(Continued from Part 1) Mechanical marvels
Having moaned and groaned about the monsters, I’m now going to take a look at some of the mechanical marvels that I would be happy to put on my wrist. Some of them are large, but their size slots comfortably into my “Big is Beautiful” category, which is, give or take a millimetre or two, the size of the new Transocean Chronograph Unitime by Breitling.
In stainless steel or 18 carat red gold the 44 mm Transocean is equipped with a Breitling Calibre 05 manufacture self-winding movement with a 70-hour power reserve. There is a central quarter-second chronograph hand with 30-minute and 12-hour counters, a date aperture between 4 and 5 o’clock and a world time feature that features two mobile discs – a 24-hour disc and one bearing the names of cities representing 24 time zones. The time shown by the hour and minute hands is the local time—or that of the city/zone at 12 o’clock. To change the time zone, you pull out the crown and turn it forwards or backwards in one-hour increments to change the city disc and the 24-hour disc, and the date is simply adjusted in both directions to that of the corresponding local time. During these adjustments, the minute and seconds hands continue normally without any loss of precision and without affecting any chronograph timing operation in use. The dials are available in black or polar white and the watch is water resistant to 100 metres.
The Transocean Chronograph Unitime is easy to use, easy to read, offers the time at a glance and it looks great on the wrist anywhere in the world.
Breitling’s other gem this year is the Chronomat 44 GMT. Using the manufacture Breitling self-winding Calibre 04 movement, this “traveller’s chronograph” offers three time zones: home time, a 24-hour second zone indicated by the red-tipped hand and a rotating ratcheted bezel providing the 24-hour third zone. Turning the crown forwards or backwards to change the time zones doesn’t interfere with the minutes function. The watch is in stainless steel with a quarter-second chronograph and 30-minute and 12-hour counters with a date aperture between 4 and 5 o’clock. The dial comes in various colours and the strap is available in leather, rubber or as the iconic Pilot bracelet. Water resistant to 200 metres, this watch combines all the features I would want in a timepiece and looks remarkably elegant if you’re wearing denim or dinner jacket.
You don’t have to be an aviation aficionado to enjoy the timepieces by Bell & Ross that are inspired by cockpit instrumentation, but if you are, then the new Aviation Collection is a must. At 46mm they are more or less the standard for the brand’s BR collections, but although they are big they are supremely comfortable on the wrist and they certainly don’t fall into my monster category since readability of the time remains a priority—as it is indeed for those wonderful men in their flying machines.
The three limited-edition “from cockpit to the wrist” models—the BR 01 Horizon, BR 01 Altimeter and BR 01 Turn Coordinator—have been recreated in the style of the actual navigational instruments they are named after, with the added impetus of an appealing graphic styling.
The BR Horizon’s styling is based upon an attitude indicator (or artificial horizon) with the lower part of the watch in black representing the earth and the grey representing the sky. A white horizon line on the 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock axis separates the two sections. The hour indices are on a raised dial to ensure clear legibility and the bridge at 12 o’clock, which is evocative of the attitude indicator, conceals the attachment of the hands. The watch is equipped with an ETA 2892 automatic movement and the case has a black PVD steel finish. Water resistant to 100 metres the BR Horizon comes with a black rubber strap and one in a heavy-duty canvas.
The BR Altimeter bears a very strong resemblance to an altimeter. The window at 3 o’clock displaying the date is where normally the atmospheric pressure would be indicated and the typeface used is reminiscent of that on the genuine altimeter. The watch is equipped with an ETA 2896 automatic movement showing hours, minutes, seconds and big date. The size and case details are the same as on the Horizon.
Lastly we have the BR Turn Coordinator, an innovative timepiece that uses ultra-light concentric discs to display the hours and minutes. Each disc weighs thirty times more than a conventional watch hand, thus requiring special materials and techniques to ensure that not only are they not deformed by friction, but also can maintain the power reserve and, therefore, the accuracy of the wristwatch. It is fitted with an ETA 2892 automatic movement and three black concentric discs to indicate the hours, minutes and seconds. I’m not a pilot, in fact I have problems navigating between the drinks cabinet and the chaise longue on the terrace, but I have to admit that when I tried on the BR Turn Coordinator I had the impression that I would be more than capable of navigating through the hordes of families with their dogs and prams along the Champs Elysées in Hall 1 on a Sunday afternoon.
Choosing a watch to illustrate a brand’s participation at BaselWorld is usually easy but sometimes it is problematic. This is one of those difficult times because Maurice Lacroix launched a dozen timepieces each as worthy as the next of inclusion. Consequently, I’m going to dispense with a long eulogistic text and let the illustrations do my job for me.
The choice of watches is subjective, but they more than adequately cover the spectrum of watches that Maurice Lacroix now offer. They are: the Masterpiece Lune Rétrograde, the Masterpiece Roue Carrée Seconde and the Pontos Décentrique GMT. (Continued... Part 3)
Source: Europa Star June - July 2012 Magazine Issue