We live in an era of cool, digital timekeeping. Our workdays are defined by electronic objects made from metal and plastic. Asphalt, glass, steel, and concrete surround us in our cities. No wonder we yearn for something different — for warm colors, materials from living sources, wood grain, textured leather and textiles; for the look of lifelike materials such as bronze, which changes over time and acquires a unique patina. Bronze also recalls the pre-industrial era and ships, which — despite the simplicity of their navigational tools — helped us discover and explore entire continents. In this feature from the WatchTime Special Design Issue 2017, we present several watches created using natural materials.
1. Fine Leather: Hublot Classic Fusion Berluti Scritto
Hublot collaborated with renowned luxury shoemaker Berluti to create the Classic Fusion Berluti Scritto. This watch combines two of the most distinctive features of the French leather specialist: Venezia calfskin with its signature light-to-dark tones and script originating from 18th-century calligraphy. Because leather is a living material it must undergo special treatment to inhibit moisture that would affect the movement inside the airtight case. Hublot’s proprietary King Gold is a perfect complement to the “tobacco” leather dial. The watch is powered by automatic Caliber HUB1100, which is based on a Sellita SW 300. This model is limited to 250 pieces and is priced at $29,400.
2. Bronze Diving Helmets: Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition
Oris dedicates its bronze dive watch to Carl Brashear, who in 1948 became the first African-American U.S. Navy diver. And he was the first soldier who continued working as a diver despite the amputation of his leg. The watch’s 42-mm bronze case recalls old diving helmets, which were still made of this material in the 1950s. The unidirectional rotating bezel and the clasp on the leather strap are also made of bronze and acquire its distinctive patina. The brown leather strap and dark blue dial, combined with the bronze metal, provide an interesting color combination. The automatic Sellita SW 200 movement powers the watch. The 2,000-piece Carl Brashear Limited Edition costs $2,800.
3. Bronze and Military Textile: Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze
Tudor equips its Heritage Black Bay Bronze with a case made of aluminum bronze that quickly acquires an attractive, aged patina. It is resistant to salt water and is ideal for use as a dive watch. The bezel and dial are rendered in a coordinating brown tone. This dive watch has an olive-green and khaki textile strap, completing the retro-military look. The French marines used a similar strap for their Tudor dive watches. An in-house caliber MT5601 with automatic winding continues to run for 70 hours without additional power, and is tested and certified by COSC. This 43-mm bronze watch costs $3,975. It comes with an additional aged-leather strap.
4. Ship’s Clocks of Wood and Bronze: Bell & Ross BR 01 Instrument de Marine
Bell & Ross found inspiration for its BR 01 Instrument de Marine watch in the marine chronometers of the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s not just the dial that recalls a ship’s clocks, but also the bronze case and the square frame made from Indian rosewood. This precious wood is hard and durable and presents a har-monic color composition alongside the bronze case and brown crocodile strap. The watch is powered by hand-wound Caliber 203, which is based on a Unitas 6498. Bell & Ross offers 500 pieces of the BR 01 Instrument de Marine, each priced at $8,700.
6. Wood Dashboards: Ralph Lauren’s Automotive Skeleton
Ralph Lauren’s Automotive Skeleton combines a black bead-blasted case with a bezel made of amboyna wood. This special hardwood comes from an Asian evergreen tree and is often used for musical instruments because of its beautiful grain. This natural material makes each watch unique. Company founder Ralph Lauren owns a black Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupe from 1938, and the materials and color of its dashboard inspired the look of this watch. The blackened and skeletonized hand-wound Caliber RL1967 is based on an IWC proprietary movement. The 45-mm watch is priced at $50,000.
In our Design Issue we present even more special watches, including models inspired by tattoo art and high fashion. Get the Design Issue in our online shop and discover these and many other avante-garde timepieces.