For the third year in a row, the largest watch event on the globe, the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair, included a special section of the exhibition that displayed the latest horological treasures. This part of the event is named World Brand Piazza, and just like the year before, it showcases the products of 12 high-end watchmakers. However, the list of exhibitors has been changed when compared to the last edition of the fair. This year, Hong Kong was the place to see the latest models from A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Breguet, Chopard, Franc Muller, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubois and Ulysse Nardin. The selection displayed extraordinary complex timekeepers which are becoming more and more complex and contributing to the overall trend in watchmaking that even a feature like a tourbillon is not enough nowadays.
A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Up/Down Watch
The renowned German brand from Glashütte A. Lange & Söhne is displaying this year’s newcomer, Datograph Up/Down timepiece that was unveiled at the start of the year in Geneva. This timekeeper is the latest model with the Datograph designation which denotes the presence of column-wheel chronographs with fly-back mechanisms and power reserve indications which are packed in a harmonious design. Its latest incarnation is made in a larger platinum case with the width of 41 mm and has an extended power storage that lasts for 60 hours. This is possible due to the inclusion of the in-house Calibre L951.6 manually-wound mechanical movement, the latest of 43 proprietary calibers that the German watchmaker has launched, since the reinstatement of the brand in 1990.
Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Grande Complication Watch
A real treat for the dedicated watch enthusiasts was the displayed Grande Complication timekeeper from the Jules Audemars collection by Audemars Piguet. The high-end watchmaker from the Swiss town of Le Brassus flaunted its extraordinary watch that brings together the highest of aesthetic standards with the same kind of horological values. It is equipped with a self-winding in-house Calibre 2885 movement. Since it is a Grande Complication product, the opulence of additional features was quite expected. That is why this timepiece includes a minute repeater, a perpetual calendar (with date, day and month), a moon phase indication and a column-wheel chronograph with a split-second feature. For all of these functions, it is necessary to have an extremely complex movement just like this watch has, consisting of nearly 650 components and with 52 integrated jewels. The supported power reserve is three hours shy of two days. As it has been mentioned, the appearance of the product also exudes high class. Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Grande Complication watch is placed in a 42 mm wide case which can be constructed from 18K pink or yellow gold or titanium. There are versions with a white dial, but even the neater ones are made with skeleton dials. This type of face in combination with a transparent case back, featured in all of the versions, offers a complete view on the functioning of the exquisite automatic caliber.
Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar Watch
The third company that was included in the World Brand Piazza display is another exclusive Swiss manufacturer with a great tradition, Blancpain, which is known for its propensity to create highly complex slim watches. At Hong Kong, Blancpain showed off the amazing product with more than appropriate complications, especially considering the venue of the event. It is a Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar timepiece, the first ever mechanical watch with this sort of feature. The highly interesting product from the Villeret collection has traditional hour and minute indications and a nice curved central hand that shows the date in Gregorian calendar. However, the rest of the indications are dedicated to the indicators of the traditional Chinese calendar.
On the top of the dial, we see double hour numbers and symbols (corresponding to 24-hour cycle), and the aperture that shows the current zodiac sign. The right section of the dial is reserved for displays of the elements and the celestial stems (corresponding to ten year cycle), while the left one shows the month, date and leap month indications of the Chinese calendar. The final touch is the moon phase display at the bottom of the face. The reason to include such unusual displays derives from the fact that it is a lunisolar calendar, or in other words, a solar calendar which has a lunar cycle (that lasts for about 29 and a half days) as its base unit. For the most people who are not generally familiar with this way of keeping time, this can be pretty baffling. However, in a nut shell this means that a new month always starts with a new moon and lasts 29 or 30 days. Since this is clearly less than total days in a year, it is sometimes necessary to add the 13th month, hence the variable date of the Chinese New Year. Certainly peculiar and yet unseen complication does make this product interesting to a limited market. However, since it is the limited market of the country with the highest population in the world, it might not be such a bad decision, to say the least.
Breguet Hora Mundi Watch
Another exceptional product, although not that new, since it was unveiled at Baselworld 2011 fair, is a special travelers watch by the brand that was founded by one of the most significant and innovative watchmakers in the entire history of horology, Abraham-Louis Breguet. The watch that was displayed was Breguet Hora Mundi timepiece, the first watch with a mechanical caliber that enables its wearer to instantly switch between two previously selected time zones, without any disturbance to its timekeeping function. This lovely watch fitted in a round casing (made of gold or titanium) also includes a moon phase indication and depicts a part of the globe on its lovely blue dial.
Chopard L.U.C Lunar One Watch
The fifth exhibitor at the event in Hong Kong was Chopard, a prestigious brand whose workshops unify the amazing sills of artisans from 45 different crafts. The brand with headquarters in Geneva displayed L.U.C Lunar One timepiece that was first shown at this year’s edition of the Baselworld fair. It is a beautiful looking timekeeper with an exceptionally refined dial that sports an eye-catching and very precise moon phase indication. Additionally, the watch includes a small seconds counter and a perpetual calendar with a double window date display. Once again, behind the amazing aesthetics stands the technical expertise. Chopard L.U.C Lunar One timepiece has an automatic mechanical L.U.C 96.13-L movement that bears the Geneva Seal of quality. The beautifully decorated self-winding caliber is equipped with the impressive power storage that lasts for 70 hours.
Franck Muller Giga Tourbillon Watch
The next in line of exhibitors that were presented in World Brand Piazza in Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2012 is the product by Franck Muller. Just like for the last edition of the largest fair in the world of watches, the Swiss watchmaker opted to display the same type of watch, with the only difference that this time the timekeeper sports a dial completely covered by diamonds. It is not that surprising that Franck Muller once again exhibited its Giga Tourbillon, since it has remarkable and unmatched features. For start, it sports the largest tourbillon in the world of watchmaking which, due to its size, requires much more power than it is usually the case. This was resolved with the inclusion of four barrels which enable this remarkable watch to have the amazing power reserve of 9 days.
IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Retrograde Watch
A nice new piece also came from the only luxury watch brand from the Swiss town of Schaffhausen. Naturally, the brand in question is IWC, and the watch it presented was the amazing Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Retrograde timepiece. This watch shows off a complex flying tourbillon which is comprised of 82 components, and is set against a dark background, thus creating a visual effect that tourbillon is floating in the air. The watch runs thanks to its mechanical Pellaton automatic winding caliber 51900. The in-house made movement incorporates 44 jewels and offers the extended power storage which lasts for seven days. On the dial of the watch, its wearer can see the remaining power reserve on a retrograde display, which is also used for its date color. IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Retrograde timepiece has the width of 44.2 mm and is made with a transparent case back. There are two versions of the watch, one made with a platinum case and a ruthenium black dial, while the other one is fitted in an 18K red gold housing which is combined with a light silver plated face.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon I Watch
The eighth exhibitor at the World Brand Piazza was another supreme Swiss watchmaker with an impressive tradition and history, which can be illustrated with the facts that it was the first brand founded in the Valée de Joux and that it has more than 1,200 manufactured calibers and nearly 400 registered horological innovations. In Hong Kong, JLC displayed its Gyrotourbillon I timepiece for the second year in a row. As in previous cases, there are more than enough reasons to display this amazing timekeeper once again. It is a product of the current trends where having only tourbillon complication is not enough, despite the complexity of the feat. That is why this iconic timepiece has a two-cage multi-axis tourbillon that copes much better with the effects of the gravity on the movement, and also includes a power reserve display, and a perpetual calendar function shown on its face in the original manner. Naturally this all required an extremely intricate movement that incorporates nearly 700 components. As a cherry on the top of a cake comes the information that the included hand-wound proprietary Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 177 secures a power reserve that lasts for eight days.
Panerai Radiomir 8 Days Oro Rosso Watch
Exactly the same power storage is featured in the watch that was presented by the Italian high-end brand, Panerai. The special edition of a watch by Panerai named Radiomir 8 Days Oro Rosso GMT was introduced at the start of the year in Geneva. It is set in an aesthetically impeccable 45 mm wide case of vintage design and distinct shape made from red gold, as the very name of the timekeeper reveals. The material of the case is also utilized for hands and indicators on its brown captivating dial. As it was the case for the model by JLC, its large power reserve is caused by the inclusion of a hand-wound mechanical caliber with the designation Panerai P.2002/10. The 21 jewel movement includes lovely decorations and can be seen through the large skeleton portion of its case back.
Piaget Dancer Exceptional Piece Watch
Moving a bit in a different direction that maximizes the use of lavish decorative elements, we come to Piaget Dancer Exceptional Piece that combines white gold and diamonds in order to create a head spinning end result. The watch has its case, dial, crown and bracelet completely paved with brilliant-cut (in total 569 and weighing 6.9 carat) and baguette-cut diamonds (565 gemstones with the weight of 26.2 ct). However, the watch by Piaget is not just looks without the substance. On the contrary, it also exemplifies the expertise of the manufacturer that is known for its creation of the thinnest available movements which again enables the Swiss watchmaker and jeweler to make graceful and ultra-thin mechanical watches. This particular piece is equipped with the brand’s manufacture 830P ultra-thin manually-wound caliber that is only 2.5 mm thick. As the result, the thickness of the case is only 7.7 mm. The caliber of the watch is also meticulously finished, while its technical excellence can be demonstrated with the fact that it has a solid three day power reserve, despite its minute dimensions.
Roger Dubois Excalibur Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon Watch
The next watch by the brand that earned quite a reputation in less than two decades in the industry, once again shows the trend that having a tourbillon these days is simply not enough. For this reason, Roger Dubois displayed its steam-punk looking Excalibur Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon timekeeper. This watch, along with the brand’s other novelties, was also unveiled at the first major horological event of the year, SIHH, in the version of titanium. The only watch with a double flying tourbillon with differential is now available in cases made of white or red gold. Its amazing hand-wound RD01SQ mechanical movement with two tourbillon carriages (one-minute rotation for both of them) can be clearly seen through its skeletonized dial. The caliber of the watch consists of 319 parts and stores a power reserve that lasts for two days.
Ulysse Nardin Royal Blue Tourbillon – Haute Joaillerie Watch
The last of the brands that were involved in the most exclusive part of the largest timepiece event in the world was Ulysse Nardin. Its fantastic Royal Blue Tourbillon – Haute Joaillerie timekeeper is yet another product that combines high-end watchmaking and the luxury of precious stones. The watch is to say the least abundant with precisely cut diamonds and sapphires. Just its 43 mm wide platinum 950 case is adorned with 80 baguette diamonds and 45 blue sapphires of different baguette cut. More precious stones of the same kind are found on the inner bezel, and even its crown includes eight baguette stones and a single cabochon blue sapphire. Even this is not all; since there is a multitude of gemstones on the wristlet (the watch comes with either alligator leather strap with luxury decorations, or with a platinum bracelet paved with diamonds and sapphires). The exclusive ornaments are integrated with the technical features, and Royal Blue Tourbillon – Haute Joaillerie timekeeper has a manually-wound mechanical caliberUN-79 with bridges and main plates made from sapphire, which creates the effect that the tourbillon cage is floating. The movement with 36 jewels and a power reserve that lasts for about 100 hours include a circular rack mechanism for winding which additionally contributes to the mysterious look of this highly exclusive timekeeper by Ulysse Nardin.