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TWO timepieces and a watch movement which helped shape and define modern watchmaking celebrate key anniversaries this year.
The Omega Speedmaster, the first watch to land on the moon, is marking the 50th year of the historical moment with three “moon-watch” models created specially for the occasion. One of the three is set to make history again. The eagerly-awaited Speedmaster Moonwatch 321 Platinum signals the return of the iconic Calibre 321 – the first movement used in an Omega Speedmaster chronograph and in a number of space-bound models, including the first watch worn on the moon.
But the Speedmaster Moonwatch 321 Platinum, the first “moon” watch to be powered by the reconstructed mechanism, doesn’t come cheap. At S$82,500, it’s the most expensive of the three commemorative moon watches.
Also toasting its 50th birthday is Zenith’s El Primero, the world’s first automatic chronograph movement. Still going strong, it’s also one of the watch movements with the longest production run. Capable of measuring time to a tenth of a second, the El Primero is one of the most accurate chronograph movements. No less than Rolex’s Cosmograph Daytona was running on this mechanism – until Rolex produced its own chronograph movement in 2000.
In a salute to this great movement on its 50th anniversary, Zenith has unveiled a number of new El Primero watch models. They include a near-remake of the original El Primero chronograph in three models – the A384, A385 and A386.
A Lange & Sohne’s Lange 1, which has been around only half as long as the El Primero, is commemorating its 25th anniversary with 10 limited editions of various models from the Lange 1 collection. Featuring a big date and an unconventional dial layout, the Lange 1 has not just spun off several innovations in modern watchmaking, it has also influenced the look and appearances of timepieces today.
Almost single-handedly, the Lange 1 has given A Lange & Sohne a new lease of life and helped to revive the glory of German watchmaking.
Anniversary watches aside, it has been a year of reissues of old classics and recent popular models: Cartier’s Santos; Franck Muller’s Master Banker; Montblanc’s 1858 Chronograph and Geosphere; Tissot’s Heritage 1973; and Tudor’s Black Bay Bronze.
There are also new models with new innovations. One of these is Patek Philippe’s Alarm Travel Time, a two-time zoner with a 24-hour alarm wielding a hammer that strikes on a classic gong. Another is Vacheron Constantin’s Twin Beat Perpetual, which has a 65-day power reserve in “standby” mode as well as an instantaneous perpetual calendar.
Pushing harder the boundaries of innovation, Piaget has managed to squeeze even smaller parts and mechanisms into a watch case just two millimetres thick. The result is the Altiplano Ultimate Concept – the world’s thinnest mechanical hand-wound timepiece.
At the lower end of the luxury scale, Citizen has introduced Caliber 0100 – the most accurate quartz wristwatch ever and, by extension, the most accurate wristwatch of any kind. The timepiece is guaranteed to run within a second a year.
Watch prices, which have been falling in recent years, have probably fallen as far they can. The only notable exception is, perhaps, Ulysse Nardin’s Freak. It used to retail for over S$100,000, but a Freak model can now be had for as low as S$30,000.
Other than that, watch prices are creeping up again with the recovery in the watch market.
The developments and trends cited above are only a teaser. For the full story and more, read the BT Watch Supplement 2019.
Supplement editor: Chuang Peck Ming Sub-editor: Quek Swee Peng Cover design: Gareth Chung Advertising sales: Vivien Cham 97460379 Champs@sph.com.sg; Calista Ang 81881471 Calistaa@sph.com.sg; Chen Huiyi 94889854 Huiyic@sph.com.sg;Kevin Tan 96919569 Kevintan@sph.com.sg