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A Christmas extravaganza
Trend Forecaster

A Christmas extravaganza

Friday, 11 December 2020
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Marie de Pimodan-Bugnon
Freelance journalist

“One must be absolutely modern.”

Arthur Rimbaud

It takes passion, a healthy dose of curiosity and a sense of wonderment to convey the innumerable facets of watchmaking…

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6 min read

Prodigiously complicated, fabulously precious (and extremely expensive), any one of these watches could feature on our holiday wishlist. For those of us who still believe in Santa, here are some of the year’s most remarkable timepieces. Because Christmas is a time for magic.

Give in to temptation with Bulgari

Will Father Christmas’s busy schedule leave him time to stop off in Rome and pick up one of the latest offerings from Bulgari? The Italian brand captures the opulence of the Baroque period in a trilogy of jewellery watches, part of its Barocko collection. Among them is this extraordinary Serpenti cuff watch, smothered in Akoya pearls and diamonds. Concealed beneath a rare 12-carat cabochon emerald, time is guarded by two sinuous serpents. Who could resist such temptation?

Serpenti High-Jewellery Baroque Pearls secret watch © Bulgari
Serpenti High-Jewellery Baroque Pearls secret watch © Bulgari
Shine like a diamond with Roger Dubuis

The name says it all. The ultra-precious Excalibur Superbia reveals a new facet of “hyper horology” at Roger Dubuis. Proof, if ever there was, that nothing succeeds like excess, its white gold silhouette dazzles with a carpet of 600 diamonds and blue sapphires. The Superbia is also a testament to the skill of the gem-cutter who gave these precious stones their tetrahedron shape, and the gem-setter who invisibly-set each one on the curved surfaces of the flange, bezel, case and crown. Inside beats a new double flying tourbillon movement, embellished with a diamond-set star. Because a complex mechanism is always a way to a man’s heart… yes, the Excalibur Superbia is made for a man!

Excalibur Superbia © Roger Dubuis
Excalibur Superbia © Roger Dubuis
Stay slim with Piaget

While most of us wait until New Year to shed unwanted pounds, Piaget gets a head start on our dieting resolutions. After all, the brand has been keeping trim since 1957. Its latest exploit is nothing less than the thinnest manual-winding mechanical watch in the world. At 2mm “thick”, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept revolutionises ultra-thin watchmaking by merging case and movement, and by shaving components down to unprecedented levels of thinness. Wheels, for example, measure 0.12mm while the sapphire crystal is a paper-thin 0.2mm. Beautiful things come in the thinnest packages.

Altiplano Ultimate Concept © Piaget
Altiplano Ultimate Concept © Piaget
Hit the right tempo with Vacheron Constantin

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s watch. Or perhaps just a little, when the watch in question is the Les Cabinotiers Grande Complication Split-Seconds Chronograph – Tempo: a unique piece that will thrill the heart of any aficionado of fine horological mechanisms. It is the most complicated wristwatch ever from Vacheron Constantin, with 24 perfectly legible complications shared between front and back of this reversible timepiece. Split-seconds chronograph indications and a perpetual calendar take up the front while the back is reserved for solar time, equation of time, sunrise and sunset, day and night durations, and age and phases of the moon. Add to this a tourbillon and a minute repeater, and you have a feast for the eyes and the ears!

Les Cabinotiers Grande Complication chronographe à rattrapante – Tempo © Vacheron Constantin
Les Cabinotiers Grande Complication chronographe à rattrapante – Tempo © Vacheron Constantin
Reach for the stars with Jaeger-LeCoultre

Fans of grand complications, this mechanical masterpiece from Jaeger-LeCoultre is sure to arouse your curiosity. Why? Because the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication combines a minute repeater with a star chart, complemented by an orbital flying tourbillon. It is, simply put, a stunning sensorial spectacle revealed on both sides of a watch proposed as 8 pieces in white gold – with the same number in pink gold – with a setting of baguette diamonds around the bezel. The romantics among us will appreciate that the star chart depicts the heavens as seen from the 46th parallel north: the location of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Manufacture in the Vallée de Joux.

Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication © Jaeger LeCoultre
Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication © Jaeger LeCoultre
Go wild with Hermès

After the cranky-looking bear of the Slim Grrrrr! and the howling wolf on the Arceau Awooooo, a T-Rex lumbers onto the dial of the Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh!. What a delight to plunge into this magnificently handcrafted tableau of leather mosaic and marquetry. The motif, interpreted from an original drawing by English artist Alice Shirley, took an entire month to complete, from individually cutting and applying the hundreds of tiny fragments of coloured leather that make up the T-Rex’s head and scales, to creating the dinosaur’s three-dimensional eye: a domed cabochon in Grand Feu enamel that is visible on both sides of this pocket watch’s cover. Horological credentials are guaranteed by the manual-winding minute repeater movement with flying tourbillon.

Arceau Pocket Aaaaaargh! © Hermès
Arceau Pocket Aaaaaargh! © Hermès
Step into the light with Hublot

Hublot takes diamond-encrusted watches to new heights with jewellery executions of its iconic Big Bang, Spirit of Big Bang and Classic Fusion. On the Classic Fusion High Jewellery, rectangular and trapeze-cut diamonds in an invisible closed setting spill across the dial like a glittering carpet of snow, converging towards the centre in hypnotic circles. The white gold case is also encrusted with baguette diamonds, as is the buckle for the strap. In all, a composition of 427 diamonds or 20.8 carats of brilliance to be worn preferably on a male wrist: this Classic Fusion High Jewellery measures 45mm in diameter!

Classic Fusion High Jewellery © Hublot
Classic Fusion High Jewellery © Hublot
Look and listen with Patek Philippe

Good news for fans of Patek Philippe grand complications: the Minute Repeater Tourbillon Reference 5303R-001 is now part of the current collection. Unveiled as a 12-piece limited edition in Singapore in 2019, this slightly modified execution will doubtless prove irresistible for chiming-watch enthusiasts, as the repeater mechanism is exposed on the dial side. This transparent architecture extends to the tourbillon whose rotations are glimpsed through the subsidiary seconds at 6 o’clock. All that remains is to enjoy the sight and sound of this stunning watch.

Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater © Patek Philippe
Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater © Patek Philippe
Kill time with The Unnamed Society and L’Épée

Seventy-eight carats, 2,518 diamonds in 21 different sizes, 140 hours to construct and 300 hours to set the stones: presenting The Diamond, a unique piece table clock from The Unnamed Society in collaboration with L’Épée. One can only be dazzled by the magnificent craftsmanship demonstrated by Salanitro, the Geneva studio that set the diamonds using the meticulous “snow spirit” grain crimping technique. Hundreds of brilliants of various diameters cover the surface in what may seem like a random pattern but is of course precisely calculated so that almost no metal appears between the stones. Why a revolver? As a reminder that our existence is fragile and that time is as precious as any precious stone.

The Diamond © The Unnamed Society x L’Épée
The Diamond © The Unnamed Society x L’Épée
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