Every year, watch connoisseurs head to Switzerland for the watchmaking world’s most important exhibitions – BaselWorld and Salon Internationale de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) on a journey to discover the most innovative and beautiful timepieces to be introduced for the year.
Following their debuts at these exhibitions, brands begin releasing their masterpieces to the public over the next few months, with some surprises along the way to enhance the collections for the year.
Some go straight to private collectors while most models are given the star treatment as magnificent masterpieces through exclusive events with serious watch enthusiasts and media members with an expertise in timepieces.
In 2018, the watchmaking world saw the introduction of some fabulous watches, and while there were many contenders for the title of most impressive, we narrowed down the 10 marvellous timepieces to make their debut this year.
Our selection of the best luxury pieces include the aesthetically beautiful, the technologically innovative and the pieces which embody both time-honoured watchmaking craftsmanship paired with modern techniques.
Patek Philippe introduced a chronograph intended exclusively for ladies back in 2009, an exclusive debut of a classic manufacture-made chronograph movement (column wheel, horizontal clutch, manual winding) that had been developed entirely in-house.
In 2018 the Genevan manufacture enriched its collection of complicated wristwatches for feminine wrists, endowing this highly-coveted chronograph with a totally new face in the form of the Ref. 7150/250R-001.
The cushion-shaped case has been replaced with an elegant, round rose-gold case with a diameter of 38 mm featuring a bezel set with 72 diamonds. The watch’s timelessly sleek design is enhanced by refined vintage-look details such as the fluted and delicately curved strap lugs, the round chronograph pushers with manually guilloched faces, and the gently cambered sapphire-crystal “box” glass.
The silvery opaline dial also combines a modern style with classic aesthetics, showcasing sculpted Breguet hour and minute hands in rose gold and a display layout that makes it eminently legible. Its pulsimeter scale pays tribute to the tradition of classic chronographs that can measure the cadence of an active lifestyle or the slightly increased heart rate of its wearer, and a compact case accommodates the manually wound caliber CH 29-535 PS movement with an instantaneous 30-minute counter, crowning its classic architecture with six patented
Its lavish finissage can be admired through the box-type sapphire-crystal case back that is slightly chamfered to echo the profile of the rear bezel. This stunning piece is worn on a shiny mink gray alligator leather strap secured with a rose-gold prong buckle that sparkles with the fire of 27 diamonds.
The RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman, a beautiful piece that is certain to be a talking point among your friends and colleagues.
Featuring an in-house automatic tourbillon movement, this watch embodies the vitality of the brand’s commitment to femininity. The mechanism incorporates a new automatic tourbillon that is slim, ultrahigh performance and enhanced with sparkling diamonds, mother-of-pearl, onyx and black sapphires.
The ten variations of the RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman weave together the cutting-edge technicity specific to Richard Mille and the unique sculptural qualities of fine art jewellery, highlighting their respective strengths.
Richard Mille has resolutely stepped into the realm of high-end jewellery watchmaking. The 10 variations on the new RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman weave together the ultra-technicity specific to Richard Mille and the sculptural universe of fine jewellery.
By allowing the talents of his team free rein in terms of development and creative energy, the better to encourage them, Richard Mille has reached a new level of autonomy, a sure sign of well-earned maturity.
Bvlgari’s Octo Finissimo Automatic in titanium was awarded the highest accolade at the iF Design Award, the iF Gold Award in the “Product” Category.
Chosen by a jury of 63 independent experts from the international design community, this prestigious award, bestowed on only 75 of the over 6,000 products taking part in the competition.
The Octo Finissimo Automatic in titanium stems from an approach to design that puts innovation to the fore: innovation in terms of form, materials or typology, resulting into ultra-thin Grandes Complications that are radically different from the rest of the industry.
Innovation is featured in all elements of the watch: its movement, its transparent case-back, its dial and its bracelet, all made of the same material – titanium – and all with the same sand-blasted finish which gives the timepiece a monochrome look that complements its design and ultra-thin profile.
The bracelet was also a design challenge, and with the links that perfectly incorporate the folding clasp, it expresses not only an aesthetic but also ergonomics and a functionality that make Octo Finissimo even more unique when it is worn.
The Montblanc 1858 Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100, designed for mountain explorers, is a versatile timepiece which gives the wearer the opportunity to appreciate time in different ways.
It can be positioned on a table with a stand or combined with an in-built compass that can be accessed by opening it up to lay flat on a map for planning adventures, and it can also be transformed into a wristwatch thanks to a unique brown Sfumato aged calfskin strap with two pin buckles, which allows the watch to be worn on the forearm safely during exploration.
The 60 mm pocket watch is made of grade-two titanium and combines polished and satin-finishing and powered by the new Montblanc Manufacture calibre MBM16.24, a beautifully hand-crafted monopusher chronograph movement with the iconic V-shaped chronograph bridge and the Minerva arrow, which is inspired by the Minerva Monopusher chronograph calibre MB M16.29.
Special attention has been paid to the dial to offer excellent readability and performance during the day and night. It is crafted from Dumortierite stone, a natural mineral, giving a unique blue appearance.
A beautiful offering which embodies the best in innovation and aesthetics, the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph was introduced with two near series, each limited to 50 pieces, that reimagine the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph.
The 45 mm case which is a first for the Royal Oak Offshore gives these pieces a very robust feel. It houses a brand-new technical movement design that embodies Audemars Piguet’s expertise and bold approach.
Used previously in Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronographs, the movement has been entirely reimagined exclusively for the occasion, and with a new architectural construction featuring sandblasted titanium bridges and satin-brushed chamfered edges, the movement looks as if it were suspended from the bezel.
New construction include sandblasted titanium bridges and satin-brushed chamfered edges, and to allow light to pass through the piece before hitting the sapphire caseback, the movement is exposed to the maximum.
To mark its 185th anniversary, the brand took a new step in terms of mechanical and aesthetic expertise with the new Reverso Tribute Tourbillon Duoface, a highly anticipated version of the Reverso Tribute.
It combines the flying tourbillon with the Duoface concept, two techniques that represent absolute sophistication.
Equipped with the new manually wound calibre, Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 847, this unique timepiece is a show of exclusivity down to the very few number of models produced.
A limited edition of 50 pieces, each representing a pure expression of unique watchmaking expertise, it is reflective of how the iconic Reverso has proven time and time again to be one of the most beautiful rectangular watches in the world.
Since its creation in 1931, the model has always rotated by means of an ingenious system of flipping the case. This trademark mechanism has often been imitated but never quite equalled. It continues to be a source of inspiration for watchmakers, artists and artisans of the Grande Maison, as well as a source of delight for lovers of rare and precious objects in which the level of sophistication is paralleled only by mechanical excellence and aesthetic achievement.
Bell & Ross
Following the brand’s first completely transparent watch launched in 2016, the BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire appears yet again in three unique pieces, the most beautiful of all being the Blue.
Notoriously difficult to work with, sapphire is the embodiment of invisibility: a paradox of solidity and visual transparency. Referred to as corundum by scientists, it is the second hardest material on Earth after the diamond, almost impossible to scratch and proving a true technical challenge for watchmakers to create a case from a block of sapphire.
The case of this watch is made from five blocks of sapphire, which are carefully worked on before being assembled with the greatest precision, and having achieved this with the earlier version, now, Bell & Ross has experimented with extreme transparency while adding colour.
The blue version honours the traditions of watchmaking with a movement inspired by the blued colour of the hands on vintage timepieces.
This deep blue, paired with the transparency of the case and bracelet, adds a modern dimension to the watch.
The blue version will be available from 21st March on Mr Porter, the award-winning online destination for men’s style, which has been a Bell & Ross partner for a year.
The beauty of mosaic is brought to life on this 41mm-diameter Archeu “Robe du Soi” watch, using the meticulous assembly of multi-coloured fragments of which the combination forms an artistic motif.
On this piece, 2,200 tiny juxtaposed leather squares form a horse profile inspired by the Hermès “Robe du Soir” silk scarf designed by Florence Manlik in 2018.
Set against an electric blue backdrop and matching strap, the colourful fragments are lit up by the rose gold glow of the round case with its asymmetrical lugs and slim leaf-type hands.
A full year and a half was devoted to devising a process that her touch alone is capable of mastering. For several weeks, Manlik patiently fashioned a miniature work of art composed of thousands of variously coloured leather squares.
No less than 3,500 tesserae were finely cut out from carefully selected full-grain calfskin, and subsequently, to fit inside the even smaller space afforded by the dial, 2,200 leather fragments composed an equestrian motif picked up from the Hermès “Robe du Soir” silk scarf.
Issued in a 12-piece limited numbered edition, the Arceau “Robe du Soir” watch transposes the art of contemporary mosaic into the playfully creative world of Hermès.
The HL Vagabonde model, made in two versions, is inspired by satellite systems depicted with three discs, open-worked to display the hours, orbiting around the central minute disc causing a hypnotic effect in the form of a circular dance of the numbers.
This creation is driven by a new self-winding calibre, the HTL 205-1, developed from the HMC200 movement created by H. Moser & Cie., Hautlence’s sister company.
Set on different levels, four discs add volume to the dial, which provides a deep black background. The largest, made of sapphire adorned with the brand’s signature Honeycomb pattern, displays the minutes within a 240° sector.
Orbiting around this central point, and spread out across the dial in perfect harmony, are three smaller skeleton discs, open-worked to allow the hour numerals to be seen once they come into the correct alignment.
Pictured here is the HL Vagabonde 01, a classic monochrome version, which showcases tones of grey, black and white, while the HL Vagabonde 02 is in black and vibrant orange.
Driving the rotation of the discs, the HTL 205-1 bidirectional self-winding movement guarantees a minimum power reserve of 3 days. Made from titanium or DLC-coated titanium, the HL Vagabonde case boasts the TV screen shape iconic to Hautlence.
The case has been specially reworked for these pieces, reinterpreting the brand’s signature codes. Enlarged and equipped with a wider opening on the dial, it truly showcases the complication. With its balanced proportions, the HL Vagabonde model sits perfectly on the wrist.
A sight to behold and a one-of-a-kind piece any woman would be lucky to have grace her wrist, the La D de Dior Précieuse à Secret is more like a precious jewel than a mere watch.
Adorned with a delicate white opal cabochon, it is secretly disguised as a jewel, and sometimes as a watch, revealing itself only to the discerning eye.
The middle case, dial, crown and bracelet are subtly paved with snow-set diamonds, an attire so fine it will be difficult to find another watch as beautifully decorated as this one.
Softly and delicately coloured in a combination of pink gold, sparkling diamonds and fiery white opal, this timepiece looks forever feminine and timeless.
It plunges us deep into the heart of exceptional jewellery-making know-how and the Dior Fine Jewellery universe.