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Now Reading: Clocking In: This Season’s Best New Watches

Clocking In: This Season’s Best New Watches

Moves by brands to spread watch news across the year are nothing new, but with next year’s shows delayed, this fall is already flush with significant novelties


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By Dubai Watch Week

02 Oct, 2019

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Given the extended period between watch fairs this year and next (SIHH and Baselworld have vacated their respective January and March slots and will run back to back over a 11-day period starting on 25 April in 2020), watch brands were always going to hold back some big stories till now to fill the gap – and so it has proved. Here are some of the new watches giving the watchmaking landscape its shape this fall.

Bell & Ross

BR 05

Bell & Ross BR 05

While many brands will content themselves with the launch of one halo piece at some point pre-Christmas, Paris-based tool-watch maestros Bell & Ross have gone the whole hog with a whole new line. The BR 05 taps into the 1970s vibe coursing through watch design at the moment, and even casual observers will note the visual similarities between the new piece and icons such as Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak. But suggesting it’s a copy-cat would be unfair – this is a standalone piece that deserves judging on its own merits, among which will of course be that it’s considerably less expensive and much more readily available than either of those models. The basic form is chunky but not overbearing, and defined by the marriage of square and round shapes, the four exposed screws in the bezel and the familiar Bell & Ross pilot’s watch dial. There are 10 models at launch, six time and date automatics, two with skeletonised dials, and two in rose gold, including one on a bracelet that is as distinctive as anything Bell & Ross has ever made. It represents a new direction for the company and has already split critics, but given the popularity of steel 1970s sports watches right now, it looks a smart move. Just one question remains – what happened to the Bell & Ross BR 04?

01-115-7759-7153-Set7-22-01TLC---Oris-Big-Crown-ProPilot-X-Calibre-115_HighRes_10036.jpg

Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115

Oris’s revival over the last five years kicked off with the introduction of Calibre 110 in 2014, the first movement the brand had conceived from the ground up in-house since the late 1970s. More recent introductions such as the Divers Sixty-Five and the clever reworking of its signature Big Crown Pointer Date model have given Oris back some of the relevance it enjoyed before the Quartz Crisis all but wiped it out. And it’s this that it feels serves as a platform to launch this avant-garde piece, the Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115, an experimental design that will sit at the top end of the company’s collection. Oris says the idea for the movement came first. Like Calibre 110, Calibre 115 has a thumping 10-day power reserve and a non-linear power reserve indicator, a curious but unique pairing of complications. These have been left relatively ungarnished, with matt black bridges fuelling the watch’s industrial aesthetic, and sit inside a titanium case said to have been inspired by architecture, forms found in nature and a stealth bomber. Whatever you think of the look, it’s a fascinating development for one of Switzerland’s few remaining mainstream independents.

Chopard Alpine Eagle

He might now be one of the senior figures in the watch industry, but 40 years ago when Karl-Friedrich Scheufele was taking his first significant steps at Chopard, he was very much the young buck, full of trailblazing ideas and designs that he felt would propel the family business forward. And so it was that in 1980 his first watch was released, the St Moritz, a fashion-forward sports watch now reborn as the Alpine Eagle. Mr Scheufele is said to have designed the new watch himself, and to have been inspired by his love and concern for the Alps. Taken at face value, the watch is another to pick up on the trend for designs from the 1970s, but it’s crafted from what the brand calls an ‘exclusive, ultra-resistant and light-reflecting metal’ called Lucent Steel A223 that was four years in development and is smelted in-house. It’s launch also times with news of the Eagle Wings Foundation, a fresh initiative set up to protect the Alpine environment and of which Mr Scheufele is a founding member. There are 41mm and 36mm models, both powered by Chopard movements, and both with sunburst blue or grey galvanic dials inspired by an eagle’s iris.

Jaeger-LeCoultre

Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s direction under its first female chief executive is starting to come into focus. This year, the Le Sentier company’s emphasis has been on ‘the art of precision’, an intangible concept that has found its sharpest form in the series of Master watches launched at and since SIHH in January. The latest of these, the 43mm white gold Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste, was unveiled at the Venice Film Festival and is as spectacular as anything that walked the red carpet during that week in September. Its flagship feature is an orbital flying tourbillon that makes a complete tour of the dial every 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds. That awkward unit of time is entirely deliberate – it’s the length of one sidereal day, measured against stars found far beyond the Sun. The dial is decorated with the night sky as seen from the northern hemisphere, so that we see the constellations of the zodiac calendar. It’s a magnificently esoteric creation and another symbol of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s continued watchmaking ambitions. Fortunately, it also tells the time of day.

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