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4 Statement Timepieces That Redefine the Way We Tell the Time

Cartier Fine Watchmaking Masse Mysterieuse Cortina Watch Featured Image

Digital displays, retrograde hands and Crazy Hours, these ingenious timepieces take the art of horology to the next level and transform the way we read time.

Franck Muller_Cintree Curvex Crazy Hours Pastels Asia Exclusive_Cortina Watch

At the visceral level, timepieces are designed to keep track of time with high precision and to be read effortlessly. With a flick of the wrist and a quick glance, it is an instinctive motion. Although timepieces come in various guises and mechanisms, one thing all seasoned watch appreciators can agree upon is that timepieces have long surpassed their significance as tools for timekeeping (nonetheless, a role they still perform with excellence), timepieces have become statement makers. The choice of timepieces which you choose to wear can present you in a different light. It is thus no surprise that watchmakers strive to innovate, producing singular timepieces that redefine the way we tell the time and a means to stand out.

Cartier Fine Watchmaking Masse Mystérieuse

Cartier_Fine Watchmaking Masse Mystérieuse_Cortina Watch

Limited to 30 pieces, the Cartier Fine Watchmaking Masse Mystérieuse is also offered in gem-set variations

Famous for the iconic mysterious clocks and latterly timepieces, Cartier is a master magician, who captures the imagination. In its Mystery timepieces, critical components, such as the dial and an assortment of wheels, seem to have vanished, leaving behind only hour and minute hands that seemingly exist on their own and propel themselves in vacuum. The beginning of this wondrous speciality can be traced back to a mystery clock created in 1912. Arrayed with levitating hands upon a transparent glass dial, the influential Model A was the progenitor to modern interpretations, including the Astromystérieux Tourbillon and the Rotonde de Cartier Mystery Skeleton.

Emboldened by past successes and going one step further with the Fine Watchmaking Masse Mystérieuse, Cartier looks to have distilled the entire movement into the oscillating weight and a series of skeletonisation, to weave a new mystery into the timepiece. The question: How does the watch wind itself?

The answer lies in its exceptional architecture. Apart from the customary top and bottom sapphire crystals shielding the timepiece from external forces, there are four other sapphire crystal disks that enable the timepiece to function normally. There are rotating disks responsible for each of the hour and minute hands, and for housing the movement, respectively, as well as a fixed disk holding the gear on which the movement rotates. There are also the invisible inner works positioned underneath the minute track that connect the crown to the hands, enabling time to be set. All this works in concert to ensure the hands are always in the right orientation while the movement beneath swivels unrestrainedly to replenish the power reserve.

Attired in a 43.5mm x 12.64mm platinum case, the Cartier Fine Watchmaking Masse Mystérieuse bears an automatic Calibre 9801 MC, with 42 hours of power reserve.

Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex Crazy Hours Pastels Asia Exclusive

Franck Muller_Cintree Curvex Crazy Hours Pastels Asia Exclusive Coral_Cortina Watch

The Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex Crazy Hours Pastels Asia Exclusive is offered in a variety of pastel colours.

Stunning tonneau-shaped cases rooted in sinuous sensuality and intricately crafted movements are the hallmarks of Franck Muller. Pairing these remarkable qualities with one of the most defining features in watchmaking, the Crazy Hours, Franck Muller possesses an absolute icon in its repertoire like no other. It is a timepiece that spellbinds while tastefully eschewing tradition with the unique manner of which time is told.

Striking with immediacy is the seemingly random and unconventional order of which the hourly numerals are arranged on the dial. The composition plays a trick on the common understanding of the passage of time, and the incremental progression from the present to the adjacent hour is profoundly challenged. On the Crazy Hours, the following hour is always a great leap across the dial. For example, on most Crazy Hours references, although 4 o’clock is positioned traditionally, 5 o’clock is transplanted to the customary 9 o’clock position, while 6 o’clock has swapped positions with 2 o’clock. Yet, despite the puzzling remix on the surface, the underlying mechanism is executed with surgical precision and in a logical way.

While plying his trade as a timepiece restorator for auctioneers and collectors, the Maison’s eponymous founder learned that he was capable of much more and that he could develop his own complications. After debuting a string of complex timepieces in the ensuing years, he premiered the first-ever Crazy Hours in 2003 to disrupt the centuries-old order of the classical watch dial. Behind the ingenuity is a recipe invented by Mr Muller. Every hourly increment requires a five-step forward jump from the present numeral to the next. For example, when the hour hand transitions from 1 o’clock to 2 o’clock, it leaps five positions forward, skipping all other numerals in between in an instance to arrive at 2 o’clock. The mechanism is orchestrated the same way for the rest of the hours. Its easily understood presentation is an embodiment of Mr Muller’s experience and passion as a skilled and daring watchmaker.

Furthermore, Franck Muller has always maintained a focus on Asia, releasing limited editions exclusive to the select market from time to time. One of which that centres on the Crazy Hours is the Cintrée Curvex Crazy Hours Pastels Asia Exclusive, available in either rose gold or stainless steel, with four different pastel options of blue, orange, purple and beige. The whimsical indices are hand-painted, as well as to realise the exceptional sheen, the sunburst guilloche dial comprises no fewer than 20 layers of lacquer. Finally, the iconic case is generously set with 66 brilliant-cut diamonds for a touch of luxury.

H. Moser & Cie. Endeavor Perpetual Calendar

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The H. Moser & Cie. Endeavor Perpetual Calendar is available in bevy of case materials and fumé dials

Perpetual calendars often bear a uniformed aesthetic, designed to provide a wealth of information about the year, month, time, date and more in unmistakable legibility. But not H. Moser & Cie.’s. In fact, the brand has gone to great lengths to reduce the Endeavor Perpetual Calendar into a minimalist masterpiece, decoupling it from conventional design philosophies while imbuing it with exceptional finishing. The iconoclastic approach is truly a calling card of H. Moser & Cie., revered by many for going about its business its own way.

The latest edition features a metal rarely used in watchmaking: tantalum. The hardy and lustrous material gives the timepiece an extra edge, further elevating its uniqueness. In addition, the fumé Grand Feu enamel dial lends a touch of colour to bind the reimagined complications with stunning craftsmanship.

The allure of the Endeavor Perpetual Calendar lies in its simplicity. A complicated timepiece made simpler. Although largely bereft of indexes and markers, much of the timepiece functions as expectedly of a perpetual calendar. There are large, leaf-shaped hour and minute hands, small seconds at the bottom half of the dial, a date aperture at 3 o’clock, a power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock, and a central mini hand indicating the month of the year corresponding to the 12 different positions on the dial. Setting the timepiece apart from its contemporaries is the non-existence of leap year, quarterly or yearly indicator. However, the unique wheel inscribed with the yearly cycle is built into the rear of the timepiece.

An exceptional feature of the Endeavor Perpetual Calendar is the fail-safe mechanism. Where conventional perpetual calendars can only be set or wound in a prescribed direction, the date or month of the Endeavor Perpetual Calendar can be set forward or backwards at any time without risking damage to the movement.

Paired with a 42mm case, the H. Moser & Cie. Endeavor Perpetual Calendar features a manual-wound HMC 800 integrated movement, with 168 hours of power reserve. H. Moser & Cie. is exclusive to Cortina Watch.

Bvlgari Divas’ Dream Peacock Marquetry Jumping Hours and Retrograde Minutes

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Apart from the model featuring jumping hours and retrograde minutes, the Bvlgari Divas’ Dream Peacock Marquetry collection is also made in other variations

Massive waves have been made by Bvlgari in the realms of watchmaking in the past decade, as it racks up accolade after accolade upon record-breaking complications in complexity and thinness. They are feathers in Bvlgari’s cap as an outstanding watchmaker, jeweller and tastemaker. Taking the recognition literally, the brand elevates métiers d’art with a fine example of marquetry by using the most appropriate motif for preening: peacocks.

A symbol of prosperity, the peacock has recurred in various art forms and works for millenia. It was also thought to be a metaphor of regality, fertility, immortality and permanence throughout ancient cultures and civilisations. Depicted on the gorgeous dial of this timepiece are a series of inlays brought to life with marquetry, a demanding technique dating back to antiquity and latterly popularised during Renaissance. The dial is replete with peacock feather elements and precious gemstones. Sorting out from hundreds of specimens, each plume is meticulously chosen for its exceptional colour and harmony. It is subsequently passed over an antique brass steam engine to release its natural brilliance, before they are trimmed, cut and assembled to yield the mosaic finish.

The artistic design highlights a poetic marquetry peacock with a tail fan, generously festooned with snow-set diamonds, aventurine and malachite. Aventurine glass, originating from 14th-century Murano, adds to the timepiece’s artisanal value. Furthermore, the crown comprises cabochon-cut tsavorites, while the eye of the peacock is made of emerald.

At the nexus of the timepiece is a digital hour aperture, a jumping hour mechanism amidst the plumage replacing a traditional hour hand, positioned at 12 o’clock. It is complemented with retrograde minutes sweeping across the upper half of the dial, where upon completing the 60-minute progression, the minute hand snaps back to its starting point with urgency, in simultaneity with the hourly numeral springing anew. The latter’s instantenous action underpins the unique working of jumping hours.

Consuming a year in its development, the exquisite timpiece beats the in-house BVL 262 movement, providing 42 hours of power reserve and encased within a 37mm rose gold case.

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