It really has been a fun year in the world of watchmaking, and as the landscape continues to change in terms of movement supply, we are seeing more and more impressive and innovative movements being manufactured in-house by watch brand than ever before.
As 2017 is just starting and SIHH is quickly approaching, we are taking a bit of a retrospective look at some of the killer in-house calibers that we continue to be amazed by all of these months after they were unveiled in Basel or Geneva in 2016. It was a hefty list to pick from, but to keep things short and sweet, here are our top 5 from 2016. We’re looking forward to seeing with 2017 brings!
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie
Having taken the title of Mechanical Exception at GPHG this past week, we absolutely cannot ignore AP’s astounding minute repeater masterpiece. Sure, it cost more than your average 3-bedroom house in Philadelphia — $597,400, in case you’re wondering — but it’s also the most impressive-sounding tourbillon minute repeater we’ve ever come across. Finding a cutting-edge minute repeater that isn’t traditionally styled is a relatively rare occurrence, not to mention the fact that it boasts a beautiful open-worked dial that showcases its painstakingly complex movement perfectly set inside its contemporary titanium case.
Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Platinum
Back in January, one could argue that Jaeger launched one of — if not THE — coolest Reverso of all time. Sure, there had been a Gyrotourbillon 2 before, but the refinement of this newest model really push it over the top. The new movement is 30% lighter than the original version from a handful of years back, and above all else, the hand engraving work that adorns near every static movement component is truly a sight to see. Shy of the brutally complex Grande Complication à Triptyque, this piece is the ultimate in grail-worthy Reversos out there.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton
It’s been quite the year for Bulgari when you get right down to it. The Octo series of watches continues to garner praise as the line continues to grow, and the brand managed to hit the record books yet again at Baselworld in 2016 by unveiling the world’s thinnest minute repeater currently in production.
Picking either of those two timepieces would have been easy, however we’ve developed a particular fondness for the Octo Finissimo Skeleton after seeing it hands-on a few times throughout the year. Its tastefully skeletonized movement allows the majority of its geartrain and escapement visible to the naked eye, including such a subtle details as exposing its ruby pallet forks, all the while providing indication for running seconds and power reserve alongside its hours and minutes.
Hublot Big Bang Meca-10
The Hublot Big Bang collection grew yet again this year, but without a doubt the all-star of the pack was the all new Meca-10 and its whopping 10 days power reserve. The marketing materials speak of drawing inspiration from those old Meccano sets that many of us played with as kids, and I’m the first to admit they did a killer job of translating that aesthetic vision into the watch itself.
Its primary power reserve indication is a simple wheel with stenciled numbers indicating the number of days remaining, while a secondary indication via a larger gear at 3 o’clock exposes a red marker that only becomes visible when the reserve drops to three days or less. Any kind of hand-wound piece with this kind of power reserve is worth coveting, but one that looks like this? Yeah, I want one (and you should to).
Zenith Academy Georges Favre-Jacot Tourbillon
Much in the same way we love the TAG Heuer Monaco V4 for its innovative use of a belt-drive system for power transfer in its movement, the Academy Georges Favre-Jacot’s use of a chain and fusee mechanism is all sorts of cool. Designed as a means of smoothing out the energy delivery of the mainspring as it unwinds, the practice is by no means new, though it first made its way into a wristwatch in 1994 in the A. Lange Sohne Tourbillon Pour Le Merite.
Unlike that piece, Zenith uses the chain mechanism as the centerpiece of its design, taking up the entire upper half of the opening which would have otherwise been its dial. Available in either rose gold or black ceramic the two variants are distinctly different from one another, though both are beautiful timepieces in their own right.
What do you think 2017 will bring?