Over the space of twelve months there has been significant amount of positive activity in the world of horology. Every year watchmakers try and create revolutionary timepieces. This has involved the development of more sophisticated movements and radical unconventional designs. I am also excited to report the introduction of an array of new materials normally only associated with the commercial industry. Ultimately this diversity makes my job as a watch writer significantly more interesting. Here are my highlights of 2013 in no particular order of preference.
BLU (Bernhard Lederer Universe) Gagarin Tourbillon
Veteran watchmaker Bernhard Lederer established his own company BLU in 2000. The wonderful Gagarin Tourbillon is his latest creation and was unveiled earlier this year. With classical dimensions of 42mm x 15mm the watch should appeal to serious collectors. The watch was made to commemorate cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic 108-minute journey into space. This theme is skilfully depicted on the hand engraved dial. Beneath the luxurious platinum 950 case lies a highly complicated mechanical hand winding movement. This calibre comprises 35 jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. Impressively each of the 264 components has been meticulously finished and decorated by hand.
McGonigle Tuscar Bánú
Luxury watchmakers McGonigle was established in Dublin by dynamic brothers John and Stephen McGonigle. All of their watches are made in very limited numbers and always by hand. The beautiful Tuscar Bánú is the company’s third and latest model. With an opulent 18 carat rose gold case diameter measuring 43mm this piece should entice many watch aficionados. The part skeleton façade is a revelation and works in prefect balance with the intricate circular grained pattern of the dial. It also gives the timepiece a really distinctive and refined appearance. To power the watch the company has devised a brilliant hand winding mechanical movement. The Calibre: McG01 contains 31 jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour.
Rebellion 540 Magnum Tourbillon
It was a real dilemma choosing between the phenomenal T-1000 Gotham and the 540 Magnum Tourbillon. As both of these unbelievable watches were released this year the decision boiled down to the choice of material used in production. The 540 Magnum Tourbillon is constructed from high performance carbon fiber, which is one of my personal favourites. Ultimately this means that even a watch of this size (46mm x 56.7mm x 19.6mm) would feel lightweight on the wrist. The skeletonised dial is fantastic and gives the watch a superb three-dimensional appearance. David Candaux at Du Val Des Bois has expertly developed the bespoke Caliber REB T14. This 38-jewel mechanical movement is constructed from aluminum, magnesium, titanium and carbon fiber. Each of the 490 components has been hand finished by master craftsmen.
Cabestan Terra Luna
In my opinion watch companies don’t come much more exciting than Cabestan. With innovations such as the Winch Tourbillon and Trapezium they have become the pride of the industry. Earlier this year and after much anticipation they released the wonderful Terra Luna. Measuring a colossal 46.5mm x 50.8mm x 19.1mm, this formidable timepiece is clearly designed to make a bold statement. The dial has a very futuristic appearance and exposes the avant-garde mechanics of the watch. I love the three-dimensional revolving moon phase indicator. Every aspect of this incredible timepiece has been seriously considered making it completely unique. The engine that powers this watch contains an unbelievable 939 components, which are entirely assembled by hand.
Experiment ZR012 by C3H5N3O9
The name C3H5N3O9 is an experimental development company established by Urwerk and MB & F. Their first creation is a concept timepiece based on the revolutionary Wankel engine. This imposing watch measures a staggering 55mm x 44mm excluding the crown and lugs. It also is constructed from a material called Zirconium, which is resistant to alkalis, acids and saltwater corrosion. I love the multi-layered façade that gives the watch a completely unique identity. Realistically the idiosyncratic design will only appeal to a very small minority of collectors. Nevertheless I believe this is one of the most visually striking timepieces of the year. To power the watch technical wizard Cyrano Devanthey has developed a highly complicated 42-Jewel hand winding movement.
Louis Moinet Derrick Tourbillon
Swiss company Louis Moinet SA drew its inspiration from the famous watchmaker of the same name. This incredible 19th Century horologist is the inventor of the modern day chronograph. The brand has paid homage to his extraordinary skills by designing a range of high-end quality timepieces. Recently they unveiled the sensational Derrick Tourbillon, which in my opinion is their most successful creation. The watch has a large diameter of 47mm and is encapsulated in luxurious 18-karat white gold. What makes this timepiece stand out is the working oil derrick and majestic tourbillon movement. Beneath the refined exterior lies an accomplished mechanical movement comprising 19-jewels and oscillating at frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour.
Vianney Halter Deep Space Tourbillon
Award winning Parisian watchmaker Vianney Halter is renowned for his range of stunning timepieces. This year he unveiled the utterly mind blowing Deep Space Tourbillon. The design of this wonderful timepiece was inspired by Sci-Fi movies from the 1960’s. Dimensionally the watch measures 50 mm x 53 mm x 20 mm making it one of his largest creations to date. Due to the fact the case is constructed from titanium the watch only weighs 90 grams. Visually the timepiece is mesmerizing and the skeleton dial is spectacular. I also love the dome sapphire crystal, which gives the watch a space ship like appearance. Underneath the futuristic exterior lies the complicated Triple Axis Central Tourbillon caliber VH 113. This movement comprises 41 jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour.
Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement
Girard-Perregaux is synonymous with the production of high quality and well-designed timepieces. Recently the company was awarded the prestigious Aiguille d’or prize for its magnificent Constant Escapement. This fabulous timepiece involved five years research & development. The basic principle of the timepiece is to achieve an even rate of energy at all time. Essentially this improves the accuracy and power reserve of the watch. With a large diameter measuring 48mm the piece will definitely make a positive statement. I love the overall simplicity of the dial, which delicately exposes the intricate mechanics of the timepiece. The 28-Jewel movement contains 271 individual components, which have been finished and decorated by hand.
Logical One by Romain Gauthier
Within the space of six years Romain Gauthier has made the leap from CNC operator/programmer to world famous watchmaker. By far his best achievement to date is the exceptional Logical One. This wonderful watch has recently won the Men’s Complication prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2013 awards. Measuring only 43mm x 14.2mm the case size is smaller than many of the other watches featured in this article. The multi-layered dial is very effective and gives the watch a three-dimensional appearance. Beneath the sophisticated façade lies a patented chain-and-fusee style constant force mechanism. This 60-Jewel movement contains 394 hand-finished components and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour.
Hublot MP-05 La Ferrari
There is no doubt that Hublot are one of the most prolific watchmakers in the industry. Since the appointment of Jean-Claude Biver in 2004 the company’s annual output has significantly increased. The MP-05 La Ferrari is one of their most radical and ambitious designs. What effectively started life as a concept has become (in my opinion) one of their most attractive timepieces to date. Admittedly the enormous measurements of this watch (57.15mm x 51.10mm x 26.25mm) and the cutting edge styling won’t appeal to everyone. The dial is composed of black aluminium cylinders, which display hours, minutes and second functions. Powering the watch is a 108 Jewel mechanical hand wound tourbillon movement comprising 637 components. Impressively this timepiece also has a world record 50-day power reserve.