I’ve recently gotten excited about Philipp Plein watches, but not for the reasons you might think. The German fashion designer has teamed up with Timex Luxury (which also designs and produces watches for Versace and Ferragamo, among others) to build watches together, and the duo has been remarkably prolific. Mind you, these aren’t exactly enthusiast watches, but there is promise. The zeal and zest for truly “fun” watches from Philipp Plein leads me to believe that, if ushered and guided properly, the quickly growing fashion house could be a serious future player in the high-end watch space. For now, Plein himself is rather infatuated with putting his own hallmark on some “popular” contemporary watch designs. If you look at Philipp Plein watches, you will see explicit nods to Hublot, Rolex, Richard Mille, Bulgari, and Patek Philippe. I think Philipp Plein will begin to adopt more distinctive features and original design elements into the brand’s time-tellers. For now, let’s see what playful new rainbow watches (a trend of particular interest to Philipp Plein, at the moment) are available.

I had a chance to handle the men’s Philipp Plein $keleton Royal Automatic reference PWPFA0424 and the women’s Philipp Plein $pectre Lady reference PACA-WWS0048-PXV090N_0121 (PWTAA0223) watch. While these watches are from different collections, what they have in common is the “rainbow bezels” made up of colorful synthetic baguette-cut stones. The shine and color these offer are remarkably addictive once you have them on your wrist. Both watches also feature aesthetics now common to Philipp Plein timepieces, including the use of hexagons echoing the brand logo, as well as skulls. This latter element is more central on the men’s watch, with the dial having a large skull and crossbones motif, but present on both watches in the form of the counterweight on the seconds hand and on the buckle. Don’t forget that the packaging for these products also looks like a skull.

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The Philipp Plein $pectre Lady tips its hat quite heavily to the Patek Philippe Aquanaut, and here is 38mm wide in steel (water resistant to 50 meters) with a quartz movement. The light silver face has a hexagon pattern but is otherwise relatively straightforward in its legibility. I think that was a wise move because compared to men, women actually report being more immediately interested in legible dials, even when it comes to otherwise playful timepieces. The bezel is set with richly colored Preciosa crystal elements that give the overall watch a feminine and beguiling look. What I think is very interesting is that even though both of these Philipp Plein watches have rainbow bezels, the specific colors used are different to help emphasize a slightly more masculine or feminine interpretation of gem-style rainbow bezel. Attached to the $pectre Lady watch in this form is a textured white silicone strap. Overall, the watch is a nice combination of trendy bold style, with daily wear convenience.

The men’s Philipp Plein $keleton Royal Automatic watch is a different beast. At 46mm wide (also water resistant to 50 meters) in black IP-coated steel, this Big Bang-style composition is specifically intended to be trendy and inspired, presenting the sharp contrast between the playfulness of shiny rainbow-colored crystals and the masculinity of skulls and dark tones. This is really a watch about colliding contrasting themes and seeing what comes of it. As weird as this watch is to describe, it is fun to wear because the watch simply doesn’t take itself too seriously — and that’s hard for many luxury firms at much higher price points to pull off. For now, at Philipp Plein, watches are positioned as entries into the larger Philippe Plein brand, as opposed to its highest-priced goods (which I believe are currently clothing collections). I believe that over the dial of the watch is a mineral crystal.

Unlike the quartz-powered women’s Spectre Lady Crystal watch, the Skeleton Royal Automatic has a mechanical movement. It uses a Japanese-designed NH70A automatic movement. While basic, the movement is adequate and offers a semi-skeletonized look to go with the larger “Skeleton” theme of the overall composition. The automatic movement operates at 3Hz with about two days of power reserve. The $keleton Royal Automatic is fitted to a rather comfortable strap in black silicone, which is perforated and cushioned, providing a nice wearing experience despite the heavier, top-heavy nature of the watch itself. There are similar versions of this watch with rainbow stones and skulls but with a tonneau-style case that Philipp Plein also produces.

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2024 is the year that Philipp Plein introduced its first tourbillon watch as part of its larger “Crypto King” collection (the brand actually accepts Bitcoin to pay for products via its website), but the average price point of Philipp Plein watches remains under $1,000, and closer to $500 for most models. There are certainly ways for the brand to go when it comes to rendering originality and fresh features for a timepiece enthusiast audience, but mainstream watch-wearers seeking something fun and spirited will enjoy these products. Price for the Philipp Plein $pectre Lady Crystal reference PWTAA0223 watch is $530 USD and the price for the Philipp Plein $keleton Royal Automatic reference PWPFA0424 is $880 USD. Learn more at the Philipp Plein or Madaluxe Time websites.

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