La Montre Hermès added a unique piece to its Arceau collection this year, the Arceau Pocket Astrolabe, a pocketwatch that showcases the artistic technique of plique-a-jour enamel. Designer Pierre Marie created the decorative case cover for the watch, which features an illustration of an astrolabe, an instrument used to measure time by determining the height of the sun or moon above the horizon, using the three-stage enamel process. First, the artist etches out the motif from the baseplate, then fills the resulting cells (or “pliques”) with colored enamels, and finally removes the metal backing after several successive firings at 800 degrees Celsius, resulting in a translucent, stained glass effect. Under the enamelled cover, with its shimmering shades of blue, turquoise and indigo, you find the dial in midnight blue and the distinctive curved Arabic numerals of Hermès’s Arceau watches. Inside the watch is automatic Caliber H1928 by Vaucher Fleurier, with an 18k gold rotor and 55-hour power reserve. The alligator strap complements the indigo colors in the case cover and dial.
For its Bentley Masterpiece, a unique piece created in homage to Bentley automobiles founder Walter Owen Bentley, Breitling used as its base movement an ébauche from the 19th century. It took the company — which also produces a line of Breitling for Bentley wristwatches — an entire year to create the final product, whose centerpiece is a 550-piece movement that includes both a perpetual calendar and a minute repeater. The 18k yellow-gold case has a dial cover engraved with an image of Walter Owen Bentley at the wheel of one of his race cars, along with the initials “W.O.”
Despite being a relatively new brand, Bell & Ross has long demonstrated its appreciation of the vintage military and pilots’ watches from the early 20th century. The Vintage PW1 is the brand’s first pocketwatch, drawing its inspiration from the timepieces used by aviators in the 1910s, before the first World War helped popularize the wristwatch. It’s got a polished steel case, 49 mm in diameter, with a barleycorn guilloché caseback, a galvanic black dial with sunburst finish, and luminescent Arabic numerals. The fob attaches to a 30-cm steel chain. For more on Bell & Ross’s vintage military watches, click here.
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