Luxury Watches in The Movies

leonardo dicaprioLuxury watches are typically seen as very closed-doors, esoteric items that are known only to a rich and knowledgeable few. That’s not really true, especially once you consider all the times that a designer watch has appeared on the silver screen. Expensive wristwatches might not exactly stir the same interest as the lead characters, but they’re still celebrities in their own right.

It’s All in the Wrist

Countless contemporary movies are just full of these premium timepieces, and there are even a number of groups that like to keep tabs on all of them. 2008 blockbuster Street Kings, for example, featured star Keanu Reeves wearing a Rolex GMT II quite prominently in the movie poster. Blood Diamond, another big movie from the same year, showed lead Leonardo DiCaprio with a Breitling Chrono Avenger.

hollywood-hearts-horology-2Other notable silver screen watches include

  • George Clooney spotted with a Luminox watch in Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
  • 007 agent James Bond (played by Daniel Craig), who wore an Omega Seamaster to the opening scene of Casino Royale (2006)
  • Ben Affleck, who fought crime as the title character in Daredevil (2003) wearing red tights and a Hamilton Linwood Daredevil Automatic
  • An Omega Speedster watch worn by Tom Cruise as Chief John Anderton in the futuristic Minority Report (2002)

A Long History

This whole trend of wearing expensive premium timepieces, however, is hardly a new thing in Hollywood. In fact, it’s been a recurring theme in the James Bond movies, one of the oldest establishments of the silver screen. Through the years, exclusive watches have topbilled in movies like

  • Dr. No (1962), where James Bond (played by Sean Connery) used a Rolex Submariner to test a Geiger counter
  • Goldfinger (1964), where Sean Connery reprised his role wearing the same watch from Dr. No
  • The Predator (1987), where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch wore a Seiko H558-5000
  • The Abyss (1989), where Ed Harris wore a Seiko 6309-7049 as Bud Brigman

If you have a free afternoon, try going through your DVD collection and checking through the blockbusters for any watches you didn’t spot before. You never know, your favorite actor might just wear the very same watch that you do.

3 Luxury Watches That make a Simple Statement

You’ve probably noticed by now that a lot of contemporary luxury watches are getting more and more, well, everything. One model will look edgier or more garish than the next, while another will claim to have the most number of complications yet.

But there are those times when all you want is a simple and straightforward watch that will tell you the time, period. While the heyday of those watches is long gone, some haute horlogerie houses still make models of a similar aesthetic. Here are three watches that definitely go for that subtle and understated message you’d want from time to time.

The fact that it’s a manual-winding watch only adds to the old-world allure of the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionelle 38mm watch. A couple of years after the first release of the Patrimony line, top horology house Vacheron Constantin adds – update would be the wrong word – to the collection with this manual mechanism piece.

Its design is beautiful in its sheer simplicity. A plain vanilla round rose gold case holds a slightly off white dial with baton indices and just a single no-numeral subdial at 6 o’clock. It’s symmetrical, straightforward and positively stunning.

Of a similar streak is the Piaget Altiplano collection, a series of watches that features a simple, slim white gold case and a plain dial with no markings other than the indices and the brand at 12 o’clock. Long, thin batons are used for the hour indices, and the hands are uncomplicated needle-like affairs. Measuring just 2.1mm thick, the Altiplano watches are very unobtrusive and can go with any outfit, event or occasion.

Yet even with its impossibly thin frame, each one of the Altiplano watches is equipped with a top-of-the-line Calibre 430P, created by Piaget’s team of master watchmakers. Behind the simplicity lies power and engineering born from over a century of haute horlogerie.

Timepieces like the ones in the Patrimony and the Altiplano collections are not common anymore, especially nowadays where there’s some one-upmanship between the houses in terms of features, complications and design. However, it’s still refreshing to know that, should you ever need this kind of simplicity, some of the best names are still willing to deliver.

The Tough Glashütte Tourbillon Watch

Glashütte Tourbillon WatchOne common complaint about luxury watches is that they’re often too delicate to be used for the turns and tumbles of everyday life. Unless you go to a formal party everyday, you’re not likely to wear your best watch when you go out or do day-to-day errands.

Until now, that is.

Premium watchmaker Glashütte Original has just released a new watch that is, surprising as it might sound, sportier than even the Saxon company’s usual standards. The Sport Evolution Impact Tourbillon and Sport Evolution Impact Chronograph promise to be be-all, end-all watches for withstanding most bumps and bruises that real life can throw at them.

If its red and black contrast synthetic strap didn’t clue you in, the durable case made of polished and satinised stainless steel should tell you that this watch was designed to go wherever you do. Yet while Glashütte Original took every precaution to protect the watch from damage, it definitely didn’t do so at the expense of timekeeping precision.

To make this new and near-indestructible watch, Glashütte Original teamed up with Stuttgart-based Fraunhofer development group, which in turn designed a combination of materials that would give optimum cushioning to the most delicate watch components. Consequently, the Calibre 39-31 – the movement running the Sport Evolution Impact Chronograph – remains accurate even when it experiences great amounts of force.

Meanwhile, the Sport Evolution Impact Tourbillon is powered by an automatic Calibre 94, which also keeps the Flying Tourbillon running at the 6 o’clock position on the dial. It has a regular rate of revolution (360 degrees per minute) that keeps the watch precise and on time, even when a different state of gravity has already begun screwing up other timepieces.

Two watches made to be truly durable by a company with a long heritage in the art and science of watchmaking. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better combination of form, function and all-around raw toughness.

Girard-Perregaux 2009 – What a Haul

Girard Perregaux 1The Girard-Perregaux watchmaking house is known as one of the best and oldest in the industry. And while we definitely expect quality from this prestigious brand, we don’t really expect them to deliver excellence en masse. For Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2009, they delivered not just 1 but eighteen new pieces to the watch-loving public. Here’s a quick peek at some of them.

The Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges, Perpetual Calendar and Chronograph hearken back to the original Tourbillon Sous Trois Ponts d’Or design by Constant Girard himself. This design was so accurate that it

  • Was a winner at the 1889 universal exhibition in Paris
  • Won accuracy competitions for 12 straight years, which got it banned by 1901
  • Carried the Girard-Perregaux brand into the 20th century

Girard-Perregaux 2A little more contemporary is the Monte-Carlo Historic Rally, a collection of watches that commemorates the ever-popular race from the French Alps to the Riviera. This collection is comprised of the Rally Monte-Carlo 1973 and the Rally Monte-Carlo 1983.

  • The 1973 edition has watches with and without a tachymeter. Both versions, however, have fly-back timers.
  • The 1983 edition has a 24-hour indicator, an inner revolving bezel and an option for a steel bracelet instead of a leather strap.
  • Both editions are limited to just 250 numbered pieces per release.

Much is in store for the ladies as well. The Cat’s Eye Annual and Zodiac Calendars combines the complexity of two calendars and the allure of a Cat’s Eye dial. This oblong watch is fit only for the most elegant of ladies.Girard-Perregaux 3

  • It has 68 or 315 diamonds set into the case, 40 jewels in the movement and an onyx set into the crown.
  • Bracelets are available in white or pink gold, while straps can be had in fine satin.
  • The mechanism for the moon phases is so accurate that correction is only required once in about 292 years.

2009 seems to be a year for Girard-Perregaux to bring itself back into the public eye as a maker of extremely accurate premium watches. Even in these tough economic times, now might just be a good time to get yourself one.

Time to Be Grand: New Watches from Jaeger-LeCoultre

Jaeger-LeCoultre Time To Be GrandIn the world of premium watches, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie is the gathering of the best and the most prestigious. Major horology house Jaeger-LeCoultre marks the first SIHH after their 175th anniversary in 2008 with watches and designs that bring something really new and fresh to the industry. The Master Grande Tradition upholds the tradition of fine watchmaking that the company has preserved, while at the same time exploring new ground in timekeeping technology.

The novelties in the Master Grande Tradition are few, but each one is nothing short of monumental. First of the two innovations is the world’s first minute repeater that features a regulator display. The second novelty is the first ever perpetual calendar tourbillon. These new inventions just go to show how Jaeger-LeCoultre truly deserves its status as one of the best and most highly esteemed watch brands in the world.

This new creation has quite a number of complications going on under its face. Some of the Master Grande Tradition’s complications include:

  • a perpetual calendar
  • a digital display for the month, day of the week, date, phase of the moon, the year and the century
  • an indicator for AM/PM

Despite all the luxurious and beautiful trappings of the Master Grande Tradition, it hides some serious brawn and feats of engineering under that elegant face. An escapement made of diamond-coated silicium minimizes the friction that goes on between all the 401 components that were finished by hand. But even with all those features in there, the watch is far from bulky. The tourbillon, for example, weighs less than a third of a gram.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that a watch like this one is immensely valuable. If you ever happen to come face to face with a price tag for the Master Grande Tourbillon, just remember that it has:

  • a limited release of just 300 pieces (for the yellow gold version, at least)
  • a strap made from crocodile leather and a buckle closure of either platinum or gold
  • some of the newest technologies in the watchmaking industry to date.

The Valuable Vacheron Constantin Kallania Watch

The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie assembles some of the most prestigious and exclusive watchmakers on the planet. Because of its attendance that boasts names like Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, the event is bursting full with pricy timepieces. So when one particular watch rises above the crowd because of its price tag, you know it’s really expensive. This year, that honor belongs to the Vacheron Constantin Kallania.

With its price at an affordable 5 million euros (about $6.45 million), it goes beyond the watch industry’s usual definition of expensive. The high prices of watches, however, don’t often come without good reason. In the case of the Kallania, the profusion of zeros on the price tag comes from the 186 diamonds emerald-cut diamonds weighing in at a whopping 170 carats all in all. That’s 34 grams of diamond right there.

But one really cannot wonder why Vacheron Constantin bothered to create such a conspicuously luxurious watch. It is, after all, the same company that spent 6,000 hours (all clocked in by master craftsmen) in 1979 to create, nay, sculpt a watch from a single gold ingot. That same watch – the Kallista – was then set with a total of 130 carats’ worth of diamonds. The Kallania, then, is a sequel in the grand plan of a director that specializes in premium watches instead of motion pictures.

Just because it’s a veritable jewelry piece doesn’t mean that the Kallania is without its own merits with respect to horology. It’s outfitted with the 1003 Caliber, the thinnest mechanical caliber not just for Vacheron Constaintin but in the whole world so far. It’s perhaps only appropriate that such a record-breaking watch be paired with a mechanism that’s just as noteworthy as the watch itself.

Yes, the cost of the Kallania sounds more like a national debt than a price for a watch. It is, however, the kind of item that you just talk or dream about and not really buy (unless you’ve got several million dollars to spare). This is one timepiece that’s for the record books and the record books alone.

Ralph Lauren Watches: Designers in Horology

ralph_lauren_watches_1High fashion and premium watches are both areas reserved and roped off only for the moneyed and the elite. Consequently, it’s no wonder that the two industries would merge every now and then, resulting in the creation of something truly special. That was the case when American designer brand Ralph Lauren unveiled not one but three collections of designer watches at the 2009 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in January.

Now, followers of the fashion scene would know that Ralph Lauren – both the brand and the designer himself – is no stranger to premium items. But the watch market is full of entrepreneurs and people very particular about technical details. That’s probably why the clothing brand teamed up with Richemont, the group of companies that includes some of the watch industry’s most prestigious names like Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre to help with the horology side of the business.

The new partnership resulted in the Polo Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewellery Company (SARL), under which the new collections of Ralph Lauren-branded watches were released. With a combination like that, it’s no wonder that the new timepieces turned out the way they did. A total of three collections were released at the 2009 SIHH: the Stirrup, the Slim Classique and the Sporting lines.

Ralph Lauren 2So named for its equestrian equipment shape, the Stirrup line captures a true feel of Ralph Lauren, its American heritage and its close ties with the equestrian image. Luxury is obviously one of the main goals of this collection as it’s available either in 18-karat gold or platinum. Three sizes are available in this collection, and each size has its movements made by a different Manufacture. Small Stirrup watches, for example, use Piaget movements while larger units have Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Exclusivity is the key concept behind the Slim Classique collection, and it’s not just because the extremely thin movements housed in gold or platinum come from Piaget. Both dials are guilloched on a special machine that can only churn out two such dials everyday, and even the face has to go through the same process. With price tags ranging from $16,000 to $36,000, don’t expect too many other people to start wearing this on the street.

Cheapest among the three is the Sporting collection with prices ranging from just $9,000 to just over $11,000. Featuring a sub-timer, world clock or chronograph, the Sporting collection is a good mix of design, engineering and functionality. And with movements from IWC Jones, the performance you get will surely be worth the money.

Baume Mercier: Horology at the Hamptons

millenaryDespite its proximity to the bustling metropolis that is New York, the Hamptons is an area that prides itself on being elegantly laid back. As a playground for the elite of the East Coast, it’s a place that’s frequented by people who could definitely afford to take it slow and easy. That’s the kind of spirit that Baume & Mercier tried to capture with its Hampton collection, which debuted at the Salon International de la Haute Horologie (SIHH) 2009.

The Hampton collection itself made quite a statement, even for a designer watch, in the first few years after its birth in 1994. Its original rectangular case in steel was nothing short of revolutionary for the watchmaking industry and, for its 15th birthday, a whole new line of three Baume & Mercier watches was released to build on this groundbreaking aesthetic.
Most faithful to the original design is the Hampton Classic which combines the initial shape with more modern contours. It comes in several different flavors for men and women ranging from an open balance watch to a chronograph and even to designs with diamond-set bezels. But though only the finest materials were used in the production of these watches, the effort to remain classic and elegant is clearly visible.

The Hampton Manchette, meanwhile, is a little less classic and a lot more feminine. Its contemporary art shape gives one the impression that the design is strictly for the modern, more powerful woman who – as the diamonds on the bezel suggest – loves her luxury.

Hampton MagnumWeekend warriors will love the Hampton Magnum which gives an image that’s a little more casual but no less refined. The Magnum XXL for men looks rugged and powerful with the color combination provided by the black steel and red gold, while the alligator strap gives the idea of the tough outdoorsman. Ladies, meanwhile, will be attracted to the diamond-set bezel of the Magnum XL, which strikes a stark contrast against its tough-as-nails strap made of vulcanized rubber.

If there’s anything that the Hampton collection has in abundance (aside from diamonds and precious metals, of course), it’s personality. Each one of these luxury watches makes a clear yet careful statement about the person seen in it – just like the real Hamptons.

What to look for when buying a luxury watch.

You should always look for a good deal, then you should always look for a good vendor. When you buy your first luxury watch, you will be happy. Buying from a good vendor will make you even happier!