Time of the Year: A second look at the best of 2016 and a minute peek at 2017

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For some watch brands, 2016 was a wait-and-see year, with a number of companies happy to let the changing tides of economics, technology and consumer preferences subside before they committed to fresh innovation and major departures. Not every marque, however, was quite so willing to tread water.

Among those seemingly more confident about their own future direction was A. Lange & Söhne. Early last year, the company released the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds. At less than 40mm in diameter, its fascia is, perhaps, a little on the small side, while its use of three dials could be deemed a tad fussy. In terms of quality and style, however, the Jumping Seconds is undoubtedly finely-wrought, while also coming with a highly-reasonable US$85,000 (HK$659,300) price tag.

Often overlooked by the more casual collectors, F.P. Journe remains a somewhat undervalued Franco-Swiss timepiece manufacturer. Clearly looking to remedy that, last year the company introduced the Centigraphe Souverain Anniversaire, an apt celebration of the tenth anniversary of the opening of both its Hong Kong and Tokyo boutiques.

Perhaps the brand’s most significant piece to date, it boasts a well-proportioned 40mm titanium case, complete with burgundy alligator strap and a finely-wrought gold clasp. The dial is laid out in a triumvirate of sub-dials, forming two eyes and a mouth, which – in combination with its smoothly angled hands – delivers a surprisingly emotive face. Prices start at US$64,000, with a percentage of profits being donated to the Brain and Spinal Cord Institute in Paris.

CTT_face_eff_PATH “Millennials will certainly want their classic watches leavened with a little 21st century tech”

Moving on, a striking new entrant in the global explorer category comes courtesy of De Bethune, with the company’s DB25 World Traveller rightly hailed as a watch for the jet-setter with true class. Its 45mm white gold case is a beautiful mix of golds and whites, deftly managing to be neither overly flashy nor wholly understated. Its blue hands, meanwhile, provide easy time-keeping, while it even features a series of minute shock-absorbers, all ensuring its 430 moving parts can endure the sharpest of knocks.

Of course, no travel watch would be of any value if it lacked the facility to display multiple time zones. The DB25 World Traveller ably performs this task via a series of time zone coded destinations asymmetrically laid out across the central portion of the dial. A rather large, avant-garde piece, the DB25 is perhaps not for everyone. Nonetheless, for a bold, well-proportioned traveller’s watch – and a relative bargain at US$150,000 – it’s a worthy investment.

Moving away – albeit temporarily – from the industry’s Swiss heartlands, the Portsmouth has been deemed a bold departure by Garrick, one of London’s most iconic watchmakers. Indeed, this notably bulky offering (42mm) has more than a hint of old school Royal Naval charm.

With a case of highly-polished stainless steel and a more than generously sized crown, a sub-dial for running seconds takes up the 10 o’clock position, while a balance wheel and bridge at 6 o’clock provides the dressiness you’d expect from such a quintessentially British model. Two other aspects of the piece merit particular attention – its blued and bevelled hands, which provide an appropriately nautical crossed anchor motif as they turn, and its engraved and lacquered dial, customisable to individual customer specifications. All in all, not bad for just £18,000 (HK$176,000).

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Moving back into the more familiar waters of Swiss haute horology takes us to the Golden Bridge Round, the latest offering from Corum, the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based, Hong Kong-owned maker of fine timepieces. The company’s Golden Bridge range has divided watch aficionados, with some finding this rectangular-shaped timepiece not at all to their liking. In a bid to woo the cynics, the Golden Bridge Round – an 18-carat rose gold timepiece, measuring a wrist-busting 43mm – features some truly remarkable engineering.

With a single strut, running from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock, bearing the gears and mechanics, both sides of the watch boast playfully-angled bridge motifs. The rose gold model comes in at an eminently reasonable US$42,000, while the bolder, brasher, perhaps somewhat more overly indulgent white gold model, complete with diamonds, is priced just a little higher at US$48,000.

While a quick look back is traditional at this time of year, it would be wrong to kick off 2017 without at least a glance at what the next 12 months have in store. As ever, a reliable first port of call is Vacheron Constantin. In line with the company’s long tradition of launching timely zodiac-specific watches into the Asian market, the marque’s Métiers d’Art Legend Of The Chinese Zodiac Year Of The Rooster timepiece should shortly be available.

With a somewhat stern-looking cockerel taking pride of place on the dial, the extremities of the face are subtly accented with a flower motif, with an enamel base used to form the primary colour-scheme. Instead of hands, the watch uses a succession of apertures – four in all – to provide hour (10 o’clock), minutes (2 o’clock), date (5 o’clock) and day (7 o’clock) indicators. Each is ably positioned to maximise ease of reading, although the lack of a seconds counter to provide direct timing is, perhaps, something of an omission. If you’re hoping to secure one of these – in either its platinum or pink gold incarnation – you really need to be fast off the mark. Only 24 of both versions are going to be produced, with each numbered iteration selling for around US$100,000.


In the year ahead, it is likely that many Millennials will want their classic, precision watches leavened with a little 21st century tech, but certain horological archetypes bow neither to fashion nor fad. With a centuries-long heritage of incorporating all the very best of the new, while maintaining the time-honoured trappings of the finest achievements of watchmakers throughout the years, haute horology is as relevant today as it ever was. Indeed, with a series of intriguing new models waiting in the wings, 2017 could prove something of a high water mark.

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