For this edition of the worn&wound round-table, we’re going to have a bit of fun… let our imaginations run past the scopes of our wallets:
“if money were no question, what currently available watch would you love to own?”
Enjoy, and let us know your answer in the comments!
Everyone loves these “money-no-object” questions. They’re great fun to think about, simply because when you take budget out of the equation, the question really becomes “what is the best watch overall, bar none?”. Clearly the best means different things to different people, but to me the best would have to be the simple 3-hand Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 in stainless steel. A brilliant Gerald Genta luxo-diver design without the whiff of gauche-ness that unfortunately follows the AP Royal Oak, finishing that can only truly be appreciated with a high power microscope, a beautifully finished movement with a display back, and a shimmering blue dial that runs the gamut from bright cerulean to inky midnight depending on the light. For one watch to wear every day, money no object, you simply cannot do better.
Hhmmm…if money were no object, which currently available new watch would I want? Man, if I only had a nickel for every time I pondered that question….Anyways, when talking vintage watches, I could go on and on with a list of dream watches if love to own. However, when it comes to modern, there’s one that would definitely be the first item on my wish list if I ever won the lottery: The Zeitwerk Striking Time in white gold by A. Lange & Sohne. It is just so incredibly cool that it’s the king of the hill IMHO. The symmetrical dial with that crazy neo-retro digital jump hour dial just speaks to me. I know it’s um, just a bit unconventional, but I love it to pieces. I could do without the crown at 2, but it’s still near perfection to me. I fell in love with the Zeitwerk the minute I first saw one, and the addition of the chiming mechanism is just icing on the cake.
This is a tough one. There are a lot of great options to choose from with such a big playground. I know I should probably go with something from Patek, Lange, or Journe–you know, one of the big guys with serious horological acumen. But I won’t. While I appreciate those brands and what they represent, Lange is the only one I genuinely like in terms of aesthetics, and even then it’s on a model-by-model basis.
Instead, I decided to go with something a little younger and a bit more “out there”: a custom Ochs and Junior moon phase. I’ve been drawn to the small Lucerne-based firm since I first learned of them years ago. I love the stripped down, rustic aesthetic, and the enormous depth of options available to customers when building a watch, everything from case size and materials to distinct patination. And coupled with the fact that the brand produces roughly 300 watches a year, you can be sure that when Ochs and Junior builds you watch, it’ll be the only one like it.
Which watch would I love to own? It’s a timely question since I met its maker just three weeks ago in London. It’s Peter Roberts’ Concentrique, Grand Complication 5.
There are a lot of special watches out there. It’s hard not to drool over Patek and Richard Mille’s offerings, for example. But there’s something far more special about a watch that started as an idea in 1972 but is only now being produced – and in tiny numbers – by its original maker.
Peter’s final project at WOSTEP was to do something that, as far as he knew, no-one had done before – produce a watch with five hands from the centre shaft. He’d seen a drawing in an old textbook and planned to reproduce it. His Swiss tutors weren’t even sure it was possible.
So he built a Valjoux 726-powered watch that was not only a certified chronometer, but had five hands with the usual hours, minutes and seconds but also a date and a second
time zone. And this was the prototype for the Concentrique.
It’s a watch with a history and a story. There will only be 40 of them. No bling, no fuss, no diamonds studding the dial. Just very serious watchmaking indeed. The horological equivalent of the DB4GT Zagato.
The easy answer is “all of them” but that would be cheating. I’ve long been a fan of chronographs and watches with a GMT or dual time-zone function. Even better when the two complications are wrapped into the same package. In my eye, none does it better than the Chopard Mille Miglia GMT Chronograph, specifically Ref. Number:158992-3001 on the stainless steel bracelet. The 42.5mm case size is just about right for my wrist and it’s a COSC certified Chronometer. I could easily see myself wearing this watch most days without question. It hits all the sweet spots for me.
I’ve always lusted after the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe. At just over $10,000, a bit more for the ti version, this is a watch that clicks with my lust for modern vintage-look divers. The lack of crown guards, low profile case, red-tipped seconds hand and ceramic bezel just make this watch perfect if I was ever going to go for a luxury diver. The Cal 1315 offers a 120-hour power reserve and with a modern 43mm case, I could definitely make this my only watch. It’s pretty and very simple in its design and non-watch heads would probably not notice it… or they might, it’s just that pretty of an object. I don’t like the date window placement and think it would just look even more astounding as a no-date watch.
If money were no consideration… man, wouldn’t that be nice? Anyway, in answering this question I realized I was confronted with a few issues… First, is the goal just to get something that is exceedingly expensive, because, well, you can? Something exceedingly complicated, ornate and flashy? Sure hope not… then I realized, well, I should pick something that I’d actually want to wear. Something that suits my style and aesthetic… I basically wear simple, minimal items… jeans and an oxford 95% of the time, occasionally a sport coat and a tie (still often with jeans), a suit only if it’s absolutely necessary and work boots as much of the year as possible… I also typically wear sporty, understated watches. So, I don’t want some overly precious dress watch, nor do I want some gaudy luxury sport-watch… but, I would want something with an interesting movement. What to do? oh, and as per the rules, it has to be currently available.
Well… conveniently, one of my grail watches is a currently manufactured piece; the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk (which I have espoused my love for before). Specifically, the platinum model with silver dial. Yes, it’s a decadent luxury watch, but hear me out. First, aesthetically it’s surprising restrained. There is little in the way of anything extraneous, the case is simple and classic, and on the platinum model, the dial is basically monotone. It’s clean, yet, there is something sporty about it. It reminds me of the dashboard in a 60’s or 70’s sports car… not one in particular, just in general. And the use of the digital display makes it feel very modern, even if the styling and detailing is classical. It’s also a bit larger than one might expect at about 42mm, making it wear more casual (yes, I’ve had the opportunity).
Secondly, It’s utterly brilliant. I love the idea of the digital display being powered by a manual, mechanical movement and that they had to create new, patented mechanisms in order to execute it. Though it might appear simple, getting those discs to jump at stroke of the minute and hour requires a lot power, and some clever engineersing. One look at the back, and the divinely finished and undeniably complex German silver movement let’s you know that this is no ordinary watch, but rather mechanized art.
Because I’m a bit of a space geek – and that extends to astrophysics – my drug watch of choice would be the Sky-Moon Tourbillon from Patek Philippe. Not the super engraved white gold model. The more elegant, smooth, rose gold version, ref. 5002R.
Thirteen complications on two dials – one on each side of the case – a map of the night sky tailored to your location, grand complication, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, moon phase, mean solar time, sidereal time, the list goes on and on. Can’t wear it diving though, the case is only protected from humidity and dust, not actual water.
Rumor has it PP only makes two a year because they have so few employees who know enough to do the job. There is no official pricing unless you indicate directly to PP that you have a real interest in owning one. Rumor (again) puts it somewhere north of $1.2M.
High-priced new watches are generally way off my radar, since they usually fall into one of two categories: over-extravagant or legacy-priced. Extravagance isn’t my style, and the idea of paying many thousands of dollars on a new watch just because older versions of the watch are now collectable and valuable doesn’t appeal to me at all. Still, there are a few brands who aren’t in either category, and they make some great watches I’d love to own if not for the price. High on that list is Ressence, who are making some of the most gorgeous and innovative watches around today. If I had 20 grand burning a hole in my pocket and I had to buy a new watch, I’d love to get my hands on a Type 1, the crownless, wire-lugged, no-handed wonder that it is. Watching the dial discs circle around is watching mechanical art at its finest.
The Watch Curmudgeon
Wow! If I could buy a watch and didn’t have to consider the price, I’d have lots of thinking to do. Or would I? Actually, it took me just a couple of minutes to make my choice.
First, I narrowed it down to luxury brands that, in my jaded opinion, are revered for innovation, absolute quality, integrity, design, and brand longevity. That would include the likes of Patek, Vacheron, Rolex, Jaeger, Breguet, Cartier, Hublot* and a few select others.
I would want a wearable watch that would become part of my rotation, so historical vintage pieces that belong in a vault wouldn’t do. Nor would fussy, breakable tourbillons and repeaters. Yeah, they’re cool, especially the mega-complication models in the above $500,000. range. But do you want to endure the tedious process of re-setting perpetual calendars and moon phase indicators every time you want to wear one? Ain’t for me!
So, to get to the point, I chose a brand that doesn’t have a colorful history, but, in the 16 years they’ve been in business, they’ve been producing outrageously innovative and gorgeous watches that have been shaking the industry to the core! And that brand is F.P. Journe. It has always been a true manufacture, owned and operated by a guy who has to be one of the most freakin’ brilliant watch makers of all time, equally on par with good old A.L. Breguet.
Once I knew that it ABSOLUTELY had to be a Journe, the real problem became choosing one from their modest, yet spectacular collection. I love all their models, except for the very few diamond encrusted ones. I’ll forgive them for those. Now answer me this: How many brands can you identify where you’d love to own every damn thing they made?
If I had to wear a tourbillon, it would be a Journe. And the same goes for a repeater. I could have even lived happily ever after with their most unJourne VAGABONDAGE ll. But what I chose is their CHRONOMÈTRE À RÉSONANCE model from their SOUVERAINE COLLECTION, the rose gold one with a grey dial on a gator strap. To my tastes, it’s an impossibly perfect watch.
Just gaze at the photo of it. Absorb the design, from the hands, to the indicators, to the crown. And imagine the twin balances beating in perfect synchronization while magically exploiting the natural phenomenon of resonance. That’s what I would be pondering every time I wore this watch, which would be VERY frequently. My other watches would grow to despise my Journe!
How much does it cost? I couldn’t get a current price, but I would guess that it’s in the $70 to $80 thousand range. And worth every %&$#ing penny!
*Hublot was mentioned just to see if any of you are half asleep.