A placky quartz or ‘smart’ watch keeps better time, yes; but, perhaps that’s to miss the point. A well-made mechanical wristwatch not only keeps perfectly decent time for every one of our quotidian movements, it is one of the purest results of form following function – even when that form happens to be suspiciously beautiful
Hermès Arceau L’Heure de la Lune
The night sky is mankind’s ultimate clock face, so it’s no surprise that it has featured on dials since we started supplementing the stars with mechanics. Here, genuine meteorite is inlaid with two mother-of-pearl moons, indicating the moon’s wax and wane in both hemispheres, as two orbiting subdials occlude and de-occlude every 28 days.
Blancpain Villeret Ultraplate Date
Just about as pared-back as a men’s dress watch gets. So where does your £16,200 investment go? There’s the exquisitely machined and hand-polished rose-gold case for a start, guaranteeing 30 metres of water resistance. Then, a wafer-thin movement (like, 3.25mm thin), comprising 210 similarly delicate components, including an antimagnetic silicon balance spring ticking at its heart.
Chopard LUC Quattro
The Gotham-style hands and tuxedo-blue dial are all very cool, but it’s the view from the back that really packs a punch; the ‘quattro’ of the title refers to Chopard’s renowned array of four stacked winding barrels, which add up to a full nine days of power. And don’t worry about forgetting to rewind – that’s what the steampunk gauge at 12 o’clock is for.
Omega Constellation 41mm Master Chronometer
The Constellation’s famous half-moons, or ‘claws’, now clutch a full 41mm of sumptuously sculpted steel and Sedna gold, a rose gold unique to Omega for its resistance to fade. The case is topped by a polished blue ceramic bezel with flawlessly smooth ceramic numeral inlays; all wrapping up the estimable Calibre 8900, resistant to all likely magnetism. . . even MRI scans.
Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref 5712G-001
When Switzerland’s most rarefied and classical watchmaker launched its first sports watch back in 1976, purists were understandably wary – just as they were when Audemars Piguet did the same four years prior. But luckily, Patek had the same designer, Gérald Genta on board and his striated TV screen with padded shoulders, AKA Nautilus, is still de rigeur Riviera fare.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox Timer
The ‘watchmakers’ watchmaker’ of the Vallée de Joux has virtually every skill and complication you care to mention mastered entirely beneath its own roof. So when J-LC finds a new way with a legendary watch, we pay attention. Here, a small, T-shaped countdown timer has been added in the centre of its Memovox alarm, showing how long you have before the internal hammer strikes. Handy, and neatly done.
Grand Seiko ‘Snowflake’ Spring Drive
Japan is rightly proud of its biggest and best watchmaker, Seiko, and the feeling is definitely mutual, as this love letter to the slopes of Morioka attests. A sleepy skiing resort by winter, it’s also home to the elite Grand Seiko division, whose Spring Drive mechanism sweeps the hands here as smoothly as the dial texture alludes to the surrounding slopes.
Rolex GMT-Master II
Its steel ‘Pepsi dial’ cousin, with original blue-and-red colourway, continues to command the longest waiting list at authorised Rolex dealerships (a list that can be bypassed by paying 50 per cent over the odds on the pre-owned market). But make no mistake, this is a hugely desirable chunk of horological history: the world’s most elegant multi-time-zone pilot watch, boasting a generous dose of in-house-smelted Everose gold.
A former 1010 cover star, we can’t get enough of this city slicker’s masterclass in dial design and case contouring. It’s wide, at 43mm (almost twice the size of Alberto Santos-Dumont’s 1904 original, commissioned to free up his hands at the controls of his flying machines), but the clever interplay of curves and industrial framework plants the watch on the wrist with great satisfaction.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Self-Winding
You’ll have to move fast to snap this one up, as only 20 alligator straps in ‘Harrods green’ have been assigned to Vacheron Constantin’s Traditionnelle, exclusive to the Knightsbridge emporium. As well as that gorgeous leather, complementing the case’s pink gold perfectly, the clear sapphire caseback reveals the classic VC calibre, 2455, painstakingly hand-finished to Poinçon de Genève standards.
Photography Adrien Dubost
Set design Paulina Piipponen