On this site you will find a lot of very, very expensive wristwatches. These are hand-made works of art and can only be owned by the very rich who commission them. Although inexpensive Polanti has been included here, not merely for their design and artistry, but because they have an unusual business model that have made them iconic. Read the rest of this entry »
Approximate Cost: 20 278.00 GBP
The company has set up a watch-maker’s college in Read the rest of this entry »
I have attempted to draw attention to the wonders of hand crafted wristwatches, the most exclusive, valuable and prestigious being those made by the likes of Roger Dubuis, Patek Philippe, Parmigiani, Girard-Perregaux, Chopard, Blancpain, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Vacheron Constantin, and IWC, all of which draw on a long tradition of precision engineering, ingenuity and intricacy.
In 1999, Richard Mille seemed to herald a new chapter to this horological history, using new techniques and materials to threaten the established “big boys”.
- But these “big boys” were already under threat — from FP Journe!
François-Paul Journe is the man behind the “Chronometre à Resonance” and the “Tourbillon a Remontoir d’Egalité” (launched in 2000), and is one of the most talented and exciting watch maker of his generation. A true maverick.
His Geneva factory is Read the rest of this entry »
Pierre Jaquet Droz (1721-1790) was actually famed for making clockwork robots or androids, and many claim that these mechanisms are in fact the world’s first computers! They are on permanent display in a museum. Jaquet Droz wrist watches have a fresh, clean modern design while retaining credibility and a long tradition of Swiss clock work manufacture. Part of the extended business of Swatch, Jaquet Droz seems to be competing with the likes of newcomers Hautlence by aiming at the lower end of a market that has for so long been dominated by Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Breitling, Tag Heuer, Gucci, etc
In 1999, Richard Mille began creating a range of exclusive and expensive wristwatches that marked a total departure from the long traditions of watch making.
Approximate Cost: 374 000.00 GBP
Mille started afresh, and used computers — CAD — and explored new hi-tech materials, metallic and non-metallic alloys, ceramics, carbon nanofibre, silicium, and so forth, all to create a watch that would withstand being dropped on a hard floor, was water resistant, could withstand extremes of heat and cold, and went days without rewinding.
In my previous post/ article, I raised the subject of Wristwatches in order to begin some appreciation for such an everyday and commonplace object. Although most wristwatches are now cheap and electronically powered or operated, there exists a long tradition of clockwork wristwatches that have to be wound up in some way — some merely by the motion of being worn.
Hand made wristwatches such as a Roger Dubuis, Patek Philippe, Parmigiani, Girard-Perregaux, Chopard, Blancpain, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Vacheron Constantin, or IWC are incredibly expensive and rare, and have the longest traditions and best credentials.
There is a long waiting list for such timepieces, so — even though these items are valuable and exclusive — Mille has shown that there is still room in the market for the new.
Hommage, H43 2610 0 N94.1 by Roger Dubois (Swiss, Founded 1995)
Approximate Cost: 164 997.00 GBP
Roger Dubuis’s laboriously numbered Hommage watch has a 43 mm, 18K white gold case, a ‘mother of pearl’ dial, white gold and blue steel hands, applied and painted numbers, and is fully mechanical and manually wound.
The Hommage’s complications include bi-retrograde perpetual day and date calendar, week, month, leap year and moon phase indication, and minute repeater with hours and minutes struck by gongs.
In a limited edition of a nine pieces, each with its own hand-sewn crocodile strap with 18K white gold buckle.
Ten Day Tourbillon by Patek Philippe (Swiss, Founded 1839).
A small second hand gives you something to watch on the commuter train. A rectangular platinum case with a 32 mm movement diameter surrounds a rose gold dial. Water resistant down to 25 metres.
- In 1999 the most expensive watch ever sold was a 1933 gold Patek Phillipe with 24 complications.
It was auctioned off at Sotheby’s for 11 million USD (over 6.2 million GBP)
Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370 by Parmigiani Fleurier (Swiss, Founded 1996).
Approximate Cost:113 052.00 GBP
After 20 years experience of restoration and creation, Michel Parmigiani set up a Complete Manufacturing enterprise in Switzerland with the assistance of The Sandoz Family Foundation, and has produced some remarkable timepieces in the past ten years.
Inspired by the classic motor car company, the Pamigiani Bugatti Type 370 is a sports car for the wrist that turns time telling on its side with the first-ever transversal movement.
Resembling an engine block, the watch’s movement is divided into five separate plates, with hours and minutes appearing on its side and push-button crowns for setting and winding on the back.
A patented power reserve ensures 10 days of walking around time, while the eight-part case includes six sapphire crystals which reveal automotive-inspired components including double-rim shaped wheels. Tailor-made Hermès straps are suited to the wearer, and purchasers can count on being invited to Fleurier for a factory tour with Michel Parmigiani. Limited to 150 pieces — 50 each of red, silver and black dials, and only 50 individual pieces per year for the next three years.
Magistral Tourbillon by Girard-Perregaux (Swiss, Founded 1791).
Approximate Cost: 158 315.00 GBP.
Part of the Haute Horlogerie collection, the Magistral Tourbillon is hand-wound. The see-through, 36-by-37 mm case reveals the beauty of Girard-Perregaux’s tourbillon movement and is water resistant down to 30 metres. On the dial reside two seashell-shaped indicators, one for the instantaneous calendar and the other for 110 hours of power reserve. Missing are: 2, 4, 8, and 10 o’clock!
Perhaps Girard-Perregaux became widely known due to a co-branding partnership agreement with Ferrari, the Italian motor car company, between 1994 and 2004. This has been replaced by the yachting sector with the BMW-Oracle Racing collection.
Girard-Perregaux Tourbillons are known for having three gold bridges and no other watch manufactured during our times goes back as far: the first tourbillon with three gold bridges dates from 1889.
They do a popular Art Deco style ‘Vintage 45’, Tonneau and the famous Opera 1, Opera 2 and Opera 3s.
Now part of SoWind Group that includes Jean Richard and EMG.
Grande Complication by IWC (International Watch Company) (Swiss, Founded 1868).
Approximate Cost: 101 740.00 GBP to 158 315.00 GBP.
The IWC brand is perhaps most popularly linked with Mercedes-AMG motor cars.
But the watchmakers from Schaffhausen are also pretty famous for their Pilot’s Watches and Diver’s Watches too.
Their Grande Complication has 659 mechanical parts, it is self-winding and features 17 functions all together, including chronograph, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, perpetual moon phase with a disc of burnished gold, small seconds with stop function, and four-digit year display.
The 101 740.00 GBP to 158 315.00 GBP price range is because of the case — which comes in platinum or yellow gold — and the strap — with alligator at the low end and a pure platinum bracelet at the high end.