Tag Archives: watches

Complex and Minimalist at the Same Time

Among fans of luxury watches, there are all kinds of subgroups.  Obviously, there are always going to be people who like their watches as complicated and as complicated-looking as possible.

Others admire elegant simplicity, and there’s something to be said for a watch that conveys simplicity.  Movado has gone that route for decades, though they’ve recently started to introduce some more elaborate-looking models.

h moser & cieYou have to hand it to H. Moser & Cie, however, for coming up with a watch that simultaneously manages to convey complexity and simplicity.  That’s hard to pull off, but they’ve done it with their new, limited, and very expensive Endeavor Tourbillon Concept.

This gorgeous watch offers what is very close to the ultimate in simplicity, as it offers a nearly-blank watch face completely lacking in hour markers.  There’s no second hand, either, and no date complication, day of the week, moonphase, chronograph or minute repeater.

No, this is a very simple, time-only watch…with a flying tourbillon at the 6 o’clock position.

h moser & cie Endeavor Tourbillon ConceptThe tourbillon and the hands themselves are the only things on the face of this watch that take away from the otherwise empty space.

All of this is housed in an 18k white gold case with sapphire crystal.  Inside is a in-house-designed 804 calibre automatic movement.  The watch includes a 72 hour power reserve.

The tourbillon is rather remarkable, as it has two hairsprings, which expand and contract in opposition to one another.  This is thought to make the watch more accurate, though accuracy in timekeeping is rarely the primary appeal of owning a tourbillon.  It’s more of the “I’ve got one and you don’t” sort of appeal.

The tourbillon in this particular watch is also modular in design, making it easy to remove (and replace, if necessary.)  That should save a little bit of money when it comes to those annoying, twice-a-decade returns to the factory for service, though if you’re worried about the cost of that, you’re likely not going to be in the market to buy the Endeavor Tourbillon Concept, anyway.

Sticker price for this absolutely stunning watch is some $69,000.

H. Moser & Cie is a Swiss company htat has been making watches since 1828.  The company originally sold movements, but eventually moved into making timepieces under their own name.

The company languished for quite some time, but made a comback starting in 2005 when Heinrich Moser’s great-grandson, Roger Balsiger brought the company into the 21st century with their cutting-edge, handcrafted timepieces.

At the moment, the company’s Website only shows 14 different models, but they’re all quite attractive (and all fairly expensive.)

As with most luxury watch brands, the watches of H. Moser & Cie are sold only through a limited number of authorized retailers.  In the United States, for example, there are only six such retailers, so unless you live on either coast or in Chicago, you’re going to have to travel a bit to try on one of their watches.

We suspect that it’s worth the effort.

Anyway, we look forward to seeing what else this interesting company might have to offer in future models, as they seem to know how to make an attractive watch.

Unusual Watch Case Materials Emerge

Sapphire watch case from HublotAside from appearance, most people don’t give a lot of thought to watch cases.  If you asked the average watch buyer what the case is about, they’d likely tell you that it’s to hold the movement.

In a practical sense, that’s pretty much all a case does, but that doesn’t mean that manufacturers aren’t spending a lot of time deciding what kind of materials to use in their cases.

Sapphire watch caseFor most watches, the material used for the case is stainless steel.  It’s relatively easy to work with, it’s a common material, it isn’t going to rust, and it doesn’t cost a lot of money.

You can coat it to give it a bit of color, but most of the coating processes will wear off with time and use.  If you want to keep the color and you don’t want a watch that just looks like it’s made from steel, then you’re going to need to find another material.

For high end watches, gold has long been the go-to material for offering a bit of luxury and a different look.  Gold (and platinum, as well) has a few drawbacks.  It’s expensive, of course, though that’s part of the appeal to luxury watch buyers.

Gold is also quite soft, and that can be a problem, as it scratches easily.  Gold has to be combined with other materials to make it more durable, but it’s still going to be quite a bit softer than steel.

With improvements in technology, a few manufacturers have taken to using other high-tech materials to make their watch cases, with varying degrees of success.

Here are a few materials that we’ve seen in recent high end luxury wristwatch cases:

Ceramic – This isn’t the stuff you work with to make pottery, but is instead a lightweight, durable material that can also hold color for life.  That makes it an ideal material for someone who wants a strong watch that can be offered in a wide variety of colors.

Carbon fiber – Carbon can be quite strong, (diamonds are made from it) and astonishingly lightweight, which makes for a great combination of properties to put in a wristwatch case.  On the downside, there’s nothing particularly luxurious about carbon, though it can appeal to people who are interested in rugged sports models and chronographs.

Damascus steel is a material we’ve seen offered from a couple of makers recently, and that’s rather interesting, as the process for making Damascus steel was reportedly lost sometime in the 19th century.  Damascus steel was used long ago in swords, and the process of repeatedly folding the material to get the impurities out leaves unusual striations in the material that make it quite unique and attractive.

Of course, calling it Damascus steel doesn’t make it so, but it’s a better name than “steel with lines in it.”

Damascus steel

Damascus steel

Bronze is a material we’ve seen in a few watches, and that’s kind of surprising, as bronze has a few qualities about it that make it not all that desirable to have in a watch case.  It’s rather soft and it’s also rather heavy and neither of those are endearing qualities.  On the other hand, bronze takes on a patina as it ages, and that patina can give the watch a unique look.  One can’t help but wonder if we’ll soon see copper watch cases for the same reason.

Sapphire – Yes, sapphire.  It’s expensive.  It’s difficult to work with.  It’s a material that can often look like plastic, which rather takes away from the fact that it’s a very, very expensive material.  How expensive?  Hublot makes a watch with a sapphire case, and it retails for roughly $60,000.

That’s a lot of money for a watch that looks like it might be made from plastic, but sapphire is attractive and does wear well.

All of these materials are interesting and if you have the money, they’re likely a good investment, too.  For most of us, we’ll just have to stick with stainless steel, and that’s fine.  Steel works well, and is cost effective.