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Watches & Wonders: the art of useful complications
Watches & Wonders

Watches & Wonders: the art of useful complications

Friday, 24 April 2020
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

“The desire to learn is the key to understanding.”

“Thirty years in journalism are a powerful stimulant for curiosity”.

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3 min read

Recent years have seen the return of useful functions and even “small” complications. Practical as well as more affordable, they encourage creativity in an already crowded segment. We look at some of the watches revealed ahead of Watches & Wonders 2020.

A quarter-second chronograph here, an annual calendar there, moon phases rubbing shoulders with a skeleton movement or fluidic hours… these ingenious mechanisms may not share the impenetrable intricacies of a grande complication movement, they are equally worthy of our admiration and more within reach of our aspirations; watches we can realistically dream of seeing on our wrist. We take a look at some of the latest propositions teased by brands ahead of Watches & Wonders, which opens online on April 25.

Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic Day-date Moon Phase

Baume & Mercier made a strong move in 2018 when it presented the Baumatic, its first in-house movement which maintains stable precision throughout its five days of power reserve and is unaffected by magnetic fields. This next-generation calibre, which has COSC chronometer certification, was designed as a workhorse movement, ready to accommodate additional modules. Which is precisely what Baume & Mercier is doing in its Clifton line, home of the Baumatic, including this model with day, date and moon phase indications.

Clifton Baumatic Day-date Moon Phase © Baume & Mercier
Clifton Baumatic Day-date Moon Phase © Baume & Mercier
Hermès Arceau Squelette

Designed in 1978 by Henri d’Origny, the Arceau watch is as compelling as ever with its clean lines, round case, asymmetric lugs and “galloping” numerals. For this Squelette version, Hermès is introducing a hint of mystery courtesy of a smoked sapphire crystal dial. The deep black gradient of the chapter ring, framed by a beaded minute circle and silvered numerals, leads into the transparency of the centre, where the heart of the skeleton movement is revealed.

Arceau Squelette © Hermès
Arceau Squelette © Hermès
HYT H₀

The latest in the H₀ family is an all-black execution with orange accents adding visual impact to passing time. True to concept, this monochrome version – sporting a 48.8mm black DLC-coated steel case – uses the brand’s signature fluidic technology to measure the hours by means of a coloured fluid that progresses through a borosilicate glass capillary. HYT continues to break the mould by “challenging the horological convention of affording midnight and midday artificial importance to instead focus on six o’clock.”

H₀ © HYT
H₀ © HYT
IWC Portugieser Chronograph

The Portugieser Chronograph is a mainstay of IWC’s offering. Distinguished by its thin bezel, a clear, functional dial showing two recessed counters at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock, applied Arabic numerals, slender Feuille hands and a printed quarter-second scale on the flange, it has become a classic of its kind… and the perfect repository for the new 69355 in-house movement, equipped with a classic column-wheel mechanism and automatic pawl winding.

Portugieser Chronograph © IWC
Portugieser Chronograph © IWC
Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece Vintage

Harmonious forms, gentle curves, legible, practical functions, flawless finishing and mechanical prowess: this limited edition contains all the familiar tropes of a Laurent Ferrier watch. Taking inspiration from 1950s models with their champagne-coloured dials, it makes the most of its vintage style in a 40mm steel case surrounding an opaline yellow gold-toned dial. Inside, the manually-wound Calibre No 126.01 with 80 hours of power reserve drives an annual calendar with day and month apertures together with a date hand, as well as subsidiary seconds.

Galet Annual Calendar School Piece Vintage © Laurent Ferrier
Galet Annual Calendar School Piece Vintage © Laurent Ferrier
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Twofold

Three world-firsts distinguish this Excalibur double flying tourbillon, starting with the case which introduces a blinding white, silica-based mineral composite fibre to watchmaking. Second, a patented process enables every angle of the movement’s upper plate not only to glow in the dark but to do so for longer than would standard lume. Third, the strap is made from a special FKM rubber while an innovative technology – LumiSuperBiwiNova™ – gives selected elements the power to light up the night.

Excalibur Towfold © Roger Dubuis
Excalibur Towfold © Roger Dubuis
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