This year was a pretty exceptional year for me regarding horology. As well as writing many articles I also managed to develop my own prototype (called the Polaris) with the generous assistance of Frank Heydrich. Going through this process really made me appreciate how difficult and expensive it can be to get a watch to market. Nevertheless I really enjoyed the experience and was able to share my insight with many of my watchmaking heroes at Baselworld. Every year these amazing artisans seem to set the bar higher and higher. Obviously it is impossible to compile a definitive list but here are some of my highlights from 2015.
Romain Gauthier Logical One Secret Kakau Höfke
Romain Gauthier is an exclusive watchmaker located in the heart of Le Sentier (Vallée de Joux) Switzerland. The Logical One Secret Kakau Höfke is probably his most original timepiece to date. This watch displays traditional proportions and has opulent 18-karat white gold case measuring 43mm x 14.2mm. What makes the timepiece so mesmerising is the meticulously handcrafted dial, which is inspired by the works of modernist artist Kakau Höfke. This original detail is composed of 352 individual Jade and Agate (0.5mm thin) tiles. Beneath the sensational façade is a patented 71-jewel (chain and fusee style) constant force mechanical movement.
Speake-Marin SA The Kennin-ji Temple Masters Project
Speake-Marin SA is a luxury English watchmaker based in Bursins, Switzerland. The Kennin-ji Temple Masters Project is a private commission, which took a year to produce. This watch exudes classical proportions and has a diameter measuring 42mm. What makes this timepiece so beautiful is the unbelievable amount of detail. The sublime 18-karat white gold case and dial feature two meticulously engraved dragons executed by master craftsman Kees Englebarts. Powering the watch is an accomplished Swiss made 29-jewel mechanical hand-winding movement.
MB & F Horological Machine No°6
MB & F (Maximilian Büsser & Friends) is a high-end experimental watch brand located in Geneva, Switzerland. This year the company released a second more exclusive version of the successful Horological Machine No°6 fabricated from 5N+ red gold. With an oversized case measuring 49.5 mm x 52.3 mm x 20.4 mm the watch is designed to make a bold statement. What makes this timepiece so wonderful is the perfectly sculpted futuristic case with 10 individual sapphire crystal windows. This incredible detail allows the recipient to view the mechanism and time in a completely original manner. At the heart of the watch is a complicated 68-jewel self-winding movement containing 475 parts.
Urwerk UR-1001 Titan
Urwerk is an innovative luxury watch brand located in the heart of Geneva, Switzerland. Watchmaker Felix Baumgartner and Chief designer Martin Frei own the company. At Baselworld this year they released their most impressive timepiece to date called the UR-1001 Titan. This watch is currently the largest mechanical wristwatch in the world measuring a whopping 106mm x 62mm x 23mm. What makes this watch so outstanding is the intricate multi-layered dial. This feature displays a phenomenal list of functions including retrograde minutes, seconds, calendar, day/night indication and “Oil change” indicator. Beneath the imposing façade lies a complicated 51-jewel mechanical self-winding movement.
Angelus U10 Tourbillon Lumière
Albert and Gustav Stolz originally established Angelus in 1891. La Joux-Perret SA resurrected the brand in 2011 and released a new timepiece called the U10 Tourbillon Lumière. This watch has a distinctive rectangular stainless steel case measuring 62.75 mm x 38 mm x 15 mm. What make this timepiece really stand out are the two sapphire windows displaying the time and a magically floating tourbillon. Powering the watch is an in house manufactured Swiss mechanical manual winding movement containing 38-jewels. The timepiece is limited to 25 pieces worldwide and priced at $102,773.