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Throwback Sundays: Six Watches with Incredible Case Designs, from Our Archives

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Design is an important element, especially when it comes to watches. Good case design can bring out the personality of a watch, or even brings across messages or inspirations that the designer or watchmaker is trying to put across.

Over the last few weeks, we have covered many watches from independent watchmakers. One interesting thing that stood out was design, where we can see how these craftsmen can express the different design languages or philosophies without many restrictions to hold them back. The end result is amazing, to say the least.

Hence, the inspiration for this week (and perhaps, the subsequent few weeks) is to explore the theme of case designs. Specifically, interesting and/or unusual case designs. What have we selected for this week? Let us find out!

Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200

Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200 casual

When it comes to diver’s watches, there is a certain level of homogeneity amongst the pieces within the category. But the Omega Seamaster Ploprof is a little bit more special than the others.

Launched in 1970, the Ploprof is a collaboration between Omega and Jacques Cousteau to create an extremely water-resistant watch. The result is an extremely water-tight case that uses a monobloc construction, together with self-locking crown system and a patented bezel locking mechanism.

The modern iteration follows the same case aesthetic, with additional features such as a helium escape valve (HEV), extra water-resistance (up to 1,200m in depth), and a new co-axial movement. Coupled with the shark-mesh bracelet, the Ploprof is a throwback to the 70s where Omega really flourished with incredible watch designs.

Price for the Seamaster Ploprof 1200 begins at S$12,350 for the stainless steel variant. Frankly, the Ploprof is a controversial piece – either you like the design, or you do not. We certainly love the watch, and we think that it is a well-made diver’s watch that is very different from the crowd. It is definitely an interesting piece to add into any watch collection.

F.P. Journe Vagabondage III

Next up, we have an interesting piece from F.P. Journe: Vagabondage III.

As its name suggests, the Vagabondage III is a timepiece that is unconventional in many different aspects. Besides its uncommon Tortue case, the watch’s time-telling capabilities is rather peculiar as well. The watch features a digital display for both the hour and seconds indicators, while opting for an analog display for the minutes.

Powered by the Calibre 1514, the manual-winding Vagabondage III has a power reserve of around 40 hours. The watch also features a remontoir – in order for its to store and release energy every second to allow the jumping seconds mechanism to operate. The finishing of the 18k gold movement is aesthetically stunning as well, with the employment of a myriad of haute horlogerie finishing techniques.

The Vagabondage III is available in two different variants: one in red gold, and the other in platinum. The watches are priced between CHF 54,000 (approximately S$79,241) and CHF 56,000 (approximately S$82,176), and they will be produced in a limited run of 68 and 69 pieces respectively.

Vianney Halter Classic

Vianney Halter is a legend in the world of watchmaking, and perhaps one of the pioneers in the field of independent watchmaking.

The Classic, which is a three-hand timepiece, is an attractive timepiece that captures the essence of Vianney and his eccentric ideas. Drawing its inspiration from potholes and Jules Verne, the Classic has an interesting steampunk case design that is coupled with a pair of unusual cantilevered lugs. The studded crown was an interesting sight to behold as well.

Powered by a highly modified Lemania 8810, the Classic is well-finished with a great attention to detail. The winding rotor is another noteworthy point, where an eccentric weight is mounted on the periphery of a sapphire glass rotor. This enables the movement to be viewed without any form of obstruction.

A total of 250 pieces in white gold, rose gold and yellow gold in various dial combinations were made before production stopped. More recently, Vianney offered a special Anniversary edition in stainless steel, with only 20 pieces made available. The latter is priced at US$50,000 (approximately S$69,873). It is slightly pricey, but then again, the Classic is indeed a magical watch that is perhaps pretty much unparalleled in the horological scene.

Laurent Ferrier Bridge One

The Bridge One, from Laurent Ferrier, offers collectors a design-centric case, with a large swooping curvaceous case that reminds of us a sculpture. The execution is unique, with an unusual interpretation of the rectangular cases. Additionally, the sapphire crystal is also curved too, to follow the form of the case. The crystal was cut from a spherical glass globe, and forms a beautiful window to the dial. The focus here is really on the shape of the case, which was thrusted in the spotlight while the enamel dial takes a step backwards with a simple but functional appearance.

The watch is fitted with a new in-house Calibre LF107.01 – a rectangular hand-winding movement. The watch beats at 21,600 bph, and it boasts a decent power reserve of around 80 hours. The finishing is sublime, as per all Laurent Ferrier’s watches.

The Bridge One retails at CHF 37,000 (approximately S$54,295), and it is definitely a bold creation from a great watchmaker. This is literally a work of art, and one that is executed immaculately at all angles.

Cartier Crash

Originally conceived in 1967, the Cartier Crash is a timepiece with a story that is as intriguing as its nomenclature.

The Crash, with its seemingly strange case shape, was literally a work of accident. The design of the watch was inspired by a damaged Cartier watch that was brought in by a client, and hence an icon was born thereafter.

Released only in limited editions and quantity, the Crash is a rarity that appears only once in a blue moon. There are currently three versions available, with the base skeleton rose gold model retailing at an eye-watering amount of S$94,500. The skeletonised movement is a testament to the maison’s prowess in producing complicated movement, with a series of stunning decorations and finishing techniques to boot. The Crash is indeed a work of art, and one with an equally compelling story that makes this timepiece an even more enchanting one.

De Bethune DB28 Steel Wheels

De Bethune DB28 Steel Wheels side view

The DB28 collection from De Bethune has attained a certain cult status amongst collectors, for its contemporary and avant-garde take on watchmaking. The Steel Wheels, a novelty from 2018, is an excellent representation of that.

Amongst the many impressive aspects of the watch, the main highlight perhaps lies on the quasi-skeletonised dial that revealed elements of the stunning calibre DB2115V4. The finishing, as per usual, is spectacular as well. This includes the Côtes De Bethune on the triangle bridge, black polishing on the concave dial plate, as well as blued moonphase sphere that the brand is often known for. In fact, we are certain that mere words cannot do justice to the attention to detail on this piece.

Besides that, the other usual elements of the DB28 still exists. This includes the crown at the 12 o’clock position, as well as the patented floating lugs. This particular piece is also cased in grade-5 titanium, and the impeccable polish and finish on the case is something that is very difficult to achieve for this particularly hard metal.

Overall, the DB28 Steel Wheels is simply mind-blowing. It is stunning, but the finishing is on another level altogether. The watch is priced at CHF83,000 (approximately S$121,796), and we believe that this is something truly incredible – a take contemporary watchmaking with unusual design elements that make De Bethune watches so special.

Concluding Thoughts

These six watches are definitely interesting, and the case designs are definitely a touch unusual as compared to the others.

What we particularly like is how these watchmakers and manufacturers are able to draw inspiration from many different avenues, and condense it altogether into a watch. The end result is sublime, and it certainly adds a lot of vibrancy with different shapes and sizes. In fact, for the case of the Cartier Crash and Laurent Ferrier Bridge One, we dare say that it is more than just watches – it is akin to a work of art, similar to the likes of a sculpture. That is the power of design.

So, what are your thoughts on today’s selection? What are some of the watches that deserves a mention on the list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Throwback Sundays: Six Watches with Incredible Case Designs, from Our Archives | Wristwatch News

    • Agree Eddie. But do remember that this Throwback is on articles we have already written. We have not yet done a piece on the original RD Symphatie.