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Bon anniversaire !
New Models

Bon anniversaire !

Friday, 19 June 2009
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Carol Besler

“Watches are functional art.”

Carol Besler covers watches and jewelry worldwide.

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6 min read

Several companies celebrated milestones this year with what are sure to become commemorative collector’s items.

Watch companies love to count birthdays, eagerly rolling out the party hats to celebrate everything from the anniversary of the launch of a key collection to the company’s founding year. The party is usually highlighted by a commemorative product launch, often a special limited edition. Several companies celebrated milestones this year with what are sure to become commemorative collector’s items.

Breitling introduced a 125th anniversary Navitimer following the original 1952 design, with a modern-style rigid “Air Racer” bracelet punched with holes. It contains a Breitling 26 Calibre, COSC-certified chronograph movement, which times to ¼ of a second and retains the collection’s iconic rotating bezel with circular slide rule. The model is limited to 2009 pieces in steel, but Breitling will also produce a limited edition of 125 pieces in 18k red gold with either a black or silver dial.

Bulgari’s new collection, the Sotirio Bulgari, marks 125 years since the eponymous founder opened his first jewellery store in Rome. Recently the company acquired Daniel Roth and Gerald Genta, catapulting Bulgari into the world of high watchmaking. The acquisition of case manufacturer Finger and dial maker Cadrans Design means Bulgari is now a fully integrated watchmaker. Calibres for the SB collection include the BVL 465 tourbillon/perpetual calendar; the BVL 360 annual calendar and retrograde date; the B 89, with a 150º retrograde date; the BVL 250, an automatic with 55-hour power reserve that will be used for the Sotirio Bulgari 125th anniversary limited editions (pink, yellow and white gold) of 125 pieces each.

Cartier salutes its lucrative 100-year presence in the United States this year with several watches. Officially, these include new steel XL Roadster watches, in a limited edition 800 pieces exclusive to the U.S. Unofficially, the brand recognizes the anniversary with a high jewellery watch designed in an American Eagle motif, one of three new pieces from the Animalier collection of three jewellery pieces, each priced at $156,600. Cartier also launched a new book, Cartier I Love You: Celebrating 100 Years of Cartier In America, written by Bruce Weber, and threw a star-studded bash at its New York flagship in April.


Cartier XL Roadster, limited edition © Cartier
Cartier XL Roadster, limited edition © Cartier

Maverick independent Christophe Claret celebrates 20 years as a watchmaker this year. His celebratory piece is the DualTow Calibre CC20A grande complication, a single-pusher planetary-gear chronograph, with striking mechanism and tourbillon. The watch is open-worked, with a unique belt display marking hours and minutes. A gong sounds each time the chronograph pusher is activated, saluting the manufacture’s expertise in striking watches. Claret’s first piece was a minute repeater.

Daniel Roth marks its 20th anniversary not with a special edition but by launching a new collection, the Endurer sport watch. Part tough-guy watch and part classic dress watch, the Endurer is made of blackTich titanium carbide, and mimics the barred mask used by masters of the Japanese martial art Kendo. Hour and minute totalizers share a single subdial at 6 o’clock, keeping the dial clean and uncluttered.

Omega marks both the 10th anniversary of the co-axial escapement and the 40th anniversary of the Speedmaster Moonwatch this year. Two limited-edition Speedmasters celebrate the brand’s status as first watch on the moon – it was tested and chosen by NASA in 1969 to be worn by astronauts on Apollo’s first manned lunar landing. One is steel and sterling silver and the other is platinum and 18k gold, both with medallions commemorating the moon landing. There is no limited edition celebrating the 10th anniversary of the brand’s co-axial escapement, but the movement bearing the mechanism is used in the new ProPlof (Plongeurs Professionels) diving watch, with helium escape valve and “sharkproof” bracelet.

Patek Philippe celebrates the 10th anniversary of the launch of its Twenty-4 collection for ladies’ this year with the launch of a yellow gold version (it was previously only available in steel or rose/white gold). The collection was the first large-production ladies line for Patek, which has traditionally produced mechanical watches for men. “Our ladies’ collections previously concentrated on classic watches and jewellery watches, with the exception of the Lady Nautilus,” says Jasmina Steele, international communications and public relations director. “The brand wanted to create a ladies’ watch in steel with diamonds that could be worn either with jeans or an evening dress.”


Patek Philippe Twenty-4® yellow gold © Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Twenty-4® yellow gold © Patek Philippe

The Piaget Polo FortyFive watch is named for its 45mm case width and the length in minutes of a polo match, rather than the anniversary it celebrates: it has been 30 years since the initial launch of the iconic Polo. The Polo FortyFive watch is a four-piece collection of titanium watches containing the brand’s in-house calibers: 800P, an automatic with a date window and a 72-hour power reserve; and 880P, a flyback chronograph with small seconds, date window and second time zone. Straps are made of injection moulded rubber, and the watches are water-resistant to 100 metres.

The enduringly cool TAG Heuer Monaco collection stands in perpetual commemoration of Steve McQueen’s famous wardrobe choice for his 1970 film Le Mans. The Monaco Chronograph Caliber 12 was inspired by McQueen’s flat-12 (12 cylinders) Porsche 917k, with blue and white instrument panels. The watch features an anti-reflective, double-sided treated sapphire crystal glass on the front and case back. TAG is also releasing a limited edition Monaco of 1,000 pieces with a caliber 11 movement.

Vacheron Constantin marks the 30th anniversary of the Kallista ladies’ line with a new diamond cut: the flame cut. Angles of the 57-facet cut are calculated to produce maximum lustre, radiance and light return. This is the only special diamond cut with “right” and “left” stones, and was specifically created for setting into watches. Two of the four jewellery pieces introduced by the brand this year incorporate the new cut: The Lady Kalla Flame timepiece, set with 200 flame-cut diamonds totaling 36.5 carats, and the Kalla Haute Couture à Secret watch, set with 28 flame-cut diamonds and 120 round diamonds, totaling 34.5 carats.

Zenith marks the 40th anniversary of its famous El Primero column-wheel chronograph movement with two limited series editions: the Originals and the Vintage 1969, which bears a 40th anniversary stripe on the dial. The automatic date chrono El Primero movement used for these has been named the 469 in honour of the year of invention. The stripe replicates the historical guilloche patterns on the watches over the years, including barleycorn, clou de Paris, Draughtboard and Grand clou de Paris.

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