Geneva Watch Days wrapped up last week and with it came a slew of new releases from the world of high end watchmaking. This offers us a chance to indulge our penchant for the overly complex, beautifully finished, and just plain strange (in the best ways). We’ve pulled aside a selection of watches that caught our attention, and while we don’t expect to be adding any to our own collections any time soon, they remind us why we love the hobby as much as we do, and why we don’t wear smart watches.
We won’t get too deep into the weeds on the technical stuff, but you will see the term constant force appearing more than once. For the record, the term constant force, when used in the context of mechanical watch movements, is referring to the application of a consistent level of energy (force) to the escapement regardless of the amount of energy stored within the mainspring. With that, let’s jump in.
Bernhard Lederer Central Impulse Chronometer
This one is for the movement nerds among you. Bernhard Lederer is a German watchmaker who mostly makes mechanisms for other watchmakers and brands. That means he’s not particularly famous, but he’s certainly well known and respected in the world of high end watchmaking, especially in circles where old school chronometric precision is highly valued. His new watch, created under his own name, is the Central Impulse Chronometer, and is a working tribute to George Daniels, and, through him, Abraham Louis Breguet.
A full technical breakdown of the Central Impulse Chronometer is impossible within the scope of this short Geneva Watch Days highlight reel, but the gist is this: Lederer’s caliber uses a natural escapement, and is powered by twin gear trains, each of which is equipped with a ten-second remontoir. A rementoir is an ingenious watchmaking trick that allows constant force to be delivered to the escapement throughout a watch’s power reserve (accuracy tends to worsen as energy from the mainspring is depleted). A remontoir is wound up by the mainspring at a regular interval as long as it has power left in it, and impulses the escapement at a regular rate throughout the power cycle. And the CIC has two of them. It’s wildly complex, and worth taking a deep dive into, but even without expert knowledge of the mechanism, it’s easy to appreciate the mechanical artistry at play in Lederer’s beautiful creation. The Central Impulse Chronometer is available in both rose and white gold, in editions of 50 each. The retail price is CHF 128,000, and you can read much more right here.
Girard Perregaux Laureato
We touched on Girard Perregaux’s Laureato earlier this summer in our guide to forgotten watch brands. In the constant conversation around stainless steel integrated bracelet sports watches, the Laureato never seems to get its due. We’re unsure if the new “Infinity Edition” will do much to change that, but it definitely has a certain charm, and calls back to the original Laureato in interesting and subtle ways.
Girard Perregaux released several watches under the Infinity Edition banner this year, and they all include black dials made from onyx. Onyx dials are nothing new – they’ve been used in watches for years, mainly dressier timepieces, but they haven’t really been in fashion since the 80s. Working with onyx stones is difficult, but proper polishing leaves you with a black that is mirror-like, and gives a very different impression than a dial made from more traditional materials. On the Laureato, with pink gold accents, it gives the watch a retro vibe that’s in keeping with the use of onyx, and that period in the 70s when the Laureato was first introduced in a very different form factor, upon a watch landscape that is completely foreign to the one we now find ourselves in. It feels like a different type of throwback when it’s the materials and not the design that reaches back to the past, and I think that’s where this Laureato is appealing: modern manufacturing and movement tech, contemporary sizing, but a dial that’s straight out of the period when the watch originated. The Infinity Edition Laureato is limited to 188 pieces, with a price set at $ 13,200. Read more here.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Automatic
Leave it to Bulgari to have two of the most discussed watches at Geneva Watch Days, on entirely different ends of the spectrum, both in terms of price, and the general reaction. The new Aluminum sports watches that they debuted drew perhaps the strongest reaction on social media of any watch at the fair. It turns out that for many, the love for vintage inspired reintroductions stops short at that strange period in the 1980s when these were considered fashionable.
As if anyone needed a reminder that Bulgari is no longer simply the maker of fashion watches, they also introduced their latest Octo Finissimo, which, ho-hum, just happened to break another record, this time for thinnest tourbillon chronograph (that’s six similar records in total, in case you want to update your own tally). The Octo Finissimo, with an integrated bracelet and highly angular and distinctive design, is in many ways the spiritual heir to the Royal Oak and Nautilus. And Bulgari, in their ability to incorporate seemingly any complication, and combinations of complications, into the razor thin form factor of the Octo, have proven themselves year after year to be at the forefront of high end modern watchmaking, even if they also sell a $ 3,000 watch made from aluminum and rubber with an off-the-shelf movement. The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Automatic is limited to 50 pieces, and will set you back €150,000. More at Bulgari.
MB&F continues their partnership with L’Epée with the introduction of the TriPod, a table clock that takes inspiration from Jurassic Park and displays time through optical grade spheres. The strider-like body is a part of the Robocreature set, and places a refined mechanical engine from L’Epée within an organic structure thus bringing it to life. The pair have become adept at such creations, and the TriPod marks their 14th such collaboration. Time is read through optical spheres that magnify a pair of concentric rings that rotate to display the time. If you’re at all familiar with MB&F you know how creative they can be when it comes to displaying the time, and the TriPod is no exception.
The body is constructed of plated brass, optical mineral glass, fluorescent acrylic shields that can be had in green, red, or blue. Pricing for the TriPod is set at 24,500 CHF, with production limited to 50 units of each color. More at MB&F.
H. Moser Streamliner Central Seconds
H. Moser is following up on their Streamliner Flyback Chronograph released earlier this year with a time only variant that features a matrix green fume dial. The Streamliner was unique for its flyback chronograph function using the whole dial (no sub dials), and for its case and integrated bracelet design. The Central Seconds retains this look sans-chronograph, plus a trick green dial. The star of the show here is still the bracelet, which is novel to a steel sports watch, and combines finely brushed surfaces with deep polished chamfers in curvaceous links that look organic in structure. The cushioned shaped head of the watch receives a radial brush, continuing the sunburst like texture found on the dial. Inside sits H. Moser’s lovely HMC 200 caliber, which houses their own original Straumann hairspring.
This is a lot of watch even for its list price of $ 21,900. In a period where seemingly every brand needs a steel sports watch with integrated bracelet, H. Moser cuts against the grain by creating a wholly original take on the genre. More from H. Moser.
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE
The FB 2RE is one of the most technically impressive watches to be released at Geneva Watch Days. This is a watch that deserves far more attention than we’ll give it here, but the vital details read like this: “the fb-re.fc calibre, in addition to the constant-force mechanism, is equipped with a one-second remontoire visible on the back of the movement. It is one of the most complex torque regulation systems in the history of time measurement.” The constant force mechanism referenced there is a fusée and chain transmission with stopworks, and is paired with a and remontoir d’égalité (see the Central Impulse Chronometer above for further explanation) placed directly under the escape wheel. As the mainspring unwinds, it pulls the chain from the fusée, moving it to a larger “gear” as it goes, so the weaker the pull of the mainspring, the larger the radius of the fusee being used to maintain constant drive torque. In theory, this means the watch should remain remarkably stable in its accuracy through the entirety of its reserve.
All of this is isolated for proper viewing through the back of the watch along with the escapement assembly (see pics in the gallery below). The FB 2RE is the first Ferdinand Berthoud to feature a round case, and moves away from a regulator style dial to a more classic three hand layout. There’s a lot more we could say about this watch, but we’d encourage you to explore further at Ferdinand Berthoud.
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