COVID-frickin-19. Novel coronavirus. Wuhan virus. Chinese virus. Whatever you call it, doesn’t make it go away. We’re all still cooped up in our homes, isolated from friends and maybe family too. Social distancing—gotta practice that, as we sanitise or wash our hands for the umpteenth time.
So maybe it's a good idea to look on the bright side? Maybe a stay-home notice or home quarantine isn’t as dreadful as it sounds. In fact, it’s the least we could do while medical professionals are out there fighting on the frontlines. People in Italy seem to be doing a bang-up job there, what with their impromptu music performances on balconies and all.
And if you need a little help staying positive (figuratively, not literally), let these watch brands give you a hand (again, figurative—social distancing, remember?)
Worried about the social backlash about indulging in retail therapy while the rest of the world is battling a pandemic? Well, honestly, if you’re going to be holed up at home, who’s going to find out?
Still, the reality for many is that life has to go on. So if you're on Team Life-Goes-On, then consider these timely new drops for a hit of good ol’ nostalgia. That oughta drive away those nasty rona blues.
MB&F HM10 Bulldog
Here’s one that took the term ‘watchdog’ literally. Over the years, MB&F has done a frog (HM3), an owl (JWLRYMACHINE), a jellyfish (HM7), and now finally, man’s best friend. Completely three-dimensional, as all MB&F machines tend to be, the HM10 Bulldog is a menacing sight.
Its body, thick and stocky, is made of either titanium or red gold and titanium. The globular eyes, wide and bulging, crafted in aluminium and shielded by sapphire crystal. Its studded collar is what you use to wind up the mainspring, which extends the trusty canine’s jaw when fully wound.
Then there are its legs. All four of them are completely movable and they hug the wrist so snugly the watch is perfectly comfortable and secured at all times. $150,600 in titanium, or $172,100 in red gold and titanium.
A blast from the past, this digital watch really takes us back to the “futuristic” 70s when technology was just making its way into watches. The Hamilton Pulsar was one of the most emblematic timepieces of that era. Jack Nicholson, Joe Frazier, Elton John, and Keith Richards all wore one.
Today’s remake embraces that unmistakeable style using a hybrid display and stainless steel case in either gold or silver colour tones. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of that revolutionary first digital watch, it’s a cool and fun model for boomers wanting to relive the past a little, and for millennials looking to get their vintage groove on. Finally, something that both groups can agree on? $1,090 in steel, $1,490 in gold PVD steel.
Seiko Presage Studio Ghibli Porco Rosso Collaboration Limited Edition
Studio Ghibli fans, this one’s for you. And if you’ve always admired the Presage line’s devotion to traditional Japanese craftsmanship, you’ll love it even more. These limited edition timepieces are inspired by the 1992 animated comedy-adventure film Porco Rosso. With its vivid animation and masterful storytelling, it captured the romance of those early days of aviation like no other.
Embodying the spirit of the film and director Hayao Miyazaki’s affectionate depiction of Porco’s plane, a Savoia S-21, the two watches remind you of the beauty and individuality of the fictitious aircraft. One has a black enamel dial and the other, white enamel, both skilfully applied to evoke the warm beauty of materials used in the 1920s. In addition, Seiko pairs the black model with an automatic chronograph movement, while the white model features a Spring Drive calibre.
Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton
Like a wind-up toy, only more precious and fascinating. Jaquet Droz delivers its latest automaton timepiece featuring its famous albeit esoteric drawing titled Le papillon conduit par l’amour, or Butterfly driven by love. What makes this artwork all the more intriguing is that it was sketched by another automaton built by Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz in 1774.
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The artful Loving Butterfly Automaton complication breathes life into an animated nature scene. The butterfly’s wings flutter in time, placed close against the sapphire crystal to make it seem like the butterfly is about to break free and fly out of the scenery. Even the wheels on the chariot turn, but not all of the spokes rotate, which creates an optical illusion that Pierre Jaquet-Droz began using nearly three centuries ago. The figures are surrounded by a gold backdrop entirely crafted by hand. Each tree spans a mere 0.2 mm – its slender grooves carved one by one using purpose-designed tools– and is individually placed in its very own setting. _____________________ #jaquetdroz #novelties2020 #hautehorlogerie #watch #watches #timepiece #jaquetdrozwatches #dailywatch #watchesofinstagram #horology #swisswatch #luxury #instawatch #automaton #australian #petrifiedwood #chinchilla #butterfly
To make it go, just push the button on the crown, and you’ll set the wheels of the chariot spinning as the butterfly flaps its wings in earnest. Carved entirely in gold, the figurine sits atop a dial made of a special type of wood petrified 140 to 180 million years ago. Called Chinchilla Red, it goes back to the time of dinosaurs, making this watch not just a piece of art but a fragment of natural history. $201,000
SevenFriday x Rocketbyz M Series
One sure-fire way to brighten up your day? Deck out in fluorescent hues à la this limited edition piece conjured by concept designer Tomyboy. Now first things first, we know splashes of neon colours are not for everyone, but if they do rock your boat, you’re in for a special treat.
Dressed in three colourways, SevenFriday’s iconic M3/01 comes in a set including a pair of Off-Series sunglasses and a backpack, both exclusive to this collaboration. Even the box for the watch is extra cool, made of black EVA material just like the pouch for the sunglasses.
Sure there may not be any nightlife to speak of in the month ahead, but honestly we’re just here for the crazy ultraviolet colours. $2,890 for the set
Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10 Black Magic
Anyone here remembers Meccano? The Lego for left-brain thinkers, Meccano Micronoids provided hours of fun to anyone who’s not a millennial. Obviously the guys at Hublot were hoping to rekindle our passion for the iconic toy series, so they’ve created a series of different models powered by a Meccano-inspired movement, HUB1201, also known as the Meca-10.
This year the movement made it into the tonneau-shaped Spirit of Big Bang which offers a bigger, wider view of the unique inner mechanics. Note how Hublot had redesigned it to fit a barrel-shaped case, rather than simply plonking a round movement in. Also, we love how the 10-day power reserve is displayed via a linear scale in true Meccano style. $30,300 (titanium), $35,800 (Black Magic), $57,900 (King Gold)
Anderson & Chaykin Joker Automaton
Konstantin Chaykin shot to fame as the Russian watchmaker who made watches funny again with his Joker, Clown, and Dracula watches. Collaborating with Andersen Genève in this double-faced watch, he delivers his signature time and moon phase indication tagged to a big surprise.
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Born to make you smile
Created in collaboration with Svend Andersen @andersengeneve , the Joker Automaton performs a very important role in our complex, multifaceted and unpredictable world. It makes you smile.
Ready to have some fun? – Joker asks you, laughing from the dial. – Turn the watch!
On the reverse side you’ll see the emotional scene, the endgame of a hand of poker. Players show their cards – only the dog keeps a poker face, on the faces of others the feelings are read with ease. The joker eyes dart at the other players, grinning in a winning smile, Penguin arrogantly shows the hidden fourth king, and Poison Ivy has already understood everything, and quietly hides lost chips in a dress.
This watch cause almost everyone to smile. It is so unique that it went far beyond the strictly watch community and the interests of collectors in its popularity. Рождён, чтобы вызывать улыбку
Созданный в соавторстве со Свендом Андерсеном Джокер Автоматон выполняет очень важную роль в нашем сложном, многогранном и непредсказуемом мире. Он заставляет вас улыбнуться.
Готов немного подурачиться? – спрашивает тебя Джокер, смеющийся с циферблата. – Переворачивай часы!
С обратной стороны — эмоциональная сцена, финал покерной партии. Игроки открывают карты – покер-фейс удаётся только собаке, на лицах других чувства читаются с лёгкостью. Джокер стреляет глазами в других игроков, скалясь в победной улыбке, Пингвин самонадеянно выдвигает скрытого четвёртого короля, а Ядовитый плющ уже всё поняла, и незаметно прячет в платье проигранные фишки.
Эти часы вызывают улыбку практически у каждого. Они настолько уникальны, что вышли в своей популярности далеко за пределы строго часового сообщества и интересов коллекционеров. #konstantinchaykin #jokerautomaton #svendandersen #ahci
On the back of the watch, you’ll find an automaton scene reminiscent of Coolidge’s Dogs Playing Poker.
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Joker is one of the cards of the “Five of a Kind” combination, which is considered a sign of incredible luck. Konstantin Chaykin decorated bezel of the Joker watch case with symbols of this card combination; however, at first he couldn’t even imagine that his Joker would be at the poker table. However, this happened and happened in the Automaton Joker watch thanks to the Geneva watchmaker Svend Andersen, co-founder of the AHCI – Academy of Independent Watchmakers. The Automaton Joker is the result of the first in the history of watchmaking collaboration of the Russian and Swiss independent watchmakers. Svend Andersen @andersengeneve wanted to complement the ever-smiling Joker dial with a specially made automaton in which a dog, a penguin man, Joker and a pretty woman with fiery red hair would play poker. So the Joker by Konstantin Chaykin got his automaton on the case back of the gold watch case. ⠀ Джокер – одна из карт комбинации «большая пятёрка» (Five of a Kind), которую считают признаком невероятной удачи. Символами этой карточной комбинации Константин Чайкин украсил ободок корпуса часов «Джокер», однако, поначалу он и вообразить не мог, что его «Джокеру» предстоит оказаться за покерным столом. Тем не менее, это произошло, и произошло в часах «Джокер Автоматон» благодаря женевскому часовщику Свенду Андерсену, сооснователю Академии независимых часовщиков AHCI. «Джокер Автоматон» – результат первой в истории часового дела коллаборации российского и швейцарского независимых часовщиков. Свенд Андерсен захотел дополнить неизменно улыбающийся циферблат «Джокера» специально изготовленным им автоматоном, в котором собака, человек-пингвин, Джокер и красотка с огненно-рыжими волосами играли бы в покер. Так «Джокер» Константина Чайкина получил свой автоматон, который установлен на оборотной стороне золотого корпуса часов. #konstantinchaykin #jokerautomaton
You get the Dog from Anderson Genève, Chaykin’s Joker and several special guests (one looks curiously like Ariel the Little Mermaid and the other, some sort of demon barber from Fleet Street) at the poker table. But push the button at 8 o’clock and they all come “alive.” For around two minutes, the Joker sneaks a peek at the Dog’s hand, and demon guy flashes us his fourth card, while Ariel stuffs a bunch of chips down her bustier. What’s a few dollars among friends, eh?
PREVIOUS ROUND-UP: SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL WATCHES
You know how some things work in theory but not in reality? Sapphire crystal watches are quite the opposite. On paper, they shouldn’t work. Because in spite of its hardness and high scratch resistance (ranking just under diamond on the MOHS scale) sapphire crystal is extremely brittle. It can shatter when hit with the right amount of force, or even with just a gentle strike at the wrong angle.
But in real life, they are perfect in so many ways. Sapphire crystal watches are unbelievably comfortable, gorgeously see-through, and incredibly high-tech. We won’t lie; many if not most of them are prohibitively expensive and highly exclusive. This is due to the enormous manufacturing costs and complex manufacturing processes required to produce them.
Particularly when you’re looking at one with a sophisticated case shape riddled with curves and bevels. It means that the manufacture incurred a huge amount of crystal wastage in order to hand you this exceptional work of three-dimensional art.
Sapphire crystal watches are also utterly modern as luxury symbols, priced on par with many gold and platinum watches with diamonds all over. As expensive as it is, however, it’ll be the last thing on your mind. When you look at the ethereal beauty of its transparent case, and then the intricate movement enrobed within, the first thing that comes to your mind won’t be, “Wow that is such an expensive watch,” but “Wow I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in my life.”
Even if you think you’re a serious watch collector. Even if you’re typically all steel Rolexes and complicated Pateks. Even if you’re a total purist. In spite of everything you love and hold dear about horology, these sapphire crystal watches will take your breath away.
New for 2020, Chanel trades high-tech ceramic for sapphire crystal in this ultra-chic iteration of its iconic J12. Neither black nor white (Chanel’s spiritual colours) the J12 X-Ray is colourless and transparent. See right through the watch and even its movement. Calibre 3.1 was specially conceived for this spectacular timepiece.
Limited to just 12 examples, it is also the only sapphire crystal watch delivered on a bracelet in the same material. Each link here has been individually cut from raw sapphires. And then there are the diamonds, baguette cut of course, for a total of 5.46 carats. What a great way to celebrate the 20thanniversary of the J12.
Likewise, Girard-Perregaux traded gold for sapphire crystal in this spell-binding model. Adding a futuristic twist to the beloved three bridges by Girard Perregaux, which is a time-honoured classic in the hallowed realm of haute horlogerie, the watch’s Aerial Neo-bridges are sculpted in sapphire crystal. They arch across the movement in parallel, holding the barrel, going train, and balance wheel.
Just 18 Quasar Lights will be made, as each case is made from a single block of crystal. Sculpting and polishing its numerous curves took over 200 hours of work, plus hundreds of technically complex operations.
There is no other brand more accomplished in the production of sapphire crystal in watchmaking than Hublot. With its ice-cold beauty, the Big Bang Unico Sapphire is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg here, as Hublot wields numerous iterations other than clear “white” sapphire.
Red, blue, yellow, and a very special green sapphire called Saxem have been rendered in some of the most exciting cases ever, plus matching translucent rubber straps to boot.
Ever the materials innovator, Richard Mille was one of the earliest to have made watches in sapphire crystal. Indeed, this material has not always been easy to handle, trending only in these recent years thanks to improvements in machining technology. Yet as far back as 2012, Richard Mille had already released the RM056, which has since evolved into the RM56-02.
Ladies get their own version too, and dressed in colours like blue and pink no less. Surrounded by slender curves and multiple angles, the RM07-02 Pink Lady Sapphire Automatic reported took over 40 days and 800 hours to machine.
Admittedly one doesn’t immediately think of Greubel Forsey when one is thinking about sapphire crystal watches. The watchmaking geniuses at this independent atelier, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, are better known for their micro-mechanical concepts executed to horological perfection.
Their timepieces are practically tiny metropolises full of three-dimensional details and at all angles. For this reason alone, it is simply good logic for them to be cased in sapphire crystal. All the better to view the movements with.
Bell & Ross
For a watch of its heft, the BR-X1 would not be easy on most wrists, especially when done in solid metal. But once you strip it down to the bare essentials, as Bell & Ross had done with this sapphire crystal piece, it feels like you’re wearing nothing at all—in a good way.
Its complex case is made of five individually machined sapphire parts assembled and held together by working steel screws, as evinced by the perfectly misaligned screw heads.
For an independent brand, MB&F has done more to push the boundaries of watchmaking creativity than many of the market’s biggest players. Since its earliest days, this small but innovative powerhouse has been leading the way with sapphire crystal, introducing numerous sophisticated shapes and forms in almost all of its Horological and Legacy Machines. Models such as the HM6 SV Sapphire Vision, the HM9 Flow, as well as the HM7 Aquapod have been inspirational in the way they showcase the beauty of sapphire crystal.
You don’t have to be a fan of the Franck Muller Vanguard Skeleton to see why the Vanguard Skeleton Sapphire is such a good idea. The case, bezel and back are milled from a single block of crystal, a step that took the manufacture two months to accomplish. Then comes two more months to polish the signature tonneau-shaped case which is plastered with curves. White PVD skeletonised movement bridges add to its otherworldly aesthetic.
Before you start railing about how this watch collection isn’t actually made of sapphire crystal, we’ll say it first: These watches aren’t made of sapphire crystal, but rather, a transparent resin reminiscent of glaciers. Still they offer the same pristine beauty set against a rich, golden hue—again, not real gold. Always pushing the envelope in watch design, Casio G-Shock revisited a 1996 classic, reinterpreting it for the 21st century with these evergreen models.