Over the last few months I have written numerous articles featuring the talents of watchmakers worldwide. I have been overwhelmed by the radical designs and diverse range of materials currently available on the market. The consumer demand for original timepieces is being satisfied by large brands and independents alike. Here are five incredibly sophisticated and innovative watches that have recently caught my eye.
Valerii Danevych Retrograde Wooden Wristwatch (main image)
Valerii Danevych is an amazing artisan based in the capital of the Ukraine, Kiev; a place normally not associated with haute horlogerie. Astonishingly he has got no formal training in watch design, only an extensive knowledge of joinery. The Retrograde is beautiful in appearance and unlike anything else I have ever seen. To put things into perspective this is the world’s first mechanical flying tourbillon wristwatch entirely manufactured out of wood. This is clearly a labour of love for Valerii as he personally hand selects each piece of wood for its unique colour and texture. Each watch involves 1800 hours of labour over a period of 7 months to produce. On that basis production numbers are extremely limited and highly exclusive. The price is 150,000 EUR (approximately $196,000)
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Woodstock US
It is incredible that a watchmaker as well respected as Parmigaini Fleurier was only established in 1996. Founder Michel Parmigiani has been instrumental in the company’s enormous success over the last 18 years. He has utilized his expertise to produce some absolutely magnificent timepieces including the phenomenal Tonda Woodstock US. The dial on the watch is specially designed to incorporate Gibson motif in wood marquetry. I love the overall design theme especially the large aperture displaying the mind-blowing tourbillon. This complication is encased in luxurious 18-carat rose gold and is provided with a Hermès alligator strap.
BLU (Bernhard Lederer Universe) Gagarin Tourbillon
Bernhard Lederer established his highly successful company BLU in 2000. Over the last thirteen years he has created a range of stunning watches including the sensational Gagarin Tourbillon. This sublime creation commemorates the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic journey into space. Visually the watch is mesmerising and the attention to detail is superlative. Beneath the luxurious platinum 950 exterior lies an incredibly complex movement. This mechanical masterpiece comprises 264 components and oscillates at a frequency of 28, 800 bph/4 Hz. Functionally the timepiece features hours, minutes and also a unique 60-second flying tourbillon that orbits the dial counter clockwise in 108 minutes. The suggested retail price is: CHF 260,000 (approximately $281,400)
Franck Muller Aeternitas-mega-4
Luxury Swiss watch brand Franck Muller was established in 1991 by its namesake and Vartan Sirmakes. Over the last 22 years the company has designed and manufactured a series of quality timepieces including the majestic Aeternitas-mega-4. This watch proclaims to be the world’s most complicated timepiece. The Calibre FM 3480 QPSE is a manual winding movement comprising 99 jewels and an unrivalled 1483 hand made components. Functionally the watch features a mechanical tourbillon, chronograph, perpetual calendar, equation of time and two additional time zones. This superb timepiece is encased in opulent 18k white gold and measures a colossal 61mm x 42.00 mm x 19.15mm. The price is approximately $2,500,000.
Thomas Prescher Nemo Captain
In 2002 Thomas Prescher established his own luxury watchmaking company within the picturesque Swiss location of Twann in 2002. The Nemo Captain is one of their latest creations and pays homage to the splendid Art Nouveau era. This amazing timepiece also draws inspiration from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Dimensionally the watch is classically proportioned measuring a modest 44mm x 16.5mm. Time is cleverly displayed via large portholes visible on both sides of the case. These windows allow the recipient a clear view of the highly complicated tourbillon movement. This entire splendour is encased in opulent pink gold (4N) & Palladium (950). Prices start from CHF 428,570 (approximately $463, 519.
By Steve Huyton
You can read more of Steve’s superb watch features on his website here