When watchmaking collides with childhood memories, it usually ends with something along the lines of Mickey Mouse. But when Maximilian Büsse of MB&F was inspired by the 1970s cartoon character Captain Future, the result was Horological Machine No.6 (HM6) "Space Pirate." This luxury bit of haute horlogerie not only reflects the style of an outer space adventurer’s ship, but is also piece of high-tech mechanical watchmaking with 475 components – 80 in the case alone.
The Bible talks about beating swords into plowshares, but what about Kalashnikovs into timepieces? Swiss watchmaker Fonderie 47’s Inversion Principle has done just that with a luxury watch made in part from the steel of a deactivated AK-47 assault rifle and subtle design cues from the firearm. According to the company, part of the watch’s price goes toward helping to disarm and aid Africa.
Buying a mechanical watch with a finely-crafted tourbillon
movement can set you back tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, but if you don’t mind one made out of plastic and a bit larger than usual, 3D printing may be the answer. Computer scientist and watchmaking enthusiast Nicholas Manousos has created a printable version of the famous watch movement called Tourbillon 1000%. Fabricated from thermoplastic and ball bearings, it may not be practical, but it's certainly eye catching.
Ten years ago, TAG Heuer unveiled its Monaco V4 Concept Watch
, which was the world's first watch to incorporate belt drives, linear mass and ball bearings. In 2009, the watchmaker released the production version, simply called the Monaco V4
. At Baselworld 2014, we recently spied the latest incarnation, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon. It's reportedly the first watch to ever feature a belt-drive tourbillon complication.
It’s easy to get dismissive of upmarket astronomical watches in this age of cheap digital apps, but it’s still impressive to see what can achieved with mechanical movements – and how that can still sometimes put the apps to shame. For example, we got a look at Swiss watch maker Antoine Martin’s Tourbillon Astronomique watch at Baselworld this week, which can not only tell what time the Sun will rise and set at, but even has a few tricks that you won’t find at the app store.
At the 2013 Geneva Motor Show in March, Ferrari unveiled its latest flagship supercar, elegantly titled LaFerrari
. It's a beast of a machine sporting almost 1,000 horsepower, and we featured a full write-up
(with plenty of photos) at the time of its unveiling. Now, just a couple of months later, a wristwatch designed to match the look and feel of the LaFerrari has been announced. Those with deep pockets and a penchant for luxury watches should read on, while the rest of us instead resign ourselves to looking at our phones when we need to know what the time is.
Last year, Hublot hit Baselworld 2012 with its limited edition Antikythera watch
inspired by the Antikythera mechanism
– a 2100 year old analog computer found off the shores of Crete that is considered the first "astronomical calculator." The company has kept the ball rolling at this year's Baselworld with another Antikythera device, this time in the form of the MP-08 Antikythera SunMoon watch.
Proof that the jewelery and watchmaking industries are indeed one and the same, is the Rebellion REB-5. The watch on the right is the base model REB-5, which sells for 189,000 Swiss francs (US$196,000) and it’s hard not to take someone seriously if they’re wearing one. The one on the left is unique. It’s the Rebellion Black Diamond REB-5 and the person who buys it will have parted with 890,000 Swiss francs (US$928,500).
Selling watches is no doubt getting harder these days as their primary function, keeping track of time, is duplicated by another technological item that is becoming ubiquitous – the mobile telephone. In recent times we've seen watches given a point-of-difference by including artifacts from the Titanic
and the Moon
, and the Louis Moinet Jurassic Tourbillon will feature at Basel in Switzerland this month. The Jurassic Tourbillon's dial contains fragments of authentic fossilized dinosaur bones around 130 million years ago.
offers unique watches that fascinate the technophile and fundamentally defy logic. The Day&Night watch, however, takes the cake for sheer outrageous “I-don’t-give-a-flying-toss” (but-really-I-do) elitism. It’s a limited edition of just nine watches costing US$300,000 apeice and all were snapped up immediately they went on sale. Here’s the kicker – the watches have no hands – they do not indicate the time in any way other than simply day and night – it’s the watch for people who are of such “independent means” that they do not care what the time is. Go figure!