November 7, 2014
by Kenny Yeo
Ask any watchmaker to list the top ten or even top five watchmakers in history, and chances are that Abraham-Louis Breguet is on that list. Breguet’s contribution to watchmaking cannot be overstated. After all, he is the inventor of the tourbillon and he also popularized the Breguet-style numerals and hands. And this month, we have a real treat for you, as we get up close with, not one, but two pocket watches and a clock that were made by Breguet himself in the early 1800s.
Since we are on the topic of antiques, we were also introduced to a special watch safe that is made using an antique medieval safe also dating to the 1800s. Leaving the realm of the antiquities, MB&F recently released a brand new Horological Machine watch – the HM6 Space Pirate – and we were there to check out Max Büsser’s latest masterpiece. Another piece of high-end horology that we spent time with recently is Ulysses Nardin’s Freak Cruiser. Even though the Freak was introduced some thirteen years ago, its design remains fresh and exciting today.
Finally, we find out more about exciting new watch escapements that are in development. We also investigate the growing trend of complicated female watches, and also how the watch industry is engaging the traditional arts to create exciting and artistic new pieces.
1. How One Guy Made A Shockingly Good Urwerk UR-202 Watch Homage
There is a saying that goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” In the world of horology, we could tweak that a little, and say, “If you can afford it, make it yourself.” This is certainly true in the case of François-Paul Journe, who famously made his own tourbillon watch when he was young, since he figured that he could not afford one. Following in Journe’s footsteps (somewhat), is a young engineering student called Karel, who fell in love with the Urwerk UR-202, but found its astronomical price tag to be a major hurdle to ownership (Karel, you are not alone in this). And so he decided to do the next best thing: put his engineering skills to use, and create a Urwerk UR-202 homage. The results, as I’m sure you will agree, are pretty good.
2. Savoy Watch Winder Safe No. 3 Mixes Modern & Vintage Parts For $825,000
If you have a watch collection worth millions, it might be wise to invest in a special watch safe, perhaps one that was designed specifically for watches and comes with built-in watch winders. It should also be a little special to match the status of your watches. If that is the kind of safe you want, the Savoy Safe No.3 is just for you. Made out of an antique safe from from the early 1800s, it is massive and immensely heavy (500kg) and also features an intricate locking system, which uses multiple keys and hidden releases.
3. Historic Breguet No. 3519, 4111 Pocket Watches & No. 2655 Carriage Clock Hands-On
No list of top watchmakers in history would be complete without Abraham-Louis Breguet. Although he is most famously known as the inventor of the tourbillon, Breguet also popularized the use of Breguet-style hands and numerals, guilloche decorations and also invented the gong springs used for repeating watches. Here is a look at a clock and two pocket watches manufactured by Breguet himself that date back to the early 1800s. One of them even fetched a whopping $2.7 million at a Christie’s auction in 2012.
4. Giuliano Mazzuoli Contagiri Watch Hands-On
Giuliano Mazzuoli’s watches are heavily inspired by automobiles. The previously reviewed Transmissione Meccanica was inspired by the transmission, whereas the newer Contagiri, that we just had the chance to handle, is inspired by the tachometer. But this watch isn’t just about the design, it also has a heavily modified ETA base movement that is single-handed and has a retrograde function – that means the hand jumps back when it cross 12:30. Furthermore, to ensure that it really looks as much as a tachometer as possible, Giuliano Mazzuoli has also done away with the crown. So how do you adjust the watch? This answer to this question and more are in our hands-on article.
5. Ulysse Nardin Freak Cruiser Watch Review
The Freak from Ulysse Nardin is an icon. If this were the first time you saw it, you would probably never have guessed that the Freak actually debuted thirteen years ago, in 2001. Not only was its design unusual, it was also one of the earliest watches to use silicon in its movement. Over the years, Ulysses Nardin has improved and refined the Freak, leading to the model that you see here – the Freak Cruiser. What’s interesting about this model is that it uses silicon for the hair spring and also its dual escapements. See what else is cool about this watch in our review.
6. MB&F HM6 Space Pirate Watch Hands-On Debut
A new MB&F watch is always something special and the latest HM6 Space Pirate is no different. Heavily inspired by the Captain Future anime that Max (the founder of MB&F) saw while growing up in Switzerland, the watch is, like all other MB&F creations, highly visual, unorthodox, and striking to look at. However, amongst all the HMs, the HM6 is probably the most visually exciting, thanks to the centrally mounted and raised flying tourbillon as well as the two regulating turbines. Find out more about this watch here.