Watches & Wonders held recently in Hong Kong for the third successive year was heralded a success by the organizers. Most of the Richemont brands were present, as it was originally conceived as an Asian version of the SIHH. The notable absentee was Audemars Piguet who participated in 2013 and 2014.
This year also saw the attendance of foreign press from Europe and the US for the first time. We were impressed with some of the novelties. And in usual Deployant tradition, we pick 5 watches which caught our eye. Some have been already been subject of full reviews here, and some will be featured soon. Our Top 5:
Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic True Second
The first watch in our selection is the exquisite Geophysic True Second, from Jaeger LeCoultre.
When we first saw the watch, we were captivated by its beauty. Certainly one of the most beautiful pieces that we have seen in this year’s Watches and Wonders. The design is classic, elegant and timeless. The proportions of the watch ideal, and the design was very clean. At 39.6mm, it is also a nice size.
Aside from the aesthetics, the watch features a rather interesting complication: the True Seconds. The True Seconds, also known as the Dead-Beat Seconds (French: Seconde Morte), is a complication that allows the seconds-hand to tick once every second. It is similar to the movement of the seconds-hand in a quartz watch. In a quartz movement, this once a second movement of the seconds hand is a necessity to conserve battery power. But in a mechanical movement, it is the result of an additional device between the power train and the seconds pinion. An added complication. In contrast the classical mechanical timepiece’s second hand moves either 4, 5, or 8 times a second (18,000 bph, 21,600 bph and 28,800 bph) when directly attached to the fourth wheel.
The Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic True Seconds freatures a remontoir to effect this complication. and offers a more accurate read-off of time, as the seconds hand pauses for a full second before advancing a step, allowing easier reading of the seconds.
Full hands-on review with analysis up-coming.
IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Monopusher Chronograph
Next up, we have the gorgeous IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Monopusher Chronograph. The Hand-Wound Monopusher Chronograph is one of the latest additions into the Portofino collection, and it is also the first ever in-house produced monopusher chronograph movement by IWC.
In our earlier full review on this particular timepiece, we waxed lyrical about its aesthetics. For starters, the layout of the various indicators on the mesmerizing slate-grey dial are thoughtfully planned. We particularly like how IWC had used only two sub-dials (instead of three), as well as the seamless incorporation of the power reserve and the date indicators into the design of the dial. The proportions of the watch are drawn out nicely with clean and simple lines resulting in a very elegant watch.
The watch features the in-house Caliber 59360, a hand-winding monopusher chronograph movement with a large power reserve of approximately 8 days. The finishing on the movement is also very good. We loved the layered structure of the movement, and the relative rarity of a monopusher.
Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Dual Time Vasco Da Gama Limited Edition 238
Following the IWC Portofino, we have the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Dual Time Vasco Da Gama Limited Edition 238.
The watch, as its name suggests, pays tribute to the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama. Some of the references to this great explorer includes the Southern Cross constellation at the 12 o’clock position, as well as the São Gabriel emblem that was showcased on the inside of the sapphire crystal caseback. Nice touches.
Besides its two-tone casing, the highlight of this watch is the dual timezone display. The complication was developed in-house by Montblanc in Villeret, and its functions can be operated via the crown of the watch. Incidentally, the hour hand is also independent from the minutes, running seconds and the blue home time hour hand. This ensures that the proper time is still kept, even when one is adjusting the timezone on the watch. When not required to show two timezones simultaneously, the blued home time hand can also be hidden beneath the hour hand.
With a recommended retail price of SGD$9,300, the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Dual Time Vasco Da Gama Limited Edition 238 offers tremendous value. And it seems to us that Jérôme Lambert who took over as CEO in 2013 is challenging his counterparts to a duel. Battleground: value for money watches. We watch in anticipation.
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Ultra-thin Minute Repeater
In this year’s Watches and Wonders, we thought that Vacheron Constantin was one of the more impressive watch manufacturers in the exhibition hall. Some of the novelties, such as the 57260 and the Maitre Cabinotier Perpetual Calendar Regulator, were simply stunning. But there is one particular timepiece that we feel is even more outstanding. Presenting to you the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Ultra-thin Minute Repeater, cased in platinum.
Although it is a Watches and Wonders novelty, but the Patrimony Ultra-thin Minute Repeater was not exactly a new timepiece. It was, in fact, launched in 2013 with a rose gold case. Incidentally, it was also the world’s thinnest minute repeater watch for a short period of time before Jaeger LeCoultre came along with the Hybris Mechanica 11. The movement, Caliber 1731, is still currently the world’s thinnest minute repeater movement though.
Aesthetically, we thought that the Patrimony Ultra-thin Minute Repeater is a classy and elegant timepiece. But what really impresses us is the minute repeater itself. Our Editor was nearly brought to tears at the beauty of the watch’s sonic capabilities, and we think is quite possibly the best sounding minute repeater watches in the world of horology. Read his account for a first hand story.
Admittedly, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Ultra-thin Minute Repeater is a pricey timepiece. But all minute repeaters are. And there aren’t many watches out there that would make an owner feel as special as this one. This is not just a timepiece; it is a bastion of true horological excellence. What’s the price of that?
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition
Finally, we conclude this edition’s Watches and Wonders Top 5 Picks with A. Lange & Söhne’s 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition.
The 1815 Chronograph, in our opinion, is possibly one of the most handsome looking chronographs in the horological world. It follows a rather traditional design scheme, with strong hints of poise and sophistication.
The new 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition features a Pulsometer scale that was first seen in the original iteration of the 1815 Chronograph. We always thought this was a nice touch, and welcome its return. Another obvious highlight of the timepiece would be the blue details on the dial, complementing both the blued hands (from both the sub-dials, as well as the center chronograph hand) and the white gold case magnificently. Reminding us of the blue accents on vintage Ming porcelain. As usual with Lange, the finishing is top drawer.
Perhaps one might speculate that we have taken rather safe choices.
But we think we selected a rather diverse crop of novelties. For example, the Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic True Second gets our pick for the best all-rounder watches in this year’s exhibition. The watch is simply stunning to behold, finishing and quality which is excellent, and features a nice complication at an interesting price point. Another is the refreshed look of the Lange 1815 Chronograph with the prestine white dial with its gorgeous blue markers and hands. Or the high value for money Worldtimer by Montblanc.
We note, however, the number of novelties seem to be smaller and the focus seem to be on design rather than big technical pieces.
We hope that you have enjoyed our top 5 picks for this year’s Watches and Wonders. Do let us know your views, as well as watches that you reckon deserve a place in this article. Have a great week ahead!