Closing Time: We bid farewell to some of 2018’s most wonderful watches
From extraordinary extraterrestrial-oriented timepieces to the very nattiest nautical designs, 2018 has been quite a year in the world of high-end horology. With the nights rolling in and with many of us gradually growing befuddled at the thought of the festivities to come, what better than to take a timely trot through the final push of wonderful watches that made the Year of the Dog quite so great?
With the worlds of marine exploration and fine watchmaking sharing a long and intertwined history, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the tail-end of 2018 saw several renowned chronograph creators once again opt for a maritime motif. Taking point in this timepiece tsunami, of course, was Omega with its updated and upsized (42mm) Seamaster Diver 300M seen as glad tidings for all.
Coming with a Master Chronometer Calibre 8800 movement – one fashioned entirely from non-ferrous materials in a bid to insulate its precision mechanism from any adverse magnetic influences – as standard, it also features an enhanced helium escape valve design, ensuring that it will remain fully waterproof up to 50m down even should the valve open accidentally.
Holding steady on our oceanic overview, the next maritime masterpiece came courtesy of never-less-than-breathtaking Breitling, with the all-new Superocean Heritage II Chronograph 44 Outerknown marking the marque’s first collaboration with Outerknown, the California-based sustainable outerwear manufacturer. In addition to its durable, eco-friendly straps, this unashamedly athletic timepiece features a striking DLC-coated black steel case housing a Breitling Calibre 13 mechanical movement. A deep blue dial, complete with Super-Luminova-coated hour and minute hands and a shock-resistant uni-directional bezel, round out its distinctive devil-may-care dive-watch design.
Never one to be outdone, Tag Heuer’s own oceanic offering is equal parts H2O and 007, with its superspy stylings targetted more at a leisure-minded lagoon liquid luncher than a five-fathoms-down hardy ocean-bed explorer. Despite its aesthetic aspect, the watch – the Aquaracer Carbon – is still guaranteed to be water-resistant to a depth of 300m. With its black PVD-covered titanium case, carbon fibre bezel, fetching ‘carbon effect’ fascia and black textile straps, this is a watch to flaunt rather than to float about with.
In a timely reminder that all things maritime are not a solely male preserve, Chopard, meanwhile, fetchingly fused the very finest attributes of high-end jewellery and haute horology to fashion the limited-edition Happy Fish. With its delightfully dippy designation, its Happy Diamonds twirl atop an elegant deep blue mother-of-pearl dial, bedecked with a coruscating coral fish motif, making this a very savourable slice of ladylike luxury.
Another traditionally macho marque looking to pique the interest of the burgeoning number of women watch collectors is Patek Philippe, with the latest expression of its iconic Twenty~4 model – the all-new Twenty~4 Automatic – said to be the first-ever diamond-set steel model manufactured with the madame in mind. In another first, this classic 36mm timepiece comes fitted with a self-winding movement, a sweeping second hand and a dominant date aperture at 6 o’clock. With a staggering 208 Top Wesselton Pure diamonds gracing its bezel and lugs, this is one clear statement accessory.
For the more manly collectors on the lookout for a classic design, the latest iteration of IWC’s Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days surely merits serious consideration. For this decidedly regal revamp, the signature Portofino look has been refreshed with a slate grey fascia, which pairs compellingly with the brand’s debuting grey-suede straps. Undoubtedly the biggest plus though is its 59210 calibre movement, which twinkles enticingly beneath the transparent sapphire crystal caseback even as it delivers pin-point precision for up to eight days.
For a truly vintage look, though, discerning wanters of wonderful watches should check out Jaquet Droz’s new Parrot Minute Repeater. Exquisitely crafted in commemoration of the watchmaker’s 280th anniversary, this one-of-a-kind adornment boasts the brand’s signature Bird Repeater automaton in the form of gloriously-bejewelled macaws perched on its cover, both of which chirp and chime while winding. Blending time-honoured horological artisanship, including enamel inlaying and exquisite gemwork, with cutting-edge precision engineering, this peerless package has a US$1 million price tag – irresistible, though, if you want to end the year in true style.
Text: Tenzing Thondup