The most important watch award ceremony, Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneva, is getting really close. Among the major awards, one category that stands out is the newly established Mechanical Exception which concentrates on innovative complications and types of display. For this year edition of the competition, the shortlisted watches are the most accurate moon phase watch Andreas Strehler Sauturelle A Lune Perpetuelle, a tourbillion with 50 days of power reserve Hublot MP-05 Laferrari, a minute repeater with automaton Jaquet Droz Bird Repater, MB&F Legacy Machine 2 with a twin floating balance, a belt-driven TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon and Urwerk EMC which allows its wearers to adjust the rate of the movement. Next, we will briefly present all of the pre-selected timekeepers which all feature a six-figured price.
Andreas Strehler Sauturelle A Lune Perpetuelle
The first contestant on the list is Andreas Strehler Sauturelle A Lune Perpetuelle which is a very special piece since it features the most accurate moon phase indication in the world of horology that has ever been seen. The precision of the moon phase is almost perfect. It requires just a single ten-minute adjustment every 14,000 years, or to put it in even more impressive terms, it has to be moved one day every two million years which all sounds almost impossible. To create such an extreme accuracy, the entire feature was made in a truly unconventional way by Andreas Strehler in his atelier in Simach. Unlike common moon phase indications that change only once per day, this one runs and moves constantly. It is connected to the gear train in an original way which includes clever mixture of inner and outer toothing, as well as the use of prime numbers for the teeth. The latter is one of the most important ways how this mechanical marvel can make such complex computing that allow it to be called the most accurate mechanical moon phase watch ever.
Otherwise, it should be said that the record indication for the stages of the moon is mounted on a manually-wound mechanical movement which is also characterized with the addition of the secondary power source, remontoire d’egalite, the feature that provides constant force for the escapement. Except the phases of the moon, only supported features are hours, minutes and seconds, as can be seen on the watches silver face which likewise has an opening that reveals the used remontoire. Once fully wound, the watch can run for 78 hours. It is presented in a modestly sized oval red gold housing. The watch by Andreas Strehler is made in a limited edition of 20 pieces and has the price of just over $100,000.
A different type of record comes from the second pre-selected timekeeper in the category – Hublot-05 Laferrari. This incredible accomplishment, the most complex watch by Hublot so far includes a tourbillion and more importantly, amazing power reserve of 50 days. Naturally, this is an unparalleled result in the word of horology. The immense complexity of 637 parts in total which comprise the hand-wound movement includes as much as 11 barrels placed in line, in sort of a spiral column shape. This is exactly the solution behind its massive power storage.
As it is indicated by the name of the timepiece, it basis its looks on automotive industry, or more precisely on an engine of a sports car. The Hublot piece looks quite original with barrels featured at the center and unconventional digital display for the indications. Additionally, it has an oversized tourbillion cage. Hublot MP-05 Laferrari is placed in a quite large titanium housing made in an irregular shape. It is launched in a limited edition of 50 pieces which can be bought for the pretty steep price of around $315,000.
Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater
The following watch, Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater, shows off a mechanical complexity of the highest level which is supplemented with strong artistic aspect. The timekeeper has an impressive striking mechanism, as it is often the case with the products of the watchmaker. However, this is not the most impressive trait of the piece since it has a really impressive automaton feature. In a normal mode, one can notice that the dial of the watch represents a couple of birds and their offspring in the nest. The specific type of the birds that are shown on a three-dimensional dial is actually homage to the Jura region where the manufacturer is located. Once the wearer of the watch activates the minute repeater, these birds likewise come to life. Thanks to the utterly intricate mechanism which includes eight separate moving segments, one can see the birds and their background moving in unison.
The watch by Jaquet Droz was actually first presented in 2013. Like the dial with lovely reliefs that shows the skilful work of various decorative techniques, its housing is made of red gold and has a fairly thin profile of 18.1 mm, considering the supported features of the watch. The Bird Repeater is made in just eight copies and it is the most expensive model in the competition with the price of nearly $680,000.
MB&F Legacy Machine 2
Another contestant in the Mechanical Exception category that was first presented last year is MB&F Legacy Machine 2. As it is common for the timepieces from the Legacy Machine series by MB&F, it celebrates some of the most important horological breakthroughs of the past and the most iconic figures in the field, even though this is probably not immediately visible because of its futuristic appearance. It includes two suspended balances, visible on the front side of the watch. Both flying balances are connected to a single gear train with the means of a differential. The use of a single gear-train is even rarer than the presence of two separate balances which have been around since the 18th century. The mentioned differential which transfers power to each of the balances and transmits their average rate to the mechanism’s gear train is actually the most demanding segment of the complex construction.
The visible presence of two mirror-like balances on the dial of the watch is caused by the fact that the face is actually a highly elaborately finished upper plate of the hand-wound movement. In the creation of this piece, MB&F collaborated with two very important figures in the field, as it is also customary for the watches from the series. For the technical aspect of the watch, the manufacturer turned to Jean-Francois Mojon and his team Chronode. On the other hand, the artistic aspect of the watch was entrusted to Kari Voutilainen. Unlike the pre-selected watches so far, this one is not launched solely in a restricted series, at least its red gold and white gold editions. However, there is also a limited edition in platinum. The watch with two suspended balances has the price of around $190,000.
TAG Heuer Monaco V5 Tourbillon
Next in line is the watch that was one of the biggest sensation of this year’s edition of Baselworld show. It is TAG Heuer Monaco V5 timekeeper which represents the brand’s new take on mechanical pieces. This remarkable and innovative piece features a tourbillion feature. However, this is far from its most significant trait which can be also demonstrated with the fact that it is far too radical to just be pre-selected in the Best Tourbillon category. The amazing thing about this piece that it actually basis its functioning on patented belts, ball bearings and linear mass.
Otherwise, the first ever belt-driven tourbillion is distinguished by its barrel-shaped black titanium housing of medium size, a self-winding movement and a power reserve of 40 hour. The revolutionary timekeeper from the Monaco line of TAG Heuer watches whose development lasted over a decade has the price tag of about $157,000.
The final of the pre-selected watches in the Mechanical Exception category at the GPHG 2014 is Urwerk EMC. As all of the other watches, this one likewise showcases a very interesting innovation. This is the first ever mechanical watch that can be actually fine-tuned by its wearer and not a professional, as it was the case until now. For this purpose, the watch is equipped with an electronic device that measures its accuracy. After the reading of the result, the wearer can adjust the rate of the mechanical movement by simple turning of a screw which is placed at the rear side of the timekeeper.
The Urwerk piece that greatly facilitates the fine-tuning of the watch’s beating heart in a steel or a titanium housing with the unconventional shape that is quite common for the brand headed by Frei and Baumgartner. It has a regulator type of display for its indication with four separate sub-dials which are used to show for hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve. The watch can be bought for around $123,000.