With the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix prize giving ceremony just around the corner, we are happy to present ten stunning timepieces that remain in the competition for the award in the 2012 Best Men’s Watch category. The pre-selected list includes the world’s greatest names of the haute horology, such as A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Greubel Forsey, IWC, Maîtres du Temps and others, whose exceptional creations with their impeccable designs, high-end technologies and innovative features mark the year 2012.
Maitres du Temps Chapter Three Reveal
At the beginning of the year, Maitres du Temps presented its third creation, called Chapter Three Reveal, which just like previous two masterpieces uses a mechanism with special rollers for indicating information. As the very best representative of the high-end individual watchmaking, this timepiece, along with its technological excellence, also offers a great design that combines perfectly executed elements with stylishness and luxury.
On the Chapter Three Reveal (I am just going to say Chapter Three), they are used for a day/night indicator and a second time zone indicator.
For the first time, a Maitres du Temps’ watch features a round case. It is crafted either in 18 karat rose gold or white gold, with the diameter of 42mm. The wonderfully polished case incorporates a crown with a special pusher that starts a great spectacle on a blue dial, by opening and closing doors on the bottom and top (This explains the Reveal part in the name of the watch.) Behind those doors, there are sliding rollers. The first one at the 6 o’clock position indicates time in the second time zone, while the engraved and hand painted roller at the 12 o’clock position serves as a day/night indicator. The dial also features small second and date sub-dials, as well as a moon-phase indicator. All these performances are provided by a Caliber SHC03 hand-winding movement whose 319 parts and haute horology finishes are visible through a sapphire crystal case-back. Fitted on an elegant hand-sewn crocodile strap, this piece of art is available for $88,500.
MB&F Legacy Machine No.1
It is interesting that the same man that is responsible for the Chapter Three watch (Kari Voutilainen that worked together with Andreas Strehler), was also engaged in creating MB&F Legacy Machine No.1 timepiece and both of these watches found the place on this prestigious list. Truly remarkable achievement, isn’t it. With its newest horological machine,
Maximilian Büsser wanted to pay tribute to the rich watchmaking heritage, by using classic elements and giving them a new contemporary touch.
Fascinated by the large, slow-frequency balance wheels (18,000 beats per hour), Büsser decided to reinterpret this traditional element for regulating accuracy, by repositioning it to float above a mechanism and sub-dials. Although the new arrangement looks pretty futuristic, the tradition was caught by the large, 14mm diameter of the balance wheel and a balance spring with a Breguet overcoil and a mobile stud holder. Developed by Jean-François Mojon and Kari Voutilainen, this three-dimensional, hand-winding movement also features the world’s first vertical power reserve indicator, driven by an ultra-flat differential with ceramic bearings.
The movement uses a single mainspring barrel (45 hours of power-reserve) and escapement to power two completely independent dials that indicate time in two time zones. Hours and minutes on both dials, which elegantly float above the top of the movement, can be set via their respective crowns. White lacquer dials come with blued steel hands and Roman numerals which give the watch a nice, classic look. Either made of 18 karat white or red gold, a case of MB&F’s Legacy Machine No.1 watch has the diameter of 44mm and it is 16mm tall. It is available either with black or brown hand-stitched alligator strap, with a gold tang buckle to match the case. The price of this remarkable creation is CHF85,000.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun
Impressive high-tech materials, amazing functionality followed by a superb precision and impeccable sporty design, make IWC’s Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN watch be one of the greatest pilot models ever produced. Powered by an IWC-manufactured 51614 Calibre mechanism, it provides Pellaton winding system, one of the most efficient self-winding movement systems in the history. Along with a spring-mounted rotor, it ensures 7 days of power reserve. This great mechanism comes with a number of great complications, including the perpetual calendar that does not need to be adjusted until 2100, as well as a highly accurate moon-phase indicator that displays the state of the moon as seen from northern and southern hemispheres.
The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN bears the design code from the past, featuring large, contrasting interface with a matt-black dial and luminous white indices. Its ultra-hard, ceramic case has the diameter of 48mm and it features an over-sized titanium crown. This high-quality timepiece that fulfills all the requirements of professional pilots costs $38,600.
A. Lange & Söhne Datograph UP/DOWN
A. Lange & Söhne came this year with the most advanced reincarnation of its famous Datograph that was first time presented back in 1999. By bringing a number of subtle, but important changes in terms of design and technology, the Auf/Ab model (Up/Down on English) deserved the place among the best men’s watches in 2012.
The most significant change comes with an improved Caliber L951.6 hand-winding movement which now, thanks to a larger mainspring barrel, can beat up to 60 hours when it is fully wound, comparing to the old 36 hours of power-reserve. The new version also features a shock-resistant balance wheel, as well as a fly-back chronograph.
A platinum case of the Datograph UP/DOWN watch is a bit larger, with the diameter of 41mm instead of 39mm. Despite the larger size, harmonious proportions of the original are preserved. The tachymeter scale, the small second sub-dial and the 30-minutes chronograph are still there on the black dial, but there is an Up/Down power reserve indication in the bottom of the dial as the new element. Furthermore, slim baton-shaped hour markers that replaced Roman numerals allow better readability. This elegant sporty chronograph is available for $87,400.
Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain
Greubel Forsey watch came with a stunning version of the existing Tourbillon 24 Secondes watch, featuring a beautiful royal blue dial with a small seconds sub-dial, a power-reserve indicator and a tourbillon cage which rotates once each 24 seconds! Although pretty simple by the brand’s standards, its carefully finished and manually polished mechanical parts, surfaces and bridges are still masterpieces of the haute horology. Built of 267 parts, the Calibre GF01c hand-winding movement oscillates at the frequency of 21600 variations per hour and provides the power-reserve of 72 hours.
The deep dial incorporates a sapphire crystal ring that floats around the outer dial, indicating hours and minutes. Besides, sapphire crystal is also used for a tourbillon bridge. A 43.5mm case is crafted in perfectly polished platinum and it is attached to an elegant black leather strap. Limited to just 33 pieces, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain is far the most expensive watch on this list, with the breathtaking price of CHF430,000.
Audemars Piguet Extra-Thin Royal Oak
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the iconic Royal Oak Collection, Audemars Piguet launched the entire series of new models. Among them, this extra-thin model deserves a special attention. Not just that it follows the distinctive design code of the collection, but also houses the same super-slim mechanism of the original. It is a Calibre 2121 self-winding movement with the incredible thickness of 3.05mm. It comprises 247 components, including a monobloc oscillating weight which is entirely made of 22 karat gold and embossed with the inscription “AP Audemars Piguet”.
The new model brings a number of signature features from the past, such as the iconic “Petite Tapisserie” pattern in distinctive blue color, with the white gold AP initials, located at the 6 o’clock position. Besides, a 39mm case, a bezel, a crown, a bracelet and a folding clasp are all crafted in stainless steel, just like the first Royal Oak from 1972. Furthermore, there are a characteristic octagonal bezel with eight hexagonal screws in white gold and an integrated bracelet. This new Extra-Thin Royal Oak watch costs $22,500. It is also available in pink gold.
Panerai Radiomir 8 days GMT Oro Rosso 45 mm
A Radiomir 8 Days GMT Oro Rosso represents another successful return to the past. More sophisticated than ever before, the new Panerai’s timepiece features the vintage aesthetic of the Radiomir, but with a beautifully polished, 5NPt pink gold case in the robust size, it brings the nice refreshment to the brand’s iconic line. This watch is even more impressive from inside. The cushion, 45mm case houses an advanced version of the P.2002 movement, completely designed and made by Officine Panerai. Visible through a sapphire crystal case-back, this hand-winding mechanism incorporates nicely skeletonised bridges and barrels which reveal the wheelwork and the circular graining of the plates, as well as beautiful hand finishes and gold engravings. Thanks to three spring barrels in series, the P.2002 Calibre provides the superb power-reserve of 8 days.
A dark brown dial with satin-finished sunray treatment looks stunning. Constructed in the Panerai’s signature sandwich style, it features a subsidiary dial for the second time zone, a date window and a power-reserve indicator. Like all Panerai watches, the Radiomir 8 Days GMT Oro Rosso is highly legible, thanks to extremely luminous material that covers hour markers and hands. Matching the color of the dial, an alligator strap with an adjustable red gold buckle completes a sophisticated look of the watch. The price of this model from the Special Edition is CHF32,600.
Urban Jürgensen CHRONOMETER P8 with Swiss Lever Escapement
The front side of a new Urban Jürgensen’s chronometer shows one of the most elegant dials in 2012, while a transparent case-back reveals a new in-house masterpiece. It is the highly innovative Caliber UJS P8 hand-winding chronometer with a Swiss lever escapement and twin barrels that ensure the great reservoir of power up to 88 hours.
Finely polished pink gold case, with the diameter of 42mm directs us to the most impressive segment of the watch – its stylish silver dial. The railway-style minute track and Roman numerals that indicate hours frame the beautiful central part of the dial. It is composed of two hand-made patterns, one of the central circle and the other one of the small-seconds sub-dial at the 6 o’clock position. The remarkable classic elegance is completed by tiny blue hands. Urban Jürgensen CHRONOMETER P8 with Swiss Lever Escapement watch is available with a black leather strap and costs $20,570.
Zenith Montre d’Aéronef Type 20
Thanks to its exceptional reliability, strength and accuracy, Zenith’s Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 was standard equipment on the instrument panels of most French airplanes. Today, this striking model is also available as a wrist watch, in the extremely robust size that is necessary in order to house the brand’s iconic 5011 Calibre hand-winding mechanism (more precisely its variation 5011K). During the 1960s, this movement received numerous awards for its precision, including the most prestigious one from the Neuchatel Observatory which proclaimed the Zenith’s mechanism for the most accurate chronometer it ever tested. It oscillates at the frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour and provides two days of power-reserve, featuring a bimetallic balance wheel coupled with a self-compensating, anti-magnetic hairspring, shock absorbers, as well as a Swiss lever escapement.
The 57.5mm case of the Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 is crafted in titanium grade 5 with polished and satin-brushed finishes. The dial is extremely readable thanks to the dark surface and heavily-coated luminous numerals and large hands. The small-seconds sub-dial is located at the 9 o’clock position, while the power-reserve indicator takes the 3 o’clock position. This great timepiece from the Pilot Collection costs $12,800.
Laurent Ferier Galet Micro-Rotor Limited Edition in Platinum
Laurent Ferier released a new limited edition of a Galet Micro-Rotor, this time with a 41mm platinum case and a stunning enamel grand feu dial. The great expertise of the Swiss watchmaker is demonstrated by an impressive clearness of the elegant dial that perfectly follows the high-end quality of the inner-work.
A highly advanced FBN Calibre 229.01 mechanism features a micro-rotor pawl-fitted automatic winding system. Fixed between the main plate and the micro-rotor bridge, this valued feature allows the extra-thickness of the mechanism, without decreasing its efficiency. Executed in the finest watchmaking traditions and beautifully finished by hand, this in-house mechanism also features a silicon escapement with a double direct impulse on the balance and a silent block shock protection system for the microrotor. This COSC certified chronometer beats at the frequency of 21,600 variations per hours and provides the superb power-reserve of 80 hours. Just 18 pieces of the new Laurent Ferier Galet Micro-Rotor watch were produced and they are available for $72,000 each.