There are watches, and then there are watches. Here are six models that epitomise the luxury watchmaker’s craft: aspirational, perfectly engineered timepieces that ooze sophistication. Timepiece expert Norman Burns reports on the “super six”.
This year marks the centenary of Cartier’s amazing Tank watch, so named because its original shape resembles a WWI tank. They come in a range of shapes now but the original design is still eye-catching and as fresh today as when it was first released in 1917. With an automatic Cartier movement housed in a steel case, this model is priced at $4,800 — with a Tank you’ll join a long list of satisfied enthusiasts, which include the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Brigitte Bardot and Rudolph Valentino.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Impeccable production, state-of-the-art materials and quality control without peer, Rolex watches are built to last. The Daytona range has a cult following, and the shimmering 2017 incarnation takes things up a notch with a high-tech ceramic bezel etched with a tachymetric scale from which the wearer can calculate race speeds. The spectacularly accurate Rolex chronograph movement is housed in a waterproof Oyster case, and even the strap is a patented Rolex creation.
40mm yellow gold model $34,900 rolex.com
Abraham-Louis Breguet is regarded as a founding father of the Swiss watchmaking industry, and the legend behind many technical innovations still used today — including the tourbillon, used to offset the effect of gravity in mechanical watches. The company is still going strong, and with its Reine de Naples Mini 8928 models, Breguet amps up the wow factor for a woman’s timepiece: a bezel of 139 brilliant-cut diamonds encircling a mother-of-pearl dial. A fine automatic Breguet movement housed in a striking oval case powers the watch.
Richard Mille’s eponymous brand was born from an intense watchmaking passion, cutting edge technology, flawless design and space-age components. His creations jam an incredible amount of wizardry into timepieces that weigh less than the straps of most other watches. The new RM 50-03 McLaren F1 is constructed of a revolutionary new carbon-graphene material and at 40g (the skeletonised movement is an astounding 7 grams all up) is the world’s lightest chronograph. Just 75 are available worldwide.
From $1.35 million richardmille.com
Many watchmakers aim to transcend the mechanics of telling time through art, but few reach the heights of the venerable Vacheron Constanin. Merely owning a Vacheron is a status symbol in itself. Three new models in its Metiers d’Art Collection, the Copernicus Celestial Spheres, feature exquisite hand-engraving, Grand Feu enamelling and a stunning revolving Earth on the dial in a movement that is so accurate, Vacheron says it needs adjusting just once in 8,000 years. Prices range north of $130,000 for each piece.
From $130,000 vacheron-constantin.com
Geneva’s family-owned Patek Philippe produces some of the world’s most sought-after timepieces — customers include everyone from royalty to rock stars, and the company can boast of producing the most valuable watch ever made: a 1933 “super-complication” pocket watch that fetched a mind-boggling $24 million at auction in 2014. This beautiful new women’s World Time Reference 7130, with an 18K white gold case framed by 62 shimmering diamonds, personifies grace and elegance, and will do so for many generations to come.