It would be a fallacy to propose that the world’s best watchmakers have just one timepiece which stands out more than anything else they have or will produce. With that said, top independents such as Urwerk, MB&F, Voutilainen, F.P. Journe, and De Bethune certainly have iconic models that aptly sum up a lot of the values we associated with these high-quality, and innovative companies.
While Urwerk didn’t invent the satellite display for telling the time they did bring the concept into the modern era and really adopted the unique format for indicating the hours and minutes as part of its brand identity. Wonderfully featured in the UR-210S, the satellites for indicating the time are supplemented with a power reserve as well as an activity indicator. Given that the Urwerk caliber UR-7.10 movement is an automatic, this activity indicator complication quite literally tells the wearer if they are moving enough to keep the movement wound. In a sense this watch offers a unique form of feedback to the wearer that increases their level of involvement with the watch.
MB&F began as the ultimate collaboration between design and horology mixing classic notions of mechanical technology with modern art. Founder Max Busser is a fan of all things space-age and has a deep love of vehicles. Inspired by spaceships and Japanese animation, the Horological Machine No. 6 is a lavishly designed and extremely unique piece of wearable art with a tourbillon movement. A small titanium shield door manually opens and closes over the flying tourbillon for added dramatic effect. Intended to be anything but mainstream, and very high-end, the HM6 easily sums up the strengths of the brand.
Voutilainen Tourbillon 6
Finnish-born watchmaker Kari Voutilainen and his small team in Switzerland are easily regarded as some of the top producers of classically inspired watches in the world. When you want a tourbillon-based timepiece it is often wisest to go this direction and the Voutilainen Tourbillon 6, with its large and beautiful exposed tourbillon and guilloche dial, are an excellent way to capture the visual fascination of this highly animated mechanical feature.
F.P. Journe Sonnerie Souveraine
Geneva-based independent watchmaker Francois-Paul Journe spent over six years designing and refining the mechanism in his Sonnerie Souveraine minute repeater watch. In stark contrast to the establishment he produces his striking watches in steel versus a precious metal because steel transmits sound much better than gold or platinum. Meticulously complicated and beautiful this watch combines the grand and petite sonnerie and minute repeater functions as one of the most important, and complex, chiming timepieces in the world.
De Bethune DB28T
When De Bethune designed the DB28 case it was to create a watch with articulating lugs that helped the case fit better on any wrists. This unique case design style has marked so much of why people appreciate this modern maker of mechanical watches. Using modern materials such as silicon and titanium, the DB28T includes a tourbillon as part of the in-house made movement. Not just any tourbillon but a high-speed 30 seconds (versus more typical 60 second) tourbillon that spins twice as fast for additional movement. Inspired by everything from classic horology to contemporary science fiction, watches like the De Bethune DB28T are for people who love mechanical things as well as modern times.