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Manly Must-Haves

Baselworld and Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Geneve are the biggest annual luxury watch fairs. Virtually all the new timepieces are launched at the two fairs held in Switzerland. Here are some of the new watches presented this year at Baselworld and SIHH.

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The Longines RailRoad
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Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon
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Chanel Monsieur de Chanel
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Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire
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Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Dual Time
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TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T
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Vacheron Constantin Historiques Ultra-fine 1955
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Oris Divers Sixty-Five
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Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Blue Limited Edition
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Breguet Tradition Repetition Minutes Tourbillon 7087
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Glashutte Original Senator Excellence
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Piaget Emperador Coussin XL 700P

The Longines RailRoad
(US$1,850 or S$2,497.50)

Longines’ watches at the start of the 20th century were worn by the staff of many railway companies in many countries, including the US and China. They are precise and good quality timepieces – a must-have requirement for a secure and reliable railway service. Longines has leveraged its reputation and experience in making such accurate timepieces to launch the RailRoad, a watch inspired by a model developed in the 1960s and worn by railwaymen. The dial gives the hour in a 24 - hour format, which was once used in railway schedules. There are two concentric hour circles: the outer one is for the first 12 hours of the day; the inner for the second 12 hours. Like the dial on the 1960s watch, it bears the letters “RR” (RailRoad) along with the number of the automatic movement, 888. The back of the 40mm stainless steel case, like the backs of some railroad pocket watches in the 1920s, is engraved with a picture of a locomotive.

Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon
(280,000 Swiss francs or S$392,000; limited 18 pieces)

The design of this 60-second flying tourbillon is naturally nautical-inspired, coming as it is from Ulysse Nardin’s Marine Chronometer collection. The handcrafted wood marquetry on the dial evokes a ship’s deck. The retrograde minutes display takes the form of a boom – the horizontal spar used to angle the head sail. And it’s pulled by a super-strong high-tech fibre that’s thinner than a human hair – the same material used in a ship’s rigging. The complication comes in a 44mm white gold case that houses a hand-wound movement with 48 hours’ power reserve.

Chanel Monsieur de Chanel
(S$49,000 in biege gold; limited 100 pieces, S$51,000 in white gold; limited 100 pieces)

This watch came as a surprise at a time when many big names are paying more attention to women. It’s a men’s watch launched by a French fashion house that caters to women. Indeed, it’s Chanel’s first watch for men – and it’s not just any men’s watch. Chanel designed and built it entirely on its own, with a little help from some of today’s most respected watchmakers, including Romain Gauthier. The effort is certainly ambitious, as this self-winding timepiece boasts two complications – an infant jumping hour and a retrograde which only more experienced brands would venture to make.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire
(S$92,300)

The scarcer a watch, the more valuable it is. Hublot is trying to overturn this universal principle of value with this watch, which has been cut out of a single block of sapphire. A sapphire timepiece is not new, but it’s usually one-of-a-kind, or is reserved in very limited numbers for private collections. The reason? It’s very hard to make one – sapphire is almost as hard and scratch-resistant as diamonds. So making 500 of them is a big deal. Which is what Hublot has done: It’s launching 500 pieces of the Big Bang Unico Sapphire in the market.

TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T
(S$21,800 in titanium; S$29,100 in limited edition; S$27,650 in rose gold lugs; and S$32,000 in rose gold bezel)

Probably the cheapest Swiss-made flying tourbillon in the market, The titanium and carbon complication, which includes an automatic chronograph, is a manufacturing and marketing coup that could pave the way for handmade high complications such as minute repeaters and perpetual calendars to be produced on a large scale. This chronograph-tourbillon is COSC certified – the only Swiss watch of its kind to meet the high precision standards set by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute.

Vacheron Constantin Historiques Ultra-fine 1955
(S$59,300)

This is one rare timepiece that has stood the time, well almost. Apart from it now being encased in platinum, the watch stays unchanged from the gold model launched in 2010 – right down to the small 36mm case. And it’s still driven by the same hand-wound movement first rolled out in 1955 to celebrate the brand’s 200th anniversary, only that the movement in 2010 and 2016 is made of solid gold. When the timepiece appeared six years ago to mark the 55th anniversary of the 1955 model, it was the world’s thinnest mechanical watch – just 4.1mm thick. A fitting homage to the original, which not only had the slimmest case but also the flattest movement then – the 1.46mm caliber 1003. Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre have in recent years unveiled skinnier timepieces, but the Historiques Ultra-fine 1955 remains a classic. Now clad in the noblest of metals, it’s even classy.

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Dual Time
(S$43,000)

By offering itself to be a useful tool to travellers, this two-time-zone timepiece has tipped the balance away from what Jaquet Droz has been mostly known for – look. While the brand’s roots have been largely marketed as artistic, it’s also a fact that its founder Pierre Jaques-Droz was a great traveller. And it has produced models such as the Twelve Cities, Grande Heure GMT and Time Zones. In the latest Grande Seconde Dual Time, the local time is shown in an upper dial while a lower second dial doubles up with an hours and minutes dial giving the reference time. Housed in the 43mm case, in red gold or stainless steel, is a new movement fitted with a silicon escapement that provides superior chronometric performance.

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Blue Limited Edition
(100 pieces) (9,500 euros or around S$14,725 in steel; 18,900 euros or S$28,917 in red gold)

Chronographs produced in the 1930s by the Minerva watchmaking house were models of accuracy in timekeeping. They also provided the inspiration for this watch. Even in the design and look, the early models exerted an influence: the historical shape of the hands of the remake, its small seconds at 9 o’clock and the chronograph counter at 3 o’clock. These are set against a striking blue dial held in a 44mm case. The hand-wound movement which powers the watch was developed in-house by Montblanc, which now owns Minerva.

Breguet Tradition Repetition Minutes Tourbillon 7087
(450,000 Swiss francs or S$630,000)

The tone of the chime is the true mark of minute repeater – it must be crisp enough to tell precisely the time and yet pleasing to the ear. Breguet has thus pre-determined the best mix of the two and built a timepiece around it, departing from the old way of making a repeater. The watch debuted in 2015 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Breguet Tradition collection, but is only now presented in its finalised form in a 44mm rose gold case. This watch, which also has a 60-second tourbillon, boasts six new patents and five major new innovative elements. The gong springs, a Breguet invention and an essential part of a repeater, have been entirely reworked. Instead of wrapping them around the movement and struck horizontally by hammers, they are attached to the bezel and vertically struck by the hammers. This construction makes the most of the fact that the sapphire crystal and bezel enable optimal sound transmission when they vibrate vertically.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five
(1,900 Swiss francs or S$2,660)

Oris diver’s watches appeared in 1965. The latest model has, for the first time, a dark blue, ruled dial, offset by vintage-coloured Super-LumiNova. Also new are the rubbed-down leather and textile NATO straps, both giving the watch a more vintage look. Featuring a 42mm stainless steel case, the new model is the largest of the series.

Glashutte Original Senator Excellence
(S$14,300 in stainless steel, S$26,600 in red gold)

This Glashutte Original classic, with a minimalist design, has been given the honour to launch the brand’s new automatic movement — the Calibre, equipped with a silicon balance spring that sets new standards in stability, precision and running time. With a power reserve of 100 hours, or about four days, this is a first for Glashutte. The watch comes in three versions: two with a lacquer dial; one in red gold and another in stainless steel case; and one with Super-LumiNova indices evoking an observation watch, in a steel case.

Piaget Emperador Coussin XL 700P
(S$70,800 limited 118 pieces)

This is a much-talked- about watch, partly because of its resemblance to Seiko’s quartz-mechanical Spring Drive collection. Yet the launch of Piaget’s new hybrid timepiece is very much in line with watchmakers’ perennial preoccupation to make a more accurate mechanical mechanical watch. Piaget, which is no stranger to quartz technology, has created a near-quartz precision timepiece without betraying Swiss watchmakers’ mechanical roots; the new watch requires no battery to run.