Buying Time: Time Moves On

The death of the mechanical wristwatch has been written time and again over the last 50 years. The quartz revolution was certain to decimate the industry, followed by the digital revolution. Indeed, watchimaking is changing to keep up with the times, as craftsmanship, elegance, and innovation coexist. The measure of time is constant, but how it is expressed and displayed on one’s wrist is a crucible of change

UR-105 CT

The dynamic partnership of Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner has released their latest creation with a unique twist of individuality. The Urwerk piece displays the time in a most unconventional way, with rotating satellite discs and a sequential number arrangement. The rotating disks allow the time to be displayed both digitally and analog, depending on the user’s preference. The unique tonneau-shaped case is constructed of raw bronze, which is designed to acquire a specific patina based on the activity of the owner,ultimately making each piece an individually created work of art.

Starting at $69,000

Richard Mille
RM 031 High Performance

Richard Mille set out to create the most consistent mechanical timepiece in history, with a goal of less than 30 seconds of variation per month. In his pursuit of timing perfection, Mille utilized an escapement that was actually created for Audemars Piguet. This particular innovation combined two distinct elements that have been used for decades in high-end watchmaking. The engineers then injected argon, an inert gas, into the case to reduce any possible friction, thereby allowing the movement to function in a virtual vacuum. Only 10 examples of the watch in platinum will be produced. It may be the most accurate timepiece that Mille, or possibly anyone, has ever created. Only time will tell.

Starting at $1.05 million

Audemars Piguet
Minute Repeater Supersonnerie

A minute repeater is a watch that chimes like a giant clock, harmoniously playing sounds that alert the wearer to different increments of time, such as the hour, half hour, or quarter hour.  Minute repeaters were originally designed to allow someone to tell time in the dark. Few things could provide more of a conversation piece than AP’s latest minute repeater chiming away on cue. In what some refer to as the “grandest of complications,” this version boasts the loudest and most distinct chimes in the company’s history. A new striking mechanism, redesigned case back, and subtle anti-vibration technologies have allowed this 41 mm, navy-blue subtlety to ­really stand out.

Starting at $325,000

H. Moser & Cie
Pioneer Tourbillon

A black rubber strap belies the true measure of luxurious engineering present in this watch. Inside a red-gold case with a rich midnight-blue dial decorated with a sunburst pattern, lies an in-house-created tourbillion movement with serious technical specifications. The double-hairspring movement is designed to reduce the effects of gravity on the accuracy of the watch, providing for meticulously precise timekeeping. The tourbillion complication itself can be easily detached from the movement, making servicing the watch significantly simpler, allowing for everyday wear and tear (hence the need for the durable band).

Starting at $49,900

De Bethune
DB28 Kind of Gold

This stunning limited edition for the U.S. market was unveiled at the Miami Watches and Wonders show in honor of the blue ocean waters that are reflected in this vibrant piece. DB has one of the strongest reputations in the watch industry for technological innovation, and this watch does not disappoint. With nearly 300 parts, and four patented pieces unique to the brand, this piece contains a triple-layer shock-absorbing system, along with a balance spring designed with a flat terminal curve. The spherical moon feature is also a DB original, bringing a distinct flair to one of the more sought-after watch complications in the ­industry.

Starting at $125,000

A Lange & Sohne

A digital display in a fully mechanical timepiece, the Lange Zeitwerk is truly an engineering marvel. A massive mainspring is necessary to provide enough power to accurately rotate the disks that digitally display the changing minutes and hours. A rolling second hand builds constant visual tension as one is glued to the display, waiting for the minute disk to simultaneously shift into position. A power-reserve indicator is important to monitor because the amount of torque required to spin the disks dissipates fuel like a high-­octane race car. And if your eyes are not glued to the front, the exhibition case back reveals one of the most intricate and beautiful watch movements imaginable.

Starting at $77,400