Time and tide wait for no man,” according to Geoffrey Chaucer, that renowned 12 century poet and wit, and neither does Christmas, bringing with it the perennial challenge of choosing quite the perfect present for your loved ones and in-laws. Luckily for chronophiles and lovers of haute horology everywhere, ‘tis also the season that heralds the advent of a veritable sledful of new releases from the world’s most respected luxury watchmakers.
While this certainly provides no shortage of choice, it can also prove somewhat daunting prospect, with eager givers obliged to scour a myriad of look books and slow-loading websites in order to identify just the perfect timepiece. Keen make your life a little easier over the festive period, we’ve singled out a few of the more outstanding examples of haute horology, all conveniently hitting the shelves just in time for you to festively gift-wrap them for a life partner or loved one.
Just as two luxurious timepieces are never quite the same, neither are those aficionados who truly covet them. Where one chronograph connoisseur might value aesthetics above all else, another heart may be set aflutter by functionality and precision. For those looking to play it safe, Chopard’s Imperiale Joaillerie watch pretty much covers all the requisite bases.
Meticulously crafted over 1,012 arduous watchmaking hours by keen artisans of the highest order, this is a lavishly dazzling timepiece and one quite unlike any other. Undeniably captivating, the watch is set with 581 sapphires – totalling 47.98 carats – that run the gamut from the subtler chromatic shades right through to a universe of blues, reds and yellows. This is a timepiece that needs to be seen at first hand to be truly appreciated. A genuine work of art, this 18 carat rose gold watch comes set with baguette-cut sapphires, creating a pleasingly chromatic aberration across the dial.
Every bit as impressive is the Chopard 01.03-C calibre that powers the Imperiale Joaillerie. Beating at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, it also boasts a 60-hour power reserve. Certainly not the choice for those apt to dodge the social spotlight, this is the perfect watch for those ladies who like to make an instant impression and who will resonate with its display of colour and glamour.
On the more demure end of the aesthetic scale comes watch that was the smallest circular timepiece available when it made its 1956 debut. The Blancpain Ladybird was a watch that revolutionised feminine timepieces 60 years ago. Since then, it has been subject to variety updates, as the marque sought to maintain its modernity and elegance, while never compromising its bold, ageless aesthetic.
The latest Ladybird is powered by the new automatic calibre 6150, and – at just 15.7 mm – it remains one of the smallest such watches the world has ever seen. Set with 32 diamonds atop its bezel, with eight diamonds ringing its dial and all fetchingly framed in white gold, this newest incarnation is as elegant as it is pioneering. Finished with a Louisiana alligator strap and a clear caseback – allowing a view of the intriguing inner workings of the winding rotor – the Ladybird remains a truly classic timepiece.
Another classic to have undergone something of a modern makeover is the Tank Solo. Unmistakeably Cartier, this elegant timepiece features the marque’s iconic square watch face, all adorned with the company’s instantly recognisable Roman numeral hour indicators. Distinguished yet modest, the Tank Solo is available in a more feminine 31mm edition or in a resolutely 40.85mm edition, with both encased in stainless steel and displaying a silvered opaline dial, as well as the brand’s unique sword-shaped blue steel hands.
Although the Tank Solo is the last word in simplicity and elegance, an added frisson of customisability comes in its choice of interchangeable straps, with options ranging from the earthier pantone shades to bright zesty hues. These ensuring that the wearer can express a flash of individuality, while also ensuring that your watchband never clashes with your evening’s overall ensemble.
Another truly iconic timepiece – and one that has proved a benchmark in the luxury watch sector ever since its 1979 debut – is the Piaget Polo S. As its name more than suggests, this particular watch takes its styling from the equestrian pastime so beloved by the affluently sporty, with its opulent aesthetic a clear nod to the game that inspired it.
A playful take on geometric patterns, the Polo S houses a cushion-shaped dial within a round stainless steel case, tastefully completed with the addition of a sapphire case back. Discernible through the rear sapphire mounting is Piaget’s 1110P or 1160P automatic movement (depending on the model specified). All sized at 42mm, the Polo S is available in five variants, coming in a choice of appliqués with the option of several different chronographic functions. All of the editions, however, come with a steel bracelet with alternating polished and satin links, a fine finish to its ruggedly elegant look.
Our final offering in this festive round up of fine watches comes courtesy of a brand long synonymous with true horological beauty. From Itay’s Maison Bulgari comes the Octo Ultranero range of timepieces, a range that exudes an air of almost arcane sophistication, while sacrificing nothing in the way of functionality.
With a striking and powerful black overall motif, these watches are powered by the brand’s proprietary Solotempo BVL 193 movement, vibrating at a frequency of 28,800 per hour and with power reserve of more than 50 hours. In fetching contrast to the black dial and black rubber strap is piece’s rose gold detailing – most notably, its hour markers and hands – that adds a touch of refinement to the wilfully bleak functionality of this highly practical watch. With four different models to choose from, these are timepieces that look every bit as good at a black tie event as they do on the deck of your personal yacht. All in all, the perfect marriage of form and function and, of course, that unmistakeable air of Bulgari sophistication.