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The Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Sapphire Tourbillon

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Sapphire Tourbillon.

Bell & Ross bucks the prevailing trend toward design simplicity and limited functions this year with a complex, all-sapphire chronograph tourbillon, the BR-X1. There is nothing vintage or classic about this ultra-modern watch, which has a truly breathtaking case design, crafted from six blocks of fully transparent sapphire crystal. This affords a multi-angled view of the skeletonized movement, Caliber BR-CAL.285 made by Swiss complications specialist MCH using columns that slightly elevate the bridges from the main plate. Also, because it is a flying tourbillon, there is no upper bridge to block the view. Even the strap is space-age modern. It is made with a combination of translucent rubber with metallic Kevlar weaving.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Sapphire Tourbillon

This is a 45mm watch and thus, as Bell & Ross describes it, “masculine through and through.” Although it is a departure from the brand’s customary vintage aircraft instrumentation aesthetic, it does retain the signature squared case with screwed down construction. It is a limited edition of five pieces, priced at approximately $500,000. It is Bell & Ross’s most expensive watch to date.

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Sapphire Tourbillon.

Manufacture Royale ADN
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Best of the Indies: 10 treasures from Independent and smaller watch brands

Manufacture Royale ADN

Manufacture Royale ADN

The big brands aren’t the only ones introducing interesting watches in and around Basel during the watch fair. The unique creations of independent watchmakers are the main reason many aficionados make the pilgrimage to Basel every spring. They all have one thing in common: they combine traditional techniques with contemporary design and inventive watchmaking. They are also all about outstanding workmanship, and because they are made in very limited quantities, they are inherently rare, so getting your hands on one is a rare opportunity. Here are 10 timepieces not exhibited in Hall 1.0 at Baselworld 2017.

Romain Jerome Engraved

Romain Jerome Engraved

Romain Jerome Engraved

The Steampunk Auto model from Romain Jerome’s Engraved collection celebrates the industrial revolution. Zeppelins, steamboats, locomotives and submarines are engraved in red gold over the PVD-coated steel case. Notable details include the pistons at the 2, 4, 8 and 10 o’clock positions; hands shaped like the anchors of transatlantic steamships; rough-finished Roman numerals; and a propeller-shaped small seconds wheel.

Christophe Claret X-TREM-1 StingHD

Christophe Claret X-TREM-1 StingHD

Christophe Claret X-TREM-1 StingHD

Christophe Claret has embraced the Memento Mori trend in timepieces with this variation of the X-TREM-l, known for its innovative magnet-driven minute scale. The skull is subtly placed on the carriage of the flying tourbillon. Also, if you breathe on the sapphire crystal, a skull appears. It comes with two straps as well as a bracelet made by StingHD, adorned with a black diamond encrusted skull with ruby eyes. The case is titanium with black PVD.

MB&F Destination Moon

MB&F Destination Moon

MB&F Destination Moon

MB&F is unique in the world of watchmaking for its spaceship meets high-watchmaking aesthetic and its policy of partnering with unique talent. This is the brand’s sixth collaboration with Swiss clock maker L’Epee 1839. Destination Moon is a clock shaped like a rocket, with a vertically structured open-worked movement. Two aluminum disks indicate hours and minutes. The frame is made of stainless steel, with PVD coated landing pods that ground the clock.

Arnold & Son Instrument DSTB

Arnold & Son Instrument DSTB

Arnold & Son Instrument DSTB

This is a new steel version of the DSTB (Dial Side True Beat), with the true beat mechanism shown on the dial. Seconds are the focus here, and are indicated on a large subdial at 11 o’clock. Hours and minutes are shown on a lacquered dial at 4 o’clock, with a blue dial plate as background. The 43.5mm case is steel and looks bigger than it is.

Greubel Forsey Balancier

Greubel Forsey Balancier

Greubel Forsey Balancier

Greubel Forsey is known for its tourbillons, but the Balancier is a time-only watch with scrupulous finishing and the marque’s signature asymmetrical case. The focus is th large (12.60mm) adjustable balance, made in-house, and place in a diagonally inclined position. The base plate is made of German silver that is scrupulously finished. The words engraved on the caseback – including “exclusive,” “inventive,” “original,” and “architectural” – reflect the company’s mission statement. It is limited to 33 pieces.

MCT Sequential One S110 Evo Vantablack

MCT Sequential One S110 Evo Vantablack

MCT Sequential One S110 Evo Vantablack

Vantablack (Vertically Alligned NanoTube Arrays) is a new wonder material that at least two other brands are using this year. It is composed of carbon nanotubes that trap light, so it has a 99.965% absorption rate. The point? It makes things seem to disappear into an abyss: the skeletonized movement appears to be suspended in space against the vantablack dial plate. The hours are indicated by five prisms in four positions that flip.

Hautlence Labyrinth

Hautlence Labyrinth

Hautlence Labyrinth

To call this a timepiece is a stretch since it doesn’t actually tell time. It is, as its name suggests, a labyrinth, the child’s game of jiggling a ball through a maze. Worn as a wristwatch and set with diamonds, it is more like a bracelet for men. The dial is carved out of gold and the ball is platinum. The case is titanium.

Hautlence Vortex Bronze

Hautlence Vortex Bronze

Hautlence Bronze

Okay, this one tells time. The case is bronze, with a titanium crown, place at the top of the case instead of the side. The three-dimensional sapphire crystal displays the bridge-shaped caliber from both front and back. This is a big watch (52 x 50 x 17.8), with two barrels. Hours are displayed by a 12-link chain, hinged on a pallet system. It is limited to eight pieces.

Manufacture Royale ADN

Manufacture Royale ADN

Manufacture Royale ADN

This is a big watch (46mm) but the hinged horns (composed of more than 67 components) pivot to hug the wrist, which makes it wear much smaller and fit comfortably. The rubber strap also helps with fit. The skeletonized manually wound Caliber MR09 is a flying tourbillon with two time zones, including a jump hour for local time. The case is either steel, steel-DLC and forged carbon or pink gold and forged carbon.

H. Moser & Cie Heritage Perpetual Moon

H. Moser & Cie Heritage Perpetual Moon

Moser & Cie Heritage Perpetual Moon

Normally, a flinqué enamel finish on a timepiece is displayed on the dial or on portions of the dial. H. Moser breaks the rules with this stunning case-side application. Traditional elements include a luscious white grand feu dial, hand-painted Roman numerals, classic moonphase indicator, tubular lugs and lavish swallow-tail hands. This a 30-piece limited edition.

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Best of Baselworld 2017: New Watches From Blancpain, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Bulgari and more

Baselworld 2017 opening day.

New introductions at Baselworld this year tended to fit one of two categories. 1. Trends that reflect the times – and by “times” I mean an industry that is entering its third straight year of decline (see my story on that here) – with watches that are smaller, less complicated and more realistically designed and priced. And 2. Watches that reflect the fact that Baselworld is also about showmanship and haute horology, with high complications (like the Breguet Equation of Time) and metiers masterpieces (like the Dior VIII Grand Bal). Here are my top five men’s and top five ladies’ introductions for Baselworld 2017. Click on each link to find more pictures and detailed descriptions. Read more