Live & Let DIY
Get acquainted with 2012’s most headline-grabbing independent creations.
After carving a reputation for itself as one of modern watchmaking’s most progressive brands, MB&F has been making waves with its one-off collaborations. Recent tie-ups with watch designer Alain Silberstein, jewellery company Boucheron and Chinese artist Huang Hankang to reinterpret its watches have roused immense interest.
This year, the brand enlists Finnish watchmaker Stepan Sarparneva to rework its HM3 Frog watch. In Sarparneva’s hands, the Moonmachine’s iconic amphibian-inspired profile is transformed into a piece of celestial art, featuring a multi-layered winding rotor that depicts the northern night sky and the watchmaker’s signature moon-phase mechanism.
HM3 Moonmachine, $137,600, by mb&F
from The Hour Glass.
Julien Coudray 1518
A new kid on the indie block, Julien Coudray 1518 is a three-year-old brand, founded by respected watchmaker Fabien Lamarche, who boasts over 20 years of experience working for the likes of Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
Despite its youth, the brand’s spirit is resolutely old-school. Its debut collection is the Manufactura 1528, limited to 38 pieces each in various materials. The collection demonstrates the brand’s in-house manufacturing prowess, featuring hand-wound three-handed movements made of thermal-treated gold or platinum. Technical attributes aside, the brand’s other big pull is its antiquated handcrafted artistry, especially on the dials that feature intricate enamel work and engraved Renaissance motifs.
Manufactura 1528, CHF$60,000, by julien coudray 1518 from E'Collezione.
Among the brand’s noteworthy offerings this year is the Horizon by Kaws, a collaboration with the American contemporary artist. The watch immediately draws one’s attention to its dial, which depicts a gaping cartoon mouth with what looks like chopsticks for hour hands — both of which are Kaw’s signatures. Elsewhere, the watch boasts top-notch construction with a robust and curvaceous titanium case.
Horizon by KAWS, $23,900, by ikepod from the hour glass.
Celebrating its 10th birthday in style, De Bethune gets generous with a long-awaited gift: An entry-level version of its famously upscale timepieces. The DB27 Titan Hawk is a modern masterpiece not to be missed.
Despite indicating only the time and date, the watch has plenty going for it under the hood; most pertinently, a new silicon-infused in-house caliber, the S233. Design-wise, it oozes the brand’s signature sculptural sensibilities with a 43mm titanium case, refined multi-layered dial with blued hands,
and spring-loaded floating-lug system.
DB27 Titan Hawk, $60,700, by de bethune from The Hour Glass.
Despite taking much heat for making unapologetically far-out and ultra-expensive watches - think cases with salvaged Titanic steel and 1980s video game-inspired designs - Romain Jerome shows no signs of letting up with the latest Red Mood Chrono.
Hailing from the best-selling Moon Dust collection that features mineral dials containing actual moon dust, the Red Mood Chrono also displays the same feature. The key difference between this and earlier Black Mood and Steel Mood models is its case material: Embellished with carbon fibre inlays, the new 46mm red gold case adds sporty luxury to the collection.
Moon Dust Red Mood Chrono, $43,460, by romain jerome from Dickson Watch & Jewellery.
Franc Vila hit the ground running in 2005 and has gone from strength to strength with collections that span a gamut of complications and material experimentations.
This year’s FVa35 SuperSonico 5 Minutes Repeater continues its fine run featuring said complication in a blackened “lightnium” case, an ultra-light alloy comprising lithium and aluminium. As with its brethren, the SuperSonico is easily identified by the huge “8” on the dial, a design signature christened as “Esprit Unique”.
FVa35 SuperSonico 5 Minutes Repeater, $ 91,130, by franc vila from Dickson Watch & Jewellery.
When it comes to aesthetics and technical focus, Urwerk stands head and shoulders above its contemporaries, thanks to a futuristic, proprietary orbiting satellite time-display system, the springboard for all its creations.
While the new UR-110 TTH sticks largely to the blueprint, its bezel comes in tantalum, a super-dense and corrosion-resistant metal, to enthrall fans. Also, the new bezel is 4.1mm thick, as opposed to the 2.4mm of its predecessors, which made the UR-110 TTH that bit harder to craft.
UR-110 TTH, $190,000, by urwerk from The Hour Glass.
French independent Bernard Richards Manufacture (BRM) applies its bold aesthetic sensibility to a range of old-world aviation-inspired timepieces.
Melding 1950s military nostalgia with Pop Art whimsy, the Bombers range comprises four chronograph models.
Wartime insignias, compass motifs, parachute silhouettes and propeller-style hands are set against colourful dials to create a heady picture.
Bombers chronograph, from $14,300, by brm from Yafriro.
H Moser & Cie
A decade earlier, H Moser & Cie re-launched - to critical acclaim - the magnificently austere Moser Perpetual 1 watch, which married complex perpetual-calendar functions with the design sobriety of a three-handed watch.
This year, the Meridian Dual Time expresses the same less-is-more spirit with pared-down classical styling and mechanical muscle - the HMC 346.121, Moser’s first automatic calibre.
Then, there is the Mayu Marrone Diamonds that exudes a feminine elegance apparent throughout, from the 64 brilliant-cut diamonds framing the dial to the appropriately sized 38.8mm-wide case.
Mayu Marrone Diamonds, $37,200, by H Moser & Cie from The Hour Glass.
Other noteworthy indie creations that have enamoured us in recent years.
Unveiled in 2010, the Series 2 Open Dial by English watchmaker Roger Smith parades his technical and artistic finesse for intimate inspection.
This watch by Dutch brothers Tim and Bart Grönefeld has the distinction of being awarded Watch of the Year 2011 by the aficionados at the TimeZone forum. Fully deserving of the hype, the One Hertz features a “dead-beat” seconds function, a rarity in a mechanical watch.
Saskia maaike Bouvier
She is the first woman to be nominated for a place in the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI), and makes complications dedicated to women. Bouvier’s Summer & Winter Time watch from 2005 is our pick.