out!
First up, we have a brand that is well-known in both the jewellery and watch industry: Cartier.
Cartier is one of the brands that have deeply entrenched itself in the horological world. This is partially due to the fact that the Santos – a flagship in the Cartier collection – is widely documented as one of the first pilot’s wristwatches that was produced in history. But it has gone beyond just that. The square watch is pretty much an iconic in its own rights, and it is possibly one of the most recognisable watches as well with its timeless design and bold touches (think of the exposed screws on both the bezel and integrated bracelets).
The latest generation of Santos, launched in 2018, still retains its characteristics. It is now even better, with the inclusion of an in-house movement in the form of the automatic Calibre 1847 MC. The large model in steel is the piece that we will opt for, and it retails at €6,600 (approximately S$10,079).
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic
When Bvlgari launched the Octo Finissimo collection in 2017, it certainly raised the eyebrows of many collectors. Here, we have a new contender in the world of ultra-thin watches, typically produced by manufacturers who have perfected the craft of watchmaking. Bvlgari was surely a new kid in town, vis-à-vis maisons like Jaeger LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin.
The Octo Finissimo Automatic takes ultra-thin watches into a whole new different perspective. Typical of a fashion brand, Bvlgari turns its focus onto the design of the watch. The Octo Finissimo captures the essence of the Gerald Genta DNA, but not before making it much sleeker with an ultra-thin case and paired with an avantgarde-looking thin integrated bracelet. Its end result is nothing short of magnificent.
Over the last few years, Bvlgari had produced multiple iterations of the Octo Finissimo – each with a different complication or case material. For us, the Octo Finissimo Automatic captures the elegance and sophistication of an ultra-thin timepiece beautifully. The stainless steel version retails at S$18,350, and the 40mm masterpiece is certainly one that never fails to amaze us every single time when we interact it.
Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Blue
In the recent years, Montblanc had certainly made a strong statement of intent with its revamped collection. The introduction of the 1858 Collection is one of them, in which it combines the best of both worlds: the traditional workshops of Montblanc in Le Locle, and their ateliers in Villaret.
The 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter is one of the results from this collaboration. The timepiece, launched in late 2015, epitomises fine watchmaking with captivating aesthetics. The watch is fitted with a stunning blue dial, featuring a retro-styled look with interesting touches like the cathedral hands and the use of both the old Minerva and Montblanc logos. Together with the block numerals and the large onion crown, it is a reminiscence of the pilot watches that Minerva had produced in the yesteryear.
Powered by the Minerva Calibre 16.29, the 44mm monopusher chronograph is an extremely well-finished movement. We also like the traditional chronograph elements, such as the use of horizontal clutch and a large balance wheel that beating at 18,000 bph. It also features the famous “Devil’s Tail”, and the overall design of the movement is simply a remarkable sight to behold.
The watch retails at S$37,800.
Hermès Arceau L’Heure De La Lune
Often known for its signature Birkin handbags, it is not difficult to see why few collectors know the existence of Hermès watches. But the Arceau L’Heure De La Lune might just be one of the watches that changes everything.
Launched in SIHH 2019, the 43mm timepiece provides a classy yet contemporary touch to the moonphase complication. The watch utilises a pair of moving off-centre sub-dials to that rotates around the main meteorite dial (it is also available in Aventurine) in the background. The main dial notably houses two mother-of-pearl “moons” – each representing the northern and southern hemisphere of the Moon. The rotating off-centre dials then acts as a moonphase indicator; its orbital follows the different phases of the moon and it displays that accordingly.
Priced at CHF30,000 (approximately S$41,123), the Arceau L’Heure De La Lune certainly commands a premium for its gorgeous aesthetics. It is limited to 200 pieces, and all of them have already been accounted for. If Hermes can continue to impress us with such offerings, we do think that the traditional watch manufacturers will start to have something else to worry about.
Chopard L.U.C. Quattro
Chopard is one of the brands that we adore for its well-made timepieces, but it is not a manufacturer that is familiar with many collectors. It is a great shame, as collections such as the L.U.C. is certainly up there with the big boys.
The new 43mm Quattro is one of such remarkable creations. The timepiece attained its nomenclature with the use of four mainspring barrels, which offers an impressive power reserve of approximately 9 days. Its construction is rather sophisticated as well, considering that Chopard is able to maintain the movement’s thickness of a mere 3.7mm. On top of that, the finishing of the in-house Calibre 98.01-L is sublime.
Retailing at US$25,800 (approximately S$35,080), the L.U.C. Quattro offers collectors an alternative in the world of haute horlogerie. It is rather challenging to find any faults with this timepiece, and we sure hope that the brand gains much more recognition than status quo.
Harry Winston Historie de Tourbillon 10
Finally, we have Harry Winston Historie de Tourbillon 10.
Launched in the recent Time to Move event, this timepiece is the final edition of the illustrious Historie de Tourbillon collection. At the first glance, the rectangular 10th Edition is not a simple timepiece: The watch is fitted with four different tourbillons, in which it is connected by three differentials. The 673 component timepiece is also powered by 4 barrels, in which they are fitted with a spring featuring a sliding brace to prevent over winding.
For a brand that is pretty much well-known for its beautiful jewellery collections, the Historie de Tourbillon 10 is certainly a force to be reckon with. It is the first in the world to feature four distinctive tourbillons – which is one level up against master watchmakers like Greubel Forsey. This is technical ingenuity at its finest.
The watch industry is certainly getting more diverse. It is not just a game amongst traditional watch manufacturers anymore – everyone wants a piece of that pie. Luxury fashion brands, micro-brands, and even electronic gadget manufacturers are creating wristwatches. There is surely something for everyone.
The luxury fashion brands (and jewellers) have recognised that if they want to attract collectors, their watches must be good. Consumers are more discerning, and the fact that adorning ordinary watches with precious gems simply does not make the cut anymore. The collectors want well-made timepieces that are visually stunning with horological merits. That is the reason why brands like Ralph Lauren and Hermes are focusing on both the aesthetics and movement of their watches more these days. The watches that we have highlighted today simply proves our point.
Will you be keen to give these brands a shot, or will you rather stick to the traditional watch manufacturers? Let us know in the comments section below.