Some watch brands get all the credit, while others deserve more than they get. This six-pack – Breguet, Cartier, Chopard, Glashütte Original, Nomos and Tissot – does a great job. All six are extremely innovative and have a huge range of in-house-manufactured calibers. But the greater public of watch collectors and aficionados may not realize all that these brands are doing. In this article from my blog, Watch-Insider.com, I discuss the unsung strengths of these six watch brands.
Disclaimer: this is purely your Watch Insider’s personal opinion. And I want to note that I mention these six brands not to criticize them but to put them in the spotlight, since I know what they are capable of. In what follows the brands are in alphabetical order, so this is not a ranking. And after you read, please do comment – it’s much appreciated!
In the high-end segment of watchmaking, everybody talks about Patek Philippe as the be-all and end-all. Because Patek Philippe’s marketing is so strong, people tend to forget about other companies in this tier. But Breguet operates in this same segment and, in terms of innovation, it is the leader of the pack. Each year Breguet presents at least one stunning timepiece that highlights high-tech, high-end watchmaking. The brand has innovated by using magnets in watch movements and by developing ultra-thin and ultra-complicated timepieces. True to the legacy of its founder Abraham-Louis Breguet, who invented the tourbillon, today Breguet builds and sells more high-end tourbillons than any other Swiss manufacturer. Breguet manufactures some of the most beautiful dials in the industry and is a master of quality finishing. It also makes some of the most beautiful women’s watches and sports watches in its segment. The Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique shown here is one of the thinnest automatic tourbillons on the market, and one of the most beautiful.
Cartier has a history so rich that it would take several tomes to tell the brand’s entire story. Early in the 20th century, Cartier was an early adopter of the wristwatch and cooperated with the best movement manufacturers. Since 2009 Cartier has focused intensively on developing high-end and extremely creative in-house calibers. Carole Forestier-Kasapi, the head of the brand’s movement production, and her team of developers and master-watchmakers are responsible for more than 30 new in-house calibers. Many of the innovations presented through the Cartier ID One and ID Two concept watches were world-firsts. Cartier has also shown expertise in materials engineering: it has plans for an innovative approach to protecting its movements from magnetic fields. The brand operates out of several ultra-modern factories, the most impressive of which is in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Unfortunately, Cartier is still seen by some as a jewelry brand with minimal legitimacy in manufacturing wristwatches for men. The opposite is true! Cartier offers a variety of useful and/or so-called small complications as well as absolutely high-end timepieces. The Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Second Time-Zone Day-Night watch shown here is a good example of the brand’s creativity in working with a small complication.
Chopard has the same image problem as Cartier: many see it as a maker of bling-bling jewelry and not as a successful watch manufacture. However, the brand’s L.U.C movements have been entirely developed, crafted and assembled at Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier since 1996. Chopard’s range of calibers is huge and includes all complications, big and small, as well as a high-speed escapement. Some of the movements are even manufactured to the rigorous specifications of the Geneva Seal and the Fleurier Quality Foundation. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, one of the presidents of Chopard, is the mastermind behind these developments. He also spearheaded Fleurier Ébauches, a Chopard subsidiary that manufactures a variety of movements at lower price points and equips a growing number of Chopard wristwatches with 100% in-house calibers. The new Chopard Superfast sports watches are the best example: the collection includes an in-house automatic caliber, an in-house automatic caliber with power reserve, and even an in-house automatic chronograph caliber. Scheufele also invested in his own hairspring production many years ago, by buying 25% of the shares of Atokalpa. But the question is: who knows about all this? I do not understand why Chopard does not make even more effort to let the world know what it’s capable of. The Chopard L.U.C 1963 Chrono PuristS Edition shown here is a limited edition done for the PuristS watch forum.