Five “Uber Watches” from SIHH

Greubel Forsey Double BalancierThere are watches and there are watches. Included in the second category are pieces so technically extravagant, so hyper-engineered that they belong to a very special club. Their prices are stratospheric. Hardly anyone will ever own one. But they are fascinating nonetheless. As always, this year’s SIHH fair in Geneva in January brought out a fresh crop of these, what we might call “über” watches. Here’s a look at five of them.

The classic definition of a grande complication is a watch with a split-seconds chronograph, perpetual calendar and minute repeater. A. Lange & Söhne went beyond the requirements of this definition with its new, limited-edition (six pieces) Grande Complication: the watch also has grande and petite sonneries. The sonneries sound the time en passant, i.e., automatically, as time passes, versus on demand, as with a repeater. The watch also has, at six o’clock, a chronograph foudroyante seconds hand that enables the wearer to time elapsed intervals to the 1/5-second.

A. Lange & Sohne Grand Complication
A. Lange & Söhne’s grande complication has a foudroyante seconds hand at 6 o’clock and a four-year month indicator at 12.

Tracing their roots to the early part of the last century, Cartier mystery clocks combine art and magic, with stylish cases housing hidden mechanisms that drive hands that appear to float in space. At SIHH, Cartier brought this illusion to the wrist with its pièce de résistance for 2013, the Rotonde de Cartier Double Mystery Tourbillon. In this watch, a flying tourbillon appears to float within the dial as it both spins and rotates, an effect at once mesmerizing and baffling. Cartier achieves this magical manifestation by employing a construction used in its original mystery clocks, the key to which is two sapphire disks, one serving as a transparent bridge and the other as the tourbillon cage.

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Double Mystery Tourbillon - front
A flying tourbillon appears to float within the dial as it both spins and rotates.
Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Double Mystery Tourbillon - back
The tourbillon occupies a sizable 47 percent of the available display space.

Like the first two Gyrotourbillon watches from Jaeger-LeCoultre, the new Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 Jubilee has a tourbillon that rotates on two axes thanks to its two carriages. One carriage turns once every 24 seconds and the other once per minute. The point of the two-axis rotation is to improve on the performance of a standard, single-axis tourbillon by keeping the balance moving continuously through a range of positions. The watch’s movement, Caliber 176, has a spherical hairspring, which JLC says greatly improves its precision.

JLC Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 Jubilee - front
The watch is a chronograph with a jumping-minutes display in the subdial at 9 o’clock.
JLC Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 Jubilee - back
The tourbillon rotates on two different axes at different speeds.
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  1. George Michael. vlassis

    now you talking about the top shelf time pieces in the world very expensive for me my dream is to own a patek Philip watch or top of my list.zenith elprimero thanks again George from Sydney Australia

  2. Brian Pritchard

    Sorry I must be missing something. While a admire the engineering of all of these watches. They are five of the ugliest watches I have seen in a long time at any cost. I do have several high end watches in my collection a Greubel Forsey double Tourbillon in gold is one of them, aesthetically stunning and far nicer to look at than the example shown here. The Roger Dubuis silicon or not is as ugly as sin, I have Invicta watches that look better than that and that is saying something. The watches in the related part of the article in my eyes are the better looking watches.

  3. Debashish Das

    Fantastic watches! Unfortunately, prices are ultra-high! So, ordinary watch lovers do not have any chance of buying one of these great watches!

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