The advent of the smartphone is slowly making watches and clocks obsolete, which is a crying shame because these both have a long and rich legacy of beautiful decoration and artistic craftsmanship. These watches, whether homages to the grand-master clock makers of old or innovative new designs for the modern era, seek to keep our love of watches and timepieces alive.
One of the most enchanting things about watch design, especially when talking about mechanical watches, is the scale at which everything happens. Not only are these designs absolutely beautiful, they are all also constrained to a tiny disk strapped to your wrist. And yet, despite this limitation, there are round tables surrounded by knights, whirling planets, beautiful birds and poetic fairy-tales. Many of the world’s greatest watchmakers also no longer limit themselves to simply documenting a 24-hour day, either. Weeks, months, and the time in other cities around the world can all be monitored, and even the moon’s phases and the movement of celestial bodies. You name it and they'll have it made especially for you.
On the other hand, digital watches have opened up a new world of opportunities for watchmakers that just weren’t available before. Sleek modern designs, lights, and the lack of moving parts are just a few of the basic hallmarks of the digital watches on this list. The lack of moving parts especially allows digital watchmakers to move in new directions – their faces can display information in totally new ways, and they can be made flexible or even see-through.
Midnight Planétarium is a luxuriuos masterpiece of science and design – a watch that shows 6 planets from the Solar system rotating around the Sun in their actual pace. The creation of this spectacular device took 3 whole years of work and 396 separate pieces – which is why it costs $245,000.
The planets are represented with tiny precious and semiprecous stones: Mercury (serpentine), Venus (chloromelanite), Earth (turquoise), Mars (red jasper), Jupiter (blue agate), and Saturn (sugilite). 2 planets from the Solar System were not included given the pace of their rotation around the Sun pace, which would hardly be noticeable within a human lifetime: it takes over 84 years for Uranus and 164 years for Neptune to complete full revolutions!
This astonishing piece was presented to the public this month at the annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva by Van Cleef & Arpels in partnership with Dutch watchmaker Christiaan van der Klaauw.
Eye of the Storm:
Eye of the Storm is a unique watch design. A watch without a clock face. I must agree with the designer that reading the time on a watch doesn’t actually require the center part. We only need to know where the clock’s hands are pointing. In this watch, the time is illuminated on the black outer frame only when a button is pressed; otherwise, the watch is completely blank.
This watch design was inspired by the eye of the storm. We know that a storm can be very violent, a destructive natural
catastrophe. But the center of a swirling storm is a core of calm and quiet, a void. The time moves around the void. Eye of the storm watch design is also good news for many people who are sensitive to the metal parts of watches.
Salvador Dalí’s Persistence of Memory-Inspired Melted Wristwatch
A while back we featured the Chrome Trimmed Hanging Melted Clock, a nice home time piece inspired from Salvador Dali‘s “Persistence of Memory“. Now, we’re back with a wristwatch version of the same art piece.
The Melted Wristwatch is a chrome analog watch powered by quartz precision movement, features a black rubber band, a melted shape case and roman numerals dials.
ZIIIRO Mercury Watch
Ziiiro had this idea to create watches without any hands or numbered faces, the result are some of the coolest designs on the market. Using colors, orbiting planetary imagery and swirls, these watches will cause a double take every time.The Ziiiro Mercury tells the time in a really cool way.
The tip of the inner ring represents the hour and the outer ring the minutes. They swirl in opposite directions, creating a visual unsurpassed by any other timepiece. The bracelet is stainless mesh, forming a flexible yet durable band.
With the new season of HBO’s medieval fantasy drama “Game of Thrones” upon us, it seems an appropriate time to highlight a timepiece from Roger Dubuis‘s new Excalibur collection, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Round Table, a limited-edition model distinguished by its 12 sculptural “knights” stationed at each hour marker.
The Ora Unica Watch
At first glance, you might be confused as to how to tell time on the Ora Unica, but it’s actually quite simple. Just look at the position of the inner end of the squiggle for the current hour, and the outer end for minutes. Simple, elegant, and truly unique.
Bird Repeater Watch
In an attempt to connect the contemporary Jaquet Droz with the past, classic Swiss manufacturer of wristwatches, whose history dates back to 1738, the fabled brand has recently presented a brand new automata-based repeater watch, dubbed as the Bird Repeater.
The research and development processes have taken several years, but the outcome is a genuine piece of artwork. The limited edition Bird Repeater will be available in two versions, red gold and grey gold set with diamonds. The specialists behind Jaquet Droz have drawn inspiration from the 18th century, when bird automatons used to be En Vogue.
Earth And Moon Watch
Time can be calculated according to the position of the moon in the dial.
Dragon Gate Legend Watch
The Dragon Gate Legend has a 49 mm red gold case and is equiped with a Calibre AS 690, a movement Cornelius & Cie use in their Chronosome XY46 collection. These movements are developed and produced by the A. Schild company in Grenchen, Switzerland, in 1935. The movement beats at steady/classic frequency of 18.000 bph. (beats
per hour). When the strong main spring is fully wound, the movement has a power reserve of 8 days! Other watches with such power reserve have two (or sometimes three) coupled mainspring barrels. The large and very strong main spring is inside an eccentrically positioned barrel, which is immediately evident by the shape of the case between the 5 and 6 o’clock position.
SOH – A Second Of Happiness Watch
The "Second of Happiness" (SoH) watch is currently just a concept, but it certainly could be made. It is the charming and clever brainchild of 21 year old French design student Mathilde Ampe. Ironically enough, the watch does not display the seconds. According to Mathilde, this is also her very first watch design.
The SoH watch is meant to look like a face. Not just a watch face, but a more human-like face. The focal point of the design are two rotating discs that are meant to look like eyes, and the pupils are the indicators. The left eye disc indicates the hours and the right disc is for the minutes. Does that make it hard to tell the time? A bit.
Time Traveller allows you to see the time all over the world. The watch uses 16 landmark buildings to mark the time in different regions. You can read the local time by looking at the landmark building in your city or time-zone: for example if you're in London then you use Big Ben as your hour hand; in Paris you look to the Eiffel Tower or in New York you use the Statue of Liberty. A pigeon, the universal city dweller marks the minutes.
Wingt Mille Watch
The Two Men Being Held By The Squid Indicate The Hours And Minutes.
Digital Destruction Watch
Time marches on. The old must make way for the new, but sometimes it does not go willingly as with the Digital Destruction Watch. Set in an analog body, the traditional mechanical dial seems to have shattered to make way for the digital LCD screen. The “crown” is actually a button that switches between time, second, and date modes, as well as activate the back-light.
The Bradley watch, which displays the time via a ball bearing that moves around the face, has also emerged as a frontrunner for the Design of the Year 2014 award, organised by the Design Museum in London.
Black Cobra or UR-CC1 AlTiN is made from grey gold case tranformed into black, to further emphasized on black character and black heart. Designed in limited edition of only 25 pieces. Hold on the “Black Cobra” face and you will see two unusual indications: jumping hours and retrograde minutes. UR-CC1 AlTiN designed with Bright yellow glowing
from black anthracite is the only luminous evidence emmetting from this reptilian machine. The hours and minutes count down the time by moving linearly.