Face Time: Delightful dial styles for discerning haute horology investors and collectors
Through the ages, many of the finest watchmakers have frequently sought inspiration from the worlds of art and fashion. Typically, this has led to powerful graphic imagery being incorporated into the delightful dial styles of some of the most memorable high-end precision timepieces. At present, numerous such high-concept horological high points merit particular attention.
First up, there is the third watch in Chopard’s L.U.C Skull One series, an exclusive collection inspired by Día de los Muertos – Mexico’s infamous Day of the Dead festival. Available as a 25-piece limited edition, its bold, high-concept design embodies the marque’s hallmark creativity and innovation, while also remaining a prime example of horological excellence. Its centrepiece is a vivid, pop art-inspired Mexican calavera – the annual festival’s unmistakable skull motif – presented in bright flashes of colour and surrounded by a 40mm black beadblasted, DLC-coated stainless-steel case.
In essence, the L.U.C Skull One Calavera Pop Art is a striking blackened stainless-steel watch powered by an exquisite, hand-finished mechanical movement. Defined by its uncompromising and iridescent homage to the Day of the Dead’s timeless rituals, its dial features a transferred skull motif in punchy hues of blue, red, orange, green and yellow, giving the watch an unashamedly non-conformist, pop-art feel.
Second up is something of a departure for Hermès, with the forefronting of its new Super H brand hero motif akin to a horological Bat-Signal in the sky above a stunning graphic representation of Paris. The timepiece in question – the Slim d’Hermès Minuit au Faubourg – ably fuses the world of pop art with the French capital’s iconic skyline and is available in two limited edition series, each comprising 24 highly distinct, exquisitely wrought watches. The singular style of the range, meanwhile, is largely derived from a celebrated silk scarf designed in 2014 by Dimitri Rybaltchenko, an award-winning French artist.
On its highly distinctive dial, the Eiffel Tower stands out against a sky streaked with clouds and studded with aventurine stars, while a beam of light (fashioned from Super-LumiNova) projects out from the unmistakable monument. It is surrounded by a hand-drawn, micropainted embodiment of Parisian life, with its multi-layered rendering bestowing a grimy canvas-like finish.
Equally enchanting is the fourth iteration of Roger Dubuis’ Urban Culture Tribe collection – the Excalibur Liu Wei Monotourbillon (MT). Keen to make this edition supremely special, the marque granted renowned sculptor and illustrator Liu Wei access to its fabled inner sanctum – the Manufacture itself. It was within its venerable walls that the much-admired artist set about reinterpreting the astral signature of the iconic Excalibur MT. Opting for a complex composite of multi-coloured lines, Liu delivered a stylised, bustling, digitised statement piece, which reinvented the original Excalibur MT as a beguiling blend of clashing colours and pulsing lights that uniquely captures the modern urban world.
Building on this, the brand then opted to enhance the hour markers with black SuperLuminova, creating a vivid glow-in-the-dark effect, which is most strikingly apparent under UV light. In a further refinement, the Roger Dubuis and Swiss Made logos have been accentuated with powdered SuperLuminova for the first time, an innovation that sees this element of the timepiece shift through three different colour variants – silver by day, green by night and blue under UV light.
Moving on now to something equally engaging for the lady who loves fine timepieces, the Vacheron Constantin Égérie collection, with its eternally elegant embrace of Haute Couture and Haute Horlogerie, was unashamedly conceived as a paean to discerning femininity.
Daintily engraved in the style of Burano lace, the dial of the Égérie Creative Edition sees five enchanting elements expertly superimposed to create a dial of rare distinction. Re-deploying an ancient decorative technique and executed by the marque’s master guillocheur on venerable 100-year-old equipment, the pleated tapisserie motif sits on a silver base, a fine counterpoint to the black enamel.
Commenting on the inspiration for the piece, Christian Selmoni, the brand’s Style and Heritage Director, said: “During the course of Vacheron Constantin’s long history, many of its finest timepieces have been inspired by embroidery and lace motifs, particularly those drawn from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras. More recently, lace has inspired our Métiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements – French lace timepiece combining guilloché work, Grand Feu enamelling and gem-setting.”
Finally, for this month, we turn to the Moonphase, Skeleton and Flying Tourbillon Pasha de Cartier watches. Developed and produced at the Cartier Manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the first of these features a delicate moon-phase movement in the shape of a circle surrounded by a midnight-blue star-strewn planisphere, a striking contrast to the typically bold design of a Pasha de Cartier watch.
(Text: Neil Dolby)