Seven unusual and extraordinary luxury watches
These timepieces push the boundaries of design and workmanship
Watches can come in all shapes, sizes and designs - and in the luxury sector, brands really take their skills to another level.
In this collection, we pick out seven watches that push the boundaries of horological design and workmanship with hi-tech mechanics, irreverent design and mind-boggling mechanisms.
Reservoir x Atelier Marceau
Tiefenmesser Bronze Plume
Reservoir is a radical watchmaker with a cool USP: dials are inspired by racing, marine and aircraft counters with a retrograde minute and jumping hour hand. This model has a braided strap that looks a little like marquetry. It is in fact the work of Maxime Leroy, a master plumassier or feather artisan, from France’s Atelier Marceau. Remarkably, the strap is a fusion of woven rooster feathers on leather – seen here on the Reservoir Tiefenmesser which riffs off a submarine counter.
Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph
This watch from VC’s Grandes Complications workshop demonstrates its superlative talent for elegant complex technical mechanisms. Combining a monopusher chronograph with a tourbillon, the calibre of this pink-gold timepiece counts 292 components. The spectacular hand-finishing includes circular graining, chamfering and Côtes de Genève decoration. And there’s no chance of accidentally setting off the chronograph: a dynamic activation system responds only when adequate pressure is exerted on the pusher.
Hewn from zalium – a hi-tech zirconium- based alloy that is extremely lightweight, corrosion-resistant and said to be harder than titanium – Project Z watches set a new standard in watchmaking when the first models were released in 2004. The model’s three-dimensional dial looks like it might have been inspired by a jet engine. This latest iteration pushes the boundaries of futurism thanks to a retrograde seconds hand and a highly texturised chamfered bezel which adds even more depth to the dial. Limited to 300 pieces.
Executive Dual Time in rose gold
The big news is that this watch has had a complete design overhaul, inspired by the daring aesthetics of the marque’s Skeleton X model; however, the dual time zone function, first patented in 1994, remains the same, which stands to reason as it’s one of the smoothest ever conceived. The hourhand adjusts forward or backward with the simple touch of the plus and minus pushers located opposite the crown, while the window at nine o’clock displays a 24-hour second time zone. No fuss, but ever so clever.
Bell & Ross
BR 05 Chronograph
Bell & Ross released its BR 05 collection in 2019 – a series of dressy sports watches with integrated bracelets. The style still adheres to the brand’s aviation-inspired design codes, but with added panache. The latest addition, the BR 05 chronograph available in navy blue or jet black, has a touch of 1970s flair thanks to two slightly curved subdials. There’s also black rubber strap for those who want to crank up the sporty feel.
A. Lange & Söhne
1815 Rattrapante Honeygold ‘Homage to F.A. Lange’
One of three special pieces celebrating 175 years since Adolph Lange opened his first workshop, this piece brings into focus the rattrapante chronograph. The mechanics that power this function give rise to some mesmerising multitasking: the rattrapante sweep-seconds hand can be stopped independent of the chronograph sweep-seconds hand and resynchronised with it. This allows you to measure different intervals within the course of a minute. FYI, honeygold is the marque’s propriety gold alloy, and is apparently harder than platinum.
For 20 years, Richard Mille has been an unstoppable force in watchmaking. His latest invention, the RM 72-01 (available in black/white ceramic, titanium, or 5N red gold) is yet another example of his fearless approach to this micro craft. This is the marque’s first in-house chronograph and a world first: it incorporates a patented double-oscillating pinion mechanism that allows the energy to be fed directly from the seconds wheel to the chronograph function, meaning the base movement is unaffected when the chronograph is engaged.