Enamel Polish: Intricately crafted grand feu dials take timepieces into another dimension

Enamel timepieces represent some of the most elegant and beautiful models available in the high-end watch market. The process of constructing an enamel dial is time-consuming and expensive. It involves fusing soft glass – usually made from silica – onto a metal substrate in an oven heated to about 800°C – hence the term grand feu enamel – and delicately applying layers of enamel powder by paintbrush onto a wafer-thin metal disc.

It is a temperamental material that may emerge from the oven with imperfections. Successive coats and multiple firing cycles are required for a uniform surface – the need for five or more layers of enamel is usual. Yet, the watch dials can be just a millimetre thick, if not thinner. The craft takes years of practice and often renders each dial unique.

A fine example of a dazzling enamel watch is Vacheron Constantin’s recent addition to its Métiers d’Art collection. Tribute to Explorer Naturalists embraces, in fact, four models each released in 10-piece limited editions and designed as a tribute to the scientific discoveries of the Voyage of the Beagle in the early 1830s. The dexterity of the master engravers and enamellers comes to the fore in the aesthetics of richly decorated grand feu miniature enamel dials displaying scenes from four locations along the coast of South America, where Charles Darwin encountered previously unknown plants and animals.

Encased in a 41-mm diameter 18-carat white or pink gold case and featuring a jumping hours and minutes display, each scene took a master enameller four days of meticulous craftsmanship to compose, using fine pigments on a two-level dial. For instance, the white-gold Cap-Vert model concentrates on the Cape Verde stop (January 1832), with the upper dial displaying the HMS Beagle in the centre, viewed from the stern, while the lower dial on the right enthrals with a montage of colourful flowers and luxuriant foliage.

Breguet’s Classique Dragon 7145 celebrates the Chinese zodiac with the powerful dragon exotically embellishing a distinctive dial composed of red grand feu enamel with gold applied – a perfect combination to bring out the majesty of the auspicious creature. Utilising a Calibre 502.5 self-winding movement housed in a rose-gold case, the watch is limited to eight pieces and blessed with a power reserve of 45 hours.

Chopard often calls upon the power of the enamellist to highlight the aesthetic qualities of a watch. Take its Imperiale in 18-carat ethical white gold, which has two enamel colour tones gracing the dial. Most noticeably, a deep, luscious blue-green enamel sets the tone of this feminine watch, which is encircled by white enamel-filled arabesques formed out of a raised white-gold decorative fillet. Its elegance is enhanced by a shower of padparadscha sapphires, diamonds and mother-of-pearl, as well as gilded openwork dagger-shaped hour and minute hands. A seamless alligator strap in blue-green or pink comes with a white-gold buckle set with diamonds.

Representing a first for the minimalist Louis Erard Le Régulateur model, an edition just off the blocks has a dial made with grand feu enamel. Unlike a traditional dial, an enamel dial comes without the risk of fading and the unalterable hue here is a slightly speckled ivory colour. It is the handiwork of the Donzé Cadrans workshop in Le Locle, Switzerland. The hours counter at 12 o’clock and the seconds counter at 6 o’clock come in two-colour enamel detail, fused together by the final firing. Crafted in polished stainless steel and measuring 39 mm in diameter, Le Régulateur Grand Feu Enamel is limited to 99 pieces, underscoring the exclusivity of enamel-dial watches.

Dedicated to métiers d’art, Geneva-based Taos has a range of one-of-a-kind watches that employ the luxuriousness of enamel. The Euphorie is dressed in a grand feu paillonné enamel dial, achieved through a multiple overlay of gold and silver paillons and enamel emanating from multiple firings. Its bold colour code comprises red, orange and black. The self-winding VOP318 calibre movement was developed exclusively by Swiss manufacturer Télôs for the independent watchmaker. The pretty Floréal model has a silver, blue and pink dial with a miniature flower painting etched out of mother-of-pearl placed on paillonné enamel. Delightful petals are formed out of cloisonné enamel.

The pink-gold Reverso Tribute Enamel ‘Dragon’ timepiece was released by Jaeger-Lecoultre in homage to the ancient crafts of enamelling and engraving. Both the dial and case back are composed of grand feu enamel in such a pure black hue that they required five or six layers of enamel to ensure the depth of colour is retained. This was a lengthy process as each new layer necessitated another round of firing and cooling – meaning the process took many days, eventually culminating in a half-day of polishing. Other notable features include the dragon etched out of pink gold and set among golden clouds on the reverse side of the case and the Jaeger-LeCoultre manually wound Calibre 822 movement.

Limited to 50 pieces, Blancpain’s Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar entered its second 12-year cycle this year with a new addition utilising full-fired grand feu enamel for its dial. Marking a first for this unique grand complication series that boasts both a complex Chinese calendar and a Gregorian date and moonphase, it pairs red gold with a green enamel dial for a striking colour code. The patented under-lug correctors that facilitate finger-tip changes of the calendar are also worthy of remark. Another nifty mechanism protects from damage if settings are adjusted during automatic changes.

Cartier’s latest Crocodile Jewellery watches utilise the aesthetics and magical beauty of enamel to full effect. Graded enamel is used to recreate a sculptural creature in the guise of a crocodile which coils menacingly around the case and dial. The crocodile’s bright emerald eye, its scaly skin and slick curves crafted from enamel portray depth and realism and harmonise with the hues emanating from diamonds and gemstones adorning the timepiece. Besides a crocodile and a crocodile-cum-zebra, there are numerous other iterations of these bewitching, bejewelled animal watches that cannot fail to capture the imagination.

Seiko’s Presage SPB403J1 model in the Craftmanship Series features an enamel dial as part of its attributes, wedged in a 40.2-mm case made of stainless steel with super-hard coating. Its dual-curved sapphire crystal glass is daubed with anti-reflective coating on its inner surface. Powered by a 6R55 automatic manually wound movement with a power reserve of 72 hours, it is water resistant to a depth of 100 metres and has a see-through case back.

The Fifty Fathoms family welcomes a new member!

Blancpain introduces a new addition to the Fifty Fathoms family with the unveiling of its latest 42 mm-diameter Fifty Fathoms Automatique models. These new models, available in red gold and titanium, carry forward the legacy of the iconic Fifty Fathoms collection that revolutionized watchmaking in 1953 as the first true diver’s watch.

Turning point in watchmaking

The Fifty Fathoms marked a turning point in watchmaking history. It established the fundamental technical and aesthetic codes for this type of tool-watch. Its sturdiness, water-resistance, secure rotating-bezel system, anti-magnetism and extreme legibility are all features designed specifically for scuba diving that have endured to this day.

Thanks to President & CEO Marc A. Hayek’s passion for diving, the Fifty Fathoms was revived in 2003 and further enhanced in 2007 with the introduction of the 45 mm Fifty Fathoms Automatique featuring the innovative Calibre 1315 movement.

Watch enthusiasts wishing to own high-performance Calibre 1315 will be delighted to know that the Manufacture is now offering the 42 mm diameter in its current collection with the new Fifty Fathoms Automatique models.

Elegance and sophistication

Available in red gold and grade 23 titanium and retaining their predecessor’s pleasing proportions, these watches combine elegance with sophistication. The gold models exude luxury, while the titanium versions offer a sporty aesthetic combined with with anti-scratch and anti-corrosion qualities, alongside its anti-allergenic properties.

The collection’s characteristic sapphire-topped bezel is also synonymous with robustness and ensures impeccable legibility. Beating at the heart of these new Fifty Fathoms Automatique watches is Calibre 1315: a movement boasting unrivalled chronometric (precision timing) performance and that is designed, built, produced, assembled and adjusted in-house.

Variety of options

This calibre entirely decorated in keeping with Haute Horlogerie traditions has an 18K red gold oscillating weight – also decorated and sporting an NAC coating – whose design is inspired by the rotor of the historical 1953 timepiece.

With options for blue or black dials and a variety of straps(in matching colours), including a titanium bracelet, these new models cater to diverse preferences and offer precise time-setting with a stop-seconds function.

The new, non-limited Fifty Fathoms Automatique red gold or grade 23 titanium timepieces look set for a bright future.

Out of Pocket: Contemporary watches on a chain – or car dashboard – to wear or display with pride

The history of modern watchmaking began with the classic pocket watch so beloved by people of a certain standing in society and releasing them from the constraints of the public clock tower. These timepieces undoubtedly held a particular charm and are now much sought after by collectors. Many top manufactures continue to roll out fine pocket watches for their growing legion of admirers.

Cartier, which first turned its hand to such watches in 1853, now produces the Rotonde de Cartier Grande Complication Skeleton pocket watch. Set in a frame hewed from rock crystal with traces of black obsidian and white gold, it is powered by a 9506 automatic movement comprising 578 parts including 44 rubies in a skeletonised style that allows admirers to view its mechanical sophistication – minute repeater, flying tourbillon and perpetual calendar – and elegant aesthetics.

Coming in two versions, the white-gold model has a beaded crown set with a cabochon-cut sapphire, a colour picked up by blued-steel apple-shaped hands, while the other iteration dazzles with 263 baguette-cut diamonds on its case, 111 baguette- cut diamonds on its dial, and a diamond on the crown for a grand total of 27 carats.

Among IWC’s contemporary pocket watches is a precious homage to its original Pallweber pocket watch released in 1885. The limited-edition Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” timepiece evokes the original pocket watch but comes with large digital hours and minutes displayed in windows.

The instrument, which is attached to an 18-carat red-gold chain, boasts a red-gold case and a white lacquered dial with black-printed white display discs and blued seconds hands. Its convex glass sapphire has an antireflective coating on both sides. Even when the pocket watch is closed, the time can be read thanks to two windows in the spring cover.

Blancpain’s standout pocket watch is the ultra-slim Montre De Poche Demi-Savonnette, a Métiers d’Art creation available in three variants. Classically elegant, its white grand-feu enamel dial is ensconced within a 9 mm-thick red-gold case that measures 44.5 mm in diameter. Resplendent through the sapphire caseback, the 151B manual movement – which is only 2.2 mm thick – has 40 hours of power reserve.

A one-of-a-kind piece of high jewellery and haute horlogerie, The Ultimate Quadri Tourbillon pocket watch by Harry Winston has four independent tourbillons on its dial that rotate counterclockwise in 36 seconds. It is adorned with an 18-carat white-gold chain and 254 baguette- cut diamonds on a matching case, while its calibre HW4703 movement is also blessed with 95 jewels.

In fact, the total gem-setting for this collector’s item amounts to 272 baguette-cut diamonds of about 27 carats as well as an emerald-cut diamond and a brilliant-cut ruby.

Among 12 pocket watches displayed last year as part of the Rare Handcrafts collection at Patek Philippe’s Geneva salon was the “Leopard” ref. 995/137J-001, adorned with wood marquetry, hand engraving and champlevé enamel. The image of a leopard emerges from the darkness on its caseback – a wonderful artistic creation derived from different species of wood with varying colours, textures and veining.

The spectacle is complemented by a pattern of tropical foliage inset with black enamel hand-engraved on the border of the caseback, the bezel on the dial side and the bow. The black-tinted tulipwood dial stands in beautiful contrast to a crown embellished with a yellow sapphire.

In homage to its 1932 pocket chronograph, Omega produced three editions (100 pieces each) of the Olympic Pocket Watch 1932 Rattrapante Chronograph utilising unassembled chronograph movement kits that had been in storage for 80 years.

These timepieces come in 18-carat yellow, white and red gold to mimic the colours of the Games’ gold, silver and bronze medals. The original 1932 pocket chronograph was used as a stopwatch in the Los Angeles Olympics that year.

A particularly novel reinterpretation of yesteryear’s timepiece is the Hublot MP-03 Pocket Watch, which takes the traditional hanging pendant- type format but morphs the case into the shape of a bullet. Time is told by a horizontal tourbillon with three rotating wheels visible through the case aperture. The watch can be worn as a necklace or attached to a bag, belt and wrist strap.

Vacheron Constantin has created a bespoke timepiece at the behest of a client who adores fine watches and luxury cars. While boasting aesthetic similarities to a pocket watch, Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon fits into the fascia of a motorcar – the Rolls- Royce Amethyst Droptail to be exact.

Its mechanical self-winding movement has a bi-retrograde display with the instantaneous return of the hours and minutes, reminiscent of the sweep hands on traditional speedometers. These hands are made of titanium, while the case is stainless steel, the main plate brass rhodium opaline, and the dial sapphire crystal.

Panerai’s Pocket Watch Tourbillon GMT Ceramica 59mm was released in a special limited edition of 50 pieces and retains the brand’s water- resistance tradition, plunging securely to a depth of 30 metres. Its chain, likewise, has a nautical appearance. A sapphire case reveals the skeletonised P.2005/S calibre with a six-day power reserve, a version of Panerai’s first in-house tourbillon movement launched in 2007. Interestingly, 12 rods link the case to the movement, giving the impression the latter is suspended in the centre of the device.

Special supports can transform the pocket watch into a table clock once the attached chain is removed – which is detached with ease simply by pressing a small button. The single links of the chain itself are linked by universal joints which guarantee greater resistance and at the same time provide maximum flexibility. The chain is attached to the case by a skeleton device shaped like the characteristic bridge that protects the winding crown of other Panerai timepieces.

Depth Charge: Underwater watches that go below and beyond sports needs

Diving the depths of the oceans requires skill and daring and the ability to assess the passing of time. Submerging with the right watch is crucial and the latest watertight instruments provide timely assurance and robust good looks for adventurers.

The Oyster Perpetual Submariner and Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date epitomise the historic link between Rolex and underwater exploration. Launched in 1953, the Submariner was the first diver’s wristwatch waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). A version with a date function, the Submariner Date, followed 16 years later. Contemporary models can plunge securely to 300 metres.

The unidirectional rotatable bezel is equipped with a 60-minute graduated monobloc Cerachrom insert – in black, blue or green, depending on the version – that allows divers to monitor their time underwater. This patented insert is made of an extremely hard, virtually scratchproof ceramic whose colour is unaffected by ultraviolet rays. In addition, the high-tech ceramic is inert and cannot corrode.

Omega’s ocean story began with the Omega Marine in 1932, the world’s first diver’s watch available to civilians. Characterised by its double case design sealed with cork, the superb water resistance of that timepiece paved the way for the brand’s diving future.

To survive the toughest conditions, Omega created a Concept Ultra Deep watch in 2019 that included indestructible features, such as a case completely machined out of forged grade 5 titanium, robust ‘Manta lugs’ that provided an innovative way of securing the watch to its strap, and a sapphire face with a conical loadbearing design.

The release of the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep collection last year allowed all underwater enthusiasts to feel like a professional aquanaut. Seven models, measuring 45.5mm in diameter and water-resistant to 6,000 metres (20,000 feet), are led by a bold version crafted in sand-blasted and forged grade 5 titanium.

Blancpain claims the honour of introducing the first modern dive watch 70 years ago. Revolutionising watchmaking, the Fifty Fathoms was conceived by passionate scuba diver Jean-Jacques Fiechter, then the brand’s CEO.

The 50th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms saw the arrival of a contemporary version, and 20 years later, the homage continues in a new model, the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa, with a high-tech instrument that makes it possible for the first time to measure up to three-hour immersion times. Designed to meet today’s technical diving requirements, the bezel boasts a three-hour scale that is linked to a special hand that completes one full turn in three hours.

The Panerai story is one of innovation in the service of creating tools for marine adventure. The newly released Submersible QuarantaQuattro is water resistant as far down as 300 metres, thanks to the patented crown-protecting device that is inextricably linked to the Italian watchmaker’s history. A unidirectional rotating bezel to measure submersion time and metallic appliques filled with white SuperLumiNova make the watch an indispensable diving instrument.

The first diving watch Bremont ever produced was the 43mm Supermarine 500, back in 2009. This robust timepiece met the criteria of brand co-founders Nick and Giles English – beautifully engineered, practical in design and also tied to its strong aviation heritage. A new entrant to the range is the Supermarine S501, which has drawn direct inspiration from the S301 released in 2017. The more vintage feel was a big differentiator within this series and it has proved incredibly popular. The thicker crystal case was critical to ensure the watch could still reach depths of 500 metres.

Swiss watchmaker Doxa developed the SUB 200 C-Graph II to fulfil the role of a tool watch on high-risk submersions such as cave dives. With a more contemporary diameter of 42mm and a reduced thickness of 15.85mm, it offers the same functionality and features as its larger 45mm sibling presented in 2020 and is also made of the highest quality 316L stainless steel.

Seiko has introduced a diver’s watch that commemorates five of the world’s highest peaks by Japanese adventurer Naomi Uemura. On the textured dial of the Prospex 1970 Diver’s The Naomi Uemura Limited Edition is an image of the contours of Mont Blanc, the first of Uemura’s climbs.

Blancpain unveils dazzling Ladybird watch collection

Blancpain has released The Ladybird collection of feminine watches to add another fine range to its long history of ladies’ watches stretching back to 1930.

The Ladybird Colors – lilac, peacock green, forest green, turquoise and midnight blue – feature on Roman numerals as part of the textured mother-of-pearl dial which is set with 70 diamonds. With two new small seconds and moon phase complications, by playing with colour combinations Blancpain has added a vibrancy to its collection, and variations of these colours are picked up on the straps of red or white gold models.

The ultra-elegant and colourful nature of these timepieces comes with jewellery designed to bring out mechanical watchmaking at its finest. Their individuality is underlined by the offset Roman numerals which are underscored by an inner ring adorned with delicately tapering gemsetting that is also on the small seconds and moon-phase indicators. At a diameter of 34.9 mm, the case of the new Ladybird Colors models contains diamonds amounting to more than two carats. This is high-end gemsetting in which each parameter is hand-adjusted.

These watches tick gently to the beat of Calibre 1163 for the small seconds version and Calibre 1163L for the moon-phase iteration. Endowed with a four-day power reserve and a silicon balance spring, they are designed to keep track of daily life with a blend of accuracy, comfort and style.

7 stunning dive watch models that blend beautiful form with true functionality

Once upon a (not so long ago) time, dive watches were predominantly tools of necessity. Given the inherent dangers and limitations of the pastime – limited oxygen supply, underwater pressure, restricted visibility – they were vital safety aids that kept divers alive. So, these timepieces historically catered to the unique challenges of the sport. In 1926, Rolex developed the Oyster, the first hermetically-sealed waterproof wristwatch. Six years later, Omega developed the Marine, capable of withstanding depths of up to 135m.

Today, however, such wrist adornments are more often worn as statement pieces rather than underwater assistants. Be that as it may, the world’s leading watchmakers remain dedicated to crafting durable, legible and eminently usable diving chronometers that are as elegant as they are functional. Here, we highlight seven particular standout models worthy of attention.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantième Complet

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Photo: Blancpain

First on our list is Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantième Complet, the latest interpretation of its 1956-released Fifty Fathoms dive watch. Kitted out with a full annual calendar complication, it nevertheless maintains its roots as a diving aid, boasting heightened durability with its titanium grade 23 alloy case, as well as an almost industrial all-grey, fully matte look. It’s also equipped with a unidirectional rotating bezel with a 60-minute scale to time dives, with the calibre 6654.P self-winding movement churning out a generous 72-hour power reserve.

Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro Bianco

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Photo: Panerai

Similarly drawing from its rich history is Panerai with the Submersible QuarantaQuattro Bianco. While the Submersible only debuted as a solo model in 1998, the design harks back to watches made for the Egyptian Navy back in 1956. Featuring the iconic circle-in-a-square shaped case, it comes fitted with a calibre P.900 movement and can withstand depths of 300m. An olive-green strap rounds out a vintage-inspired utilitarian aesthetic.

 

Also Read: Make a date with one of these fabulous perpetual calendar watches

 

Oris Aquis NY Harbor Limited Edition

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Photo: Oris

Swiss-based Oris has also embraced a verdant look for its Aquis NY Harbor Limited Edition. The watchmaker is known for championing environmental sustainability projects across the globe; in this instance, profits from the 2,000-piece release are earmarked for the Billion Oyster Project, an initiative launched in hopes to reseed that number of oysters into New York waters. The watch features a yellowy-green mother-of-pearl dial that’s burnished with super legible Super-LumiNova-coated hour markers and hour and minute hands, all housed in a 41.5mm steel case and powered by an automatic calibre 400 movement.

Richard Mille RM 032 Voiles de Saint Barth

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Photo: Richard Mille

For something more outré, Richard Mille unveiled the RM 032 Voiles de Saint Barth at the 11th Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille regatta in April. Characterised by an eye-catching Caribbean blue-on-white Quartz TPT aesthete, it offers optimal water resistance and durability thanks to the grade 5 titanium case middle. Blending a plethora of colours to increase legibility, the over-sized 60-minute counter rotating bezel makes for equally easy viewing. Limited to just 120 pieces, this technical timepiece is certified to withstand pressures to a depth of 300m.

IWC Aquatimer Automatic

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Photo: IWC

A more minimalist approach comes courtesy of IWC’s latest Aquatimer Automatic, available with either a blue or black dial and the buyer’s choice of rubber strap or steel bracelet. Powered by the brand-new calibre 32111 movement, the 42mm dive watch eschews the traditional external rotating bezel in favour of an internal printed 60-minute scale lining the angled flange of the dial edge, thereby doing away with a secondary crown and minimising the risk of water creeping in.

 

Also read: Bare-faced Glory: The timeless allure of skeletonised dials

 

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller

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Photo: Rolex

The next entrant, Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller, may not be so recent a release as others on our line-up, but it still merits particular mention. Crafted from Rolesor, its triple waterproof system allows this timepiece to withstand waters as much as 1,220m deep. A staggering feat of engineering indeed.

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Titanium

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Photo: Omega

That, however, pales in comparison to Omega’s Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Titanium. As befits the final sub-aquatic timepiece on our list, it serves up an unimaginable water resistance to a depth of 6,000m – a greater drop than from the tallest mountain in Europe. It was this very watch, albeit in a concept form, that was strapped onto the Limiting Factor submarine during its record-breaking dive to 10,925m back in 2019. Painstakingly crafted from sandblasted grade 5 titanium and fitted with an athletic Nato-style strap, this timepiece stylishly represents the very pinnacle of dive watch-making.

 

Also read: Celebrating the timeless allure of the moon-phase complication

Dual Exordium: Blancpain’s new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantième Complet

Putting our attention towards a timepiece that boasts warmth, comfort and utility, Swiss luxury horologist Blancpain introduces two new faces for the Fifty Bathyscaphe Quantième Complet that presents itself as a lesson in style and functionality.

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Bringing together two emblematic Blancpain universes into one model by combining the maison’s Bathyscaphe sporting DNA with its professionally minded Fifty Fathoms, two become one in a noble redesign.

Looking back, the Bathyscaphe line has seen several redesign since its inception in 2013. While its classic form remains largely unchanged, this new model comes measures 43 mm and arrives in either a red gold case with a sunburst blue-gradient dial or a 23-grade titanium case with matching anthracite dial.

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The blue dial is framed by a unidirectional rotating bezel with a brilliant blue ceramic inlay and regal Ceragold™ time scale. Meanwhile, the titanium version showcases subtle shades of grey on its matt athracite dial, elevated by gold hour-markers, rhodium-plated hands and moon, and framed with satin-brushed anthracite ceramic bezel and graduated Liquidmetal™ scale.

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Featuring a day of the week, month and date indicator, and a moon phase positioned in a large window at 6 o’clock, this three-handed chronograph, which is waterproof up to approximately 300 m, serves the perfect utility watch for the active gentleman looking to sport a timepiece that is both functional and stylish.

Powered by 6654.P self-winding movement, this chronometer is protected by a security system that enables the wearer to handle each indication at any time without any risk to the movement. This is a unique feature that stands out among the slew of other calendar watches available on the market.

 

For more information, please visit www.blancpain.com

Dive In: Dazzling timepieces that thrive underwater

Since the dawn of the 20th century, burgeoning interest in oceanic exploration saw the rise of diving as both a science and a sport. And long before the advent of computers and other technologically-driven equipment, dive watches were right there to help these intrepid explorers in their aquatic endeavours, primarily to precisely measure time spent by a diver underwater. 

 “Oceanic explorations  have inspired the creation of a wide selection of luxuriously elegant dive watches”

These days, though, their popularity has spilled over into the general leisure domain, sparking a slew of quasi-counterfeit ‘dive watches’. To combat this, the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) has set guidelines and testing parameters that comprise a real dive watch. The true haute horology titans, though, have consistently produced technologically advanced wrist adornments that can not only withstand the oceanic depths, but that look good doing so. Below are seven of the latest standouts. 

Dive In Dazzling timepieces that thrive underwater gafencu magazine Ulysee Nardin's Diver Net

First up is Ulysse Nardin’s all-new Diver Net. A novel approach sparked the creation of this innovative design, with the brand looking to the sea for materials with which to enhance the watch in a truly sustainable fashion. This sees everything from its R-Straps and bezel to case and caseback crafted from recycled fishing nets, with even the crystal manufactured from recycled oceanic plastic. Under the hood beats an UN-118 movement that sees the black-on-green watch function to depths of up to 300m. 

Dive In Dazzling timepieces that thrive underwater gafencu magazine Blancpain's fifty fathoms bathysaphe chronograph flyback

Another brand utilising a similar colour motif is Blancpain in the form of its Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback. The first green version of this particular model, its dial and bezel boasts an almost military camouflage aesthetic. With an eye to ensuring safety, its 43.6mm case is crafted from satin-brushed ceramic, a highly scratch-resistant, anti-reflective material that bequeaths a sturdy robustness. Water resistant to 30 bar, its F385 calibre flyback chronograph movement is precise to 1/10 per second when timing events. A 50-hour power reserve completes its chrono diver appeal. 

Dive In Dazzling timepieces that thrive underwater gafencu magazine bell & ross' br 03-92 diver orange

Next, watchmaker Bell & Ross has expanded its DIVER collection with the BR 03-92 DIVER ORANGE. If the PR materials are to be believed, this 250-piece limited release’s eye-catching colour was chosen to reflect ‘the visual codes associated with maritime safety’ and to guarantee ‘optimal reading time’. Burnished with the brand’s iconic square-shaped face, its 60-minute calibrated uni-directional rotating bezel affords divers the ability to precisely monitor their dive times. In all, it’s an intelligent design that unsurprisingly meets the ISO’s latest standards. 

Dive In Dazzling timepieces that thrive underwater gafencu magazine panerai submersible azzuro - 42mm

Equally placing durability at its core is the Panerai Submersible Azzuro – 42mm, Panerai’s most robust dive watch to date. Here, its movement is safely tucked away behind a screwed caseback, while a bridge device similarly protects the crown from any encroaching water. Water resistant to 1,000ft, its matte black dial is further punctuated with a date aperture and a small-seconds subdial. Available solely through the brand’s e-commerce channel, just 500 pieces will be released. 

Dive In Dazzling timepieces that thrive underwater gafencu magazine omega's seamaster diver 300m chronograph

Embracing a more outré aesthetic is OMEGA in the form of its Seamaster Diver 300M Chronograph. Combining titanium, tantalum and the brand’s proprietary rose gold alloy, Sedna gold, the result is a pink and blue feast for the eyes. Water resistant to 300m, the side of each Numbered Edition’s 44mm case comes emblazoned with its unique number. To highlight its aquatic nature, the timepiece even comes with a special presentation box styled like a water-resistant chamber. 

Dive In Dazzling timepieces that thrive underwater gafencu magazine tudpr n;acl bay fifty-eight navy blue

Returning to a more traditional blue-hued dial is Tudor’s Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue”. The ‘Fifty-Eight’ here is a reference to the year it released its first-ever divers’ watch waterproof to 200m. This new 39mm model comes with a blue domed dial ringed with a matte blue 60-minute uni-directional rotating bezel. Powered by a Calibre MT5402 movement that affords a generous 70-hour power reserve, it can be fitted with three different types of straps. 

Oyster Perpetual Submariner 2020

Sister brand Rolex – who created the world’s first hermetically-sealed watch back in 1927 – has also unveiled a new avatar of its iconic dive watch, the Rolex Submariner. First introduced in 1953, it has now been updated to a slightly larger 41mm case, replete with the cutting-edge calibre 3230 movement also introduced earlier this year. Fully waterproof to depths of 300m, its black dial is ringed with a black rotatable bezel with a Cerachrom insert – a virtually scratchproof and corrosion-resistant material – deft touches that highlights the watchmaker’s continually keen understanding of divers’ needs. 

 

Valentine’s Day Gift: Best ways to express an eternal love

If you’re at a loss for that perfect Valentine’s Day gift to wow that special lady in your life, fear not, for we at Gafencu have shortlisted some of the most dazzling, bejewelled gems that are sure to have them floored.

Cartier

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Cartier, that most exclusive of haute joaillerie brands, has launched several new creations as part of its Panthère de Cartier collection. With the panther being a style statement for over a hundred years, it is reminiscent of love’s   timelessness. The collection includes jewellery, accessories and perfumes that can be worn everyday making each a meaningful and practical addition to any fashionista’s collection.

Valentine's Day gift

Boucheron

If all Valentine’s Day jewellery were to be personified, the ones from the luxury brand Boucheron can be seen as an outspoken person. With each different collection – Quatre, Jack de Boucheron, Plume de Paon and Pivoine – created to express something unique, the bijouterie from the French maison reflects romance without question. For instance, the Jack de Boucheron collection which is made of flexible gold wires –  giving room to endless creations – represents indefinite freedom.

Valentine's Day gift

Omega

Comparing love to wings that can help you reach new heights, Swiss luxury watchmaker Omega has ringed its iconic De Ville Trésor watches with a feathered motif. The 2020 Valentine’s Day iterations come in two avatars, including a blue co-axial master chronometer with 18K white gold markings on the dial for men and a Quartz 36mm with diamonds mounted on the bezel for women. What better Valentine’s Day gift than a timepiece to remind you that every moment with your loved ones is precious.

Valentine's Day gift

Blancpain

Every year without fail, Swiss watchmaker Blancpain has created feminine timepieces that celebrate Valentine’s Day, and this year is no exception. The “Valentine’s Day 2020” special watch is remarkable, featuring a white gold rectangular frame studded with diamonds and a mother-of-pearl dial embellished with diamonds and rubies. Limited to only 14 pieces, this celebratory timepieces takes its inspiration from a cocktail watch that was originally owned by the well-known screen siren, Marilyn Monroe.

Valentine's Day gift

Buccellati

Emblematic of an eternal romance, the Macri collection and the Opera Gold collection are the Italian luxury house Buccellati’s top picks for the perfect Valentine’s Day gifts this year. The Opera Gold collection that is highly influenced by the art of Italian Renaissance, highlighting the beauty of love with its floral pattern combined with the brand’s logo. The Macri collection, meanwhile, boasts, with flowing lines that embody the unbreakable bond of true love.

Valentine's Day gift

 

 

 

Freywille

The bijouterie brand Freywille is known for creating artistic jewellery collections that take inspiration from some of the most renowned artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Alphonse Mucha, Claude Monet and more. For this most romantic day of the year, the Viennese brand has put together a specially curated selection of pieces that celebrate love in all its myriad forms –  the Pepita Rose collection with floral patterns, the Poésie d’Armour collection, the Paris Pop collection and the Wedding Collection Fine Jewellery.

Valentine's Day gift

 

Perfect Chinese New Year gifts for your loved ones

If you’re looking for more than the usual red packets to gift your nearest and dearest to celebrate the upcoming Year of the Rat, we at Gafencu have curated a special collection of Chinese New Year gifts that are sure to add a special touch to your lunar festivities. 

Blancpain’s Métiers d’Art Collection

Chinese New Year gifts

As the Rat supercedes its porcine predecessor this Chinese New Year, luxury brand Blancpain is launching its very first watch with a porcelain dial designed and manufactured in its Métiers d’Art workshops – The Métiers d’Art Porcelaine special edition. Each unique timepiece features an enamel painting of three rats on a white gold case that is encircled with diamonds. Besides, the eight-piece collection is powered by a Calibre 1154 automatic movement, blending beautiful form with undeniable functionality in true style.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label: Year of the Rat Limited Edition

Chinese New Year gifts

In celebration for this Chinese New Year, Johnnie Walker, the master of fine whiskies is launching its new Johnnie Walker Blue Label: Year of the Rat Limited Edition. The special cask is decorated with a rat on golden ingots, and comes with the rightly flavoured Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky ‒ crafted by a group of expert blenders including Jim Beveridge who was named the Master Blender of the Year twice. Without a doubt, this should rank high on your Chinese New Year gifts list.

 

Piaget Altiplano with two rats

Chinese New Year gifts

Honouring the zodiac animal of the upcoming Chinese New Year, the Swiss horology brand Piaget has altered the dial of its emblematic Piaget Altiplano to feature two white rats on a Grand Feu cloisonné enamel dial. The white gold case is further emphasised with dazzling diamonds to give it the perfect finishing touch. In addition, the luxury fashion maison is also launching the Possession collection for this festive season, offering a wide selection of Chinese New Year gifts for the watch lover in your life. 

Vins d’Alsace food and wine pairing guide

Chinese New Year gifts

Savouring authentic delicacies is an undeniable Chinese New Year tradition. The French wine-making region of Alsace is taking it up a notch by introducing a guide revealing which wine would be perfect for which dish. For instance, the Pinot Noir will go well with the traditional Hong Kong style dish of Poon Choi. It is indeed a very practical gift that will make this Chinese New Year dinner an unforgettable one for the taste buds. 

Brunello Cucinelli’s Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year Special

Chinese New Year gifts

Keeping up with the notion that the Lunar New Year is best celebrated with your loved ones, Italian fashion company Brunello Cucinelli is showcasing a specially curated collection. This ensemble is complete with useful gifts such as bags, scarves and sneakers for both men and women. With the colour red being its central motif, each product offers a vintage yet contemporary appeal. 

 

Golden Double Serum

Chinese New Year gifts

Inspired by the auspicious colours of the Chinese tradition ‒ red and gold – the French skincare manufacturer Clarins has revamped its Double Serum bottle for the Year of the Rat. With 21 strong anti-aging ingredients, the serum is an answer to a very radiant and youthful looking skin. Besides, the serum also optimises the five important skin functions ‒ regeneration, nutrition, hydration, oxygenation and protection to achieve flawless skin. At HK$900, the limited-edition serum is available online. 

 

Autavia CNY 2020 Year of the Rat Special Edition

Chinese New Year gifts

Luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer is introducing its exclusive collection Autavia CNY 2020 Year of the Rat Special Edition that pays tribute to Chinese culture. With a caseback that showcases a rat holding a steering wheel, the timepiece combines the brand’s roots in motor racing with the zodiac animal, making it a great gift for the rat year. Moreover, its red dial that has the 1 o’clock mark replaced by the Chinese character “鼠”  is one of the stand out features of this product. Besides, the watch’s COSC-certified chronometer technology makes it a great present without any further doubts. 

Rouge Unlimited

Chinese New Year gifts

Described as the perfect gift for anyone who loves make-up, the Japanese cosmetic and skincare brand Shu Uemura launched its New Year collection. This #flamingreds series consists of six shades of limited edition matte lipsticks, three shades of lip amplifiers, a cleansing oil, eyebrow pencils and a foundation brush. With the colour red being the main colour of this collection, the Rouge Unlimited collection is sure to bring luck as a gift for the rat year. 

Fabergé’s Rat Surprise

Chinese New Year gifts

With over a hundred-year history of crafting beautiful ornaments for every occasion, Russian jeweller Fabergé, known for its egg-shaped pendants, continues this legacy with its latest series of Palais Tsarskoye Selo Red Lockets. Among the collection, the locket with the rat surprise is a perfect gift for the rat year. A 18K gold pendant enhanced with red guilloché enamel work and studded with diamonds opens to reveal a golden rat studded with shimmering diamonds. At HK$81,510, the Rat surprise jewelry is available for pre-order at Fabergé.com and at select Fabergé stockists.

Vacheron Constantin Metiers d’Art The Legend of Chinese Zodiac – Year of the Rat

Chinese New Year gifts

In time for the upcoming Chinese New Year, another renowned Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin is unveiling two versions of its new Vacheron Constantin Metiers d’Art The Legend of Chinese Zodiac – Year of the Rat. With only 12 pieces available for each version, one is rose gold / brown and the other is platinum / blue. The watch comes fitted with a Caliber 2460 G4 movement and is visually enhanced with the intricate crafting on its dial featuring a rat mounted on the centre.