Time Travellers – Wristwatches That Won’t Look Out Of Place A Century Ago

Specialist Picks • 27 Jun 2016

Time Travellers – Wristwatches That Won’t Look Out Of Place A Century Ago

by Low Ka Wei

There is no doubt that vintage watches are hot. But procuring one from the second-hand market can be fraught with risk: that bargain you bagged from eBay might be a fake or a lemon, leaving you with little recourse. While arguably less romantic, a brand new one comes with a warranty and the latest technology watchmaking has to offer. Here are five to consider:

Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref 5196G-001
Paying tribute to the 1932 original, this classic Calatrava is informed by that overarching Bauhaus maxim, form follows function. And since the purpose of a watch is to tell time, the dial is devoid of embellishments that may detract from the hands. Even the seconds, being seen as secondary to everyday timekeeping, is relegated to a sub dial at 6 o’clock.

The Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref 5196G-001 pays tribute to the 1932 original with the dial devoid of embellishments.

MB&F Legacy Machine 1
Now, something a little different. Instead of directly referencing the past, this MB&F piece imagines what it would be like if we took today’s watchmaking techniques and applied them to 19th-century inspirations. The result is this steampunk Legacy Machine 1. The design incorporates the lazy 2.5Hz oscillation of the pocket watch, the majestic twin arches a la the Eiffel Tower and a vertical power reserve indicator reminiscent of a miniature sextant, all enveloped by a crystal clear bubble sapphire dome.

The MB&F Legacy Machine 1 incorporates today’s watchmaking techniques with 19th-century inspirations.

Breguet Héritage Grande Date 5410
The tonneau is one of the earliest variants for the watchcase, and is immediately associated with the image of a fin de siècle gentleman in a waistcoat and leather driving gloves. This Breguet piece is a sophisticated 21st-century version of that shape with curvatures on two axes ensuring that it sits perfectly on the wrist. Otherwise, the aesthetics are delightfully vintage with delicate engine-turned motifs, with the large-date the only deviation, a concession to modern day usability.

The Breguet Héritage Grande Date 5410 features curvatures on two axes ensuring that it sits perfectly on the wrist.

Cartier Drive de Cartier
It is not very often that the venerable French luxury house introduces a completely new shape to its fine watch line, so there is much to celebrate about the Drive de Cartier. Inspired by vintage automobiles with flourishes like a guilloche on the dial that resembles the pattern on a radiator grille, it fills a lacuna in the collection for strong masculine watches. Best of all: it uses Cartier’s lauded in-house movement, the 1904 MC.

The Drive de Cartier is inspired by vintage automobiles and features a guilloche on the dial that resembles the pattern on a radiator grille.

Nomos Tangente 33 Karat
The wristwatches of old were usually simple affairs and this Glashütte-based maker harks back to that. Bucking the trend of massive dials, this Nomos boasts a small 33mm diameter. The gold-coloured dial, art deco numerals and dark brown velour leather strap all add to the elegant vintage feel of this hand-wound masterpiece.

The gold-coloured dial and art deco numerals add to the elegant vintage feel of the Nomos Tangente 33 Karat.


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