A LITTLE WATCH HISTORY
Back before digital time displays were everywhere, a watch was primarily a tool, something people needed to wear or carry in order to live out their daily lives. Today, however, no one really needs a wristwatch to know the time, so the timepiece has evolved from something very utilitarian to an expression of personality, taste, and style.
The movement is the part of the watch that acts like its engine, powering the timekeeping function. There are two types.
Quartz are powered by a battery.
Mechanical timepieces are marvels of micro-engineering, with hundreds of internal parts often assembled by hand. Automatic movements self-wind, manual movements do not.
MECHANICAL VS. QUARTZ
Mechanical watches regulate and display the time using gears, springs, and balance wheels, while a quartz watch is electronic and often powered by a battery. In general, quartz watches are more accurate, while mechanical watches, since they are tiny engines on your wrist, are more poetic and captivating.
While a dedicated, professional sports watch, like the TAG Heuer Aquaracer, complements swimwear or a casual look, for a suit or a tuxedo, you need to don something more formal, and thinner, under that cuff.
In the same way, the MBIII BZ from Bremont is perfect for jeans and a button-down shirt, shorts and a polo, and it can work under the cuff of a sports coat or a suit.
How versatile a watch is all depends on how thick it is and if it looks out of place with your chosen ensemble.
There are no defined watch-wearing rules or etiquette, so put your own sense of style to work and on display.
TISSOT: THE SMARTEST NON-SMART WATCH
Even before watches that connect with your phone became all the rage, the smartest watch was undeniably the Tissot T-Touch. It boasted a host of functions previously unavailable in a timepiece, accessible via an innovative touch screen. The newest iteration is the T-Touch Expert Solar, powered by the sun and offering two time zones, two alarms, relative pressure, altimeter with altitude difference meter, chronograph lap and split with logbook, compass, timer, azimuth, regatta function, and a backlight. It’s also water resistant to 100 meters, and you don’t have to be connected to the Internet for it to work flawlessly. Perfect for trekking up that mountain, snorkeling in a secluded cove, or lunching in the center of town, the Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar is built to perform.
Bulgari is well-known as an Italian jewelry and luxury goods leader, but what most people don’t know is that Bulgari is one of the leading high-complication manufacturers in the watch industry.
Bulgari’s Swiss watch arm was opened in 1980 and the company has since focused on high complications in the Bulgari and Daniel Roth lines, including tourbillons, perpetual calendars, automatons, chiming watches, and more.
With its Roman origins, the Octo is one of its key collections, and pictured here is the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon. The tourbillon is one of watchmaking’s highest and most fascinating complications, and Bulgari puts it into a 40mm pink-gold case with a black lacquered dial.
AVANT GARDE: HUBLOT
For the longest time, watches were utilitarian, created to do the job of telling time, and that’s what they did without much fanfare.
Then, the Hublot Big Bang changed the way people viewed timepieces, featuring intriguing designs, materials, and colors. The most surprising Big Bang was the All Black, a watch that was impossible to read, underscoring the fact that today’s timepieces aren’t really about telling the time, but rather about revealing your personality, taste, and style. Hublot has progressed from there to develop its own movements, and even special materials and alloys.
An example of this is Magic Gold, a patent-protected material exclusive to Hublot that is virtually impossible to scratch. The secret formula for Magic Gold includes ceramic and 24-karat gold, making the Magic Gold case more than twice as hard as normal gold. Showcased here is the Big Bang Unico Full Magic Gold, a stunning piece that combines the cutting-edge design of the Big Bang, the high tech material Magic Gold, and the power of Hublot’s in-house chronograph movement, the Unico.
SPORTY STYLE: TAG HEUER
TAG Heuer’s advertising slogan is “Don’t Crack Under Pressure,” but that’s also the motto for the testing program at TAG. The torture chamber where TAG Heuer watches are pressured to destruction is quite impressive. Robotic machines drop watches and shower cases with perspiration, humidity, seawater, and more; straps and bracelets are torqued, pulled, and twisted; pushers are pushed millions of times; crowns are pulled out and pressed in; and cases are tested for water resistance down to 300 meters and more.The result: watches that can do just about anything in any condition, performing under pressure.
The TAG Heuer Caribbean Special Edition continues the trend TAG began four years ago, making models designed specifically for the Caribbean. Based on the popular Formula 1 model, the Caribbean Special Edition comes in his and hers versions—the men’s watch has a deep blue dial with a matching bezel, while the ladies style has a white dial and bezel. Both have a map of the Caribbean on the dial with “Caribbean Exclusive” engraved on the caseback.
With the widest watch choices ever available, women have never had it so good when it comes to purchasing a luxury timepiece.
There have always been plenty of chic designs and an array of colors in fashion collections, but now manufacturers are expanding the offerings with intricate details like mechanical movements and the moon-phase complication—extremely useful and romantic at the same time.
Until recently, most women’s watches were simply men’s styles made smaller and slightly adapted. But the major watch brands are wising up to the fact that, as the Chinese say, “Women hold up half the sky,” and are a watch-buying force to be reckoned with.
Today’s collections run the gamut from high design to mechanicals to the epitome of elegance, with many focusing on cutting-edge materials.
With so much choice finally available, it’s a good time to be a watch-buying woman.
NO MATTER WHAT YOUR STYLE IS, YOU CAN FIND A WATCH TO HELP YOU EXPRESS IT. THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO BUY A FINE TIMEPIECE.
HOW TO BUY
Whether you’re thinking of buying an inexpensive everyday watch or a limited-edition collector’s chronograph, the place where you make your purchase matters. Quality and authenticity vary widely in today’s marketplace, so buying from a business with the lowest prices might not be the wisest choice, particularly when it comes to watches. That’s where the authorized retailer comes in.
An authorized store is approved to sell the products of a particular brand, which means when you buy your watch it automatically comes with a full warranty and the retailer, as the brand’s local representative, will stand behind it.
Undoubtedly, the best watch to buy is going to be one that you’re excited to wear, one that fits your budget, and matches your lifestyle. Before you go to the store, think about the styles that stand out to you, how you want to use your timepiece, and where you want to wear it. Is it your first watch or are you adding to a collection? Looking for something dressy or more on the sporty side? The best retailers have well-trained sales associates who will help narrow down the answers to these types of questions in order to recommend your perfect match.
So, if you’ve been thinking about purchasing a luxury timepiece and didn’t know where to start—rest assured it’s not as complicated as it seems.
CLASSIC STYLE: ZENITH
Zenith has a long tradition of making excellent movements, the mechanical engines that make watches run. Arguably the most famous in the history of the watch industry is El Primero, an automatic chronograph movement that Zenith pioneered, introduced in 1969, which it still
produces today. In addition to the El Primero, Zenith also developed and manufactures the mechanical Elite movement.
Founded in 1865, the luxury brand is still housed in the same facility where it started in Le Locle, Switzerland, and as a result, tradition remains of utmost importance. The Zenith collections are an intriguing blend of traditional classics with cutting-edge movement technology.
Epitomizing this is the ultra-classic Elite 6150, reintroduced this year with an upgraded, 100-hour power reserve Elite movement. The new Elite timepiece comes in a 42mm steel case, with elegantly slender hands on a cambered, silver-tone dial, and the movement can be admired through the exhibition caseback.
HIGH DESIGN: CARTIER
Since its inception, Cartier has been a leader in design, with a customer-centric approach unlike any other company. For example, the Cartier Santos was created in 1904 specifically for the legendary aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. The Cartier Tank was designed in 1917, inspired by the bird’s-eye view of WWI tanks, the lugs extending from the side of the case like the treads of the tank. The first prototype was presented as a gift to General John J. Pershing. Most people associate the luxury label with exquisite jewelry, but as of late Cartier has established itself as a true watchmaker with impressive movement design and production facilities, even qualifying for the prestigious Geneva Seal Hallmark.
The new Clé de Cartier collection has accomplished the rare feat of introducing a new watch that seems to have been part of Cartier’s collection since the very beginning. Clé in French means “key,” and the name is inspired by the way the crown interacts with the watch and the user. The new crown juts out and can be turned to set the hours and minutes, or to wind the watch. It can then be pushed back in, integrating the blue sapphire flush to the crown piece with a satisfyingly audible click.
TRADITION: RAYMOND WEIL
Launched by the late Raymond Weil in 1976, his eponymous brand is one of the last independent watchmakers left in Switzerland. Inspired by music and driven by value, Raymond Weil has carried on its founder’s mission and tradition since his death in 2014. Now managed by Weil’s grandson, Elie Bernheim, the brand continues to turn heads with its combination of great design, high quality, and reasonable price.
To celebrate Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday on December 12, 2015, Raymond Weil, in association with Sinatra’s estate, has introduced a tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes with a limited edition of 1,212 timepieces. The blue indices, hands, and date window on the dial evoke the color of Sinatra’s eyes, while the caseback is engraved with his signature fedora.
The protective clear casing that covers the dial.
The outer part of the case that holds the crystal in place. Rotating bezels are often found on sports watches, to be used as a timing reference.
The watch strap, which can be made of anything, from leather or a range of metals to even rubber, a trend pioneered by Hublot.
The main shell that houses the dial and movement; typically made of a precious metal (silver, gold, platinum, or steel) but some watchmakers are experimenting with everything from space-age titanium to lightweight, scratch-resistant ceramic.
Used to wind the watch and set the time and date.
Anything beyond simply telling time, even something as seemingly simple as showing the date, is a complication. The challenge with complications is that they all run off the same power source, the mainspring, so managing the energy to run everything, while still precisely displaying the time, is a challenge.
The top three, most sought-after complications? The perpetual calendar (it knows the day, month and year for at least one hundred years), the tourbillon (a spinning, whirling beauty that fights against the negative effects of gravity), and the minute repeater (chimes out the hour, quarter hour, and minutes on demand).
Even more complicated are grand complications, which combine these and more in one timepiece.
Switzerland is the luxury watch center of the world, but it wasn’t always so. At one point, England was leading the way, then it was America for a time, but today Switzerland is the unquestioned leader.
Back in the 1500s, Geneva, Switzerland was the premier city for high-quality jewelry manufacturing, but when Calvinism took hold, the wearing of all jewelry was banned. Watches, however, were allowed, since they were deemed utilitarian. The Geneva jewelry makers switched to decorating and making watches, and the high-end Swiss watch industry was born. The craft spread from Geneva all the way up the spine of the Jura Mountains to Basel and beyond. Today, there are hundreds of watch manufacturers, well-known or relatively undiscovered, creating incredible pieces at every imaginable price point.
VINTAGE INSPIRED: BREMONT
Bremont was born from a love of fine, vintage airplanes and this infuses all the watches that it designs and produces. In fact, Nick and Giles English, brothers and founders, are both pilots and fly the vintage planes as often as they can.
Bremont works with a number of Air Force squadrons to produce custom timepieces, personalized with logos and mottos. In addition, Bremont is also Boeing’s official watch. The company has even created a limited-edition Wright Flyer that includes a piece of muslin from the original wing of the Wright brothers’ famous airplane.
Indicative of Bremont’s inspiration and style is the pictured ALT1-C Cream. The coloring is based on a traditional gentleman’s watch and has a mid-twentieth century sense of classic style, while the dial is inspired by an old fuel gauge from a Mosquito jet.