The essence of timekeeping is complex. What began as a functional, utilitarian item that was commonly used to keep track of appointments, remain punctual, and understand the cycle of night and day, quickly transitioned into something much more material. Over the years, the art of watchmaking became just that — an expression of visionary design principles, interactive subtleties, and mechanical prowess. While the medium remains largely devoted to the preservation of its complex heritage, a handful of the genre’s most notable watchmakers have found a way to retain their precise reputation through the pairing of form and function.
It’s true that for many, a functioning timepiece is the most important aspect of ownership. Artisanal watchmakers take pride in their complex movements, cutting-edge technologies, and proprietary systems. But something can be said for the aesthetic of each and every timepiece on the market today. MR PORTER, one of the world’s foremost voices in men’s style, understands that form is sometimes more important, especially in terms of presentation. As such, the team has curated the Watches & Wonders Collection — a series of the industry’s most notable designers and models — just in time for the impending holiday season. Below, we’ve decided to pick out a few of our favorites and give you some insight into the watches (and designers) that are worth your hard-earned money.
What Is Watches & Wonders?
Watches & Wonders is an annual gathering of the world’s foremost watchmakers. Each year, prestigious companies make their way to an established venue for a series of enlightening workshops, talks, and introductions — outlining premiere timekeeping models, and shedding light on those that are still in development. This year, A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Piaget, Hermès, Montblanc, Roger Dubuis, and Vacheron Constantin are in attendance — albeit digitally, due to the coronavirus pandemic. As such, the renowned luxury menswear provider, MR PORTER, has offered up their own digital space to show off the most prominent watches from this year’s event. Check out a few of the amazing offerings below.
Baume & Mercier Capeland Automatic Chronograph
Baume & Mercier’s Capeland Automatic Chronograph is a stainless-steel staple that provides wearers with a clean, tailored look, while also dipping its toes into the sleek, race-inspired realm. It takes on a beautifully-realized stainless steel exterior that complements its tasteful black dial, Super-LumiNova-coated hands, and indices, keeping it legible at all hours of the day. At its heart, a precise automatic caliber ETA 2894-2 movement remains visible through the watch’s see-through case back. To round things out, a dash of orange can be found on the Capeland’s dial, as well as its textured leather strap.
Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Automatic
Montblanc’s 1858 Geosphere was crafted in celebration of the Seven Summit challenge — a mountaineering adventure that’s been lauded as one of the world’s most highly-regarded trials. Inspired by the spirit of the feat (and its participants), Montblanc has created the ultimate timepiece for those with the expeditionary spirit, thanks to the 1858’s titanium case, Storm Blue bezel, manually-wound crown, and Super-LumiNova-coated hour and minute hands. A precise caliber MB 29.25 automatic movement sits at the center of it all, complementing the most notable piece of the watch’s awe-inspiring design — a pair of domed, rotating globes that feature a 24-hour scale and day/night indicator.
IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser
The Portugieser is one of IWC Schaffhausen’s most prominent models, so when we saw that MR PORTER’s Watches & Wonders collection would include an automatic, 40.4mm stainless steel variant, we could hardly contain our excitement. This tasteful watch harkens back to the brand’s original models, which have been in circulation since the early 1930s. A calibre 82200 automatic movement makes its appearance within the Portugieser’s sleek stainless steel case, which houses a clean white dial, navy numerals, and indices, and a railway-track-style chapter ring. To round things out, a transparent case back offers an interesting look at the icon’s internal functions.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar Automatic
Jaeger- LeCoultre’s Master Control Calendar Automatic is an iconic piece of wristwear that dates all the way back to the 1940s, where it enamored watch collectors in every niche of the industry. Fast forward to 2013, and the watch would be reintroduced as a “Master” edition within the manufacturer’s prominent catalog. Today, the watch joins MR PORTER’s collection with the same moon phase sub-dial, day/month window, and date hand as its predecessors, pairing seamlessly with the brand’s in-house calibre 866/1 automatic movement. Behind its sapphire glass crystal, a set of stainless steel dauphine hands, indices, and numerals make their debut, complementing the watch’s silver sunray dial.
Panerai Luminor Marina Automatic
If you’re acquainted with Panerai, you’ll know that the brand’s “Luminor” line is the butter to its Italian loaf. Now, when you add a hearty helping of Carbotech into the equation, things become even more noteworthy. The brand’s Marina Automatic does just that. A set of high-visibility numerals and markers debut alongside the watch’s shadowy Sandwich dial, complementing the Marina’s specialized P.9010 calibre movement, water-resistant Sportech strap, and blue accent stitching. To keep everything housed within a sleek, awe-inspiring closure, Panerai has called upon a black Carbotech case, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and a protective screw-in crown for more intuitive time adjustment.
Piaget Altiplano Hand-Wound
Piaget’s Altiplano is the epitome of necessity. Simplicity reigns supreme here, thanks to the small but substantial 18-karat rose gold case, manually-wound crown, and midnight-blue alligator strap. But what makes the Altiplano so special is its ultra-thin stature, which somehow finds a way to encompass the watch’s 430P hand-wound movement at just 6mm in height. Regardless, the sleek and slim wonder is a testament to tastefulness, and since it’s only available in a limited quantity of 300, you’ll have to test your luck during the acquisition process.
Ulysee Nardin Freak X Ti Automatic
With a name like the Freak X Ti, Ulysee Nardin’s automatic wonder is bound to receive some interesting press. But when it comes to complex sophistication, we’re sure that there are few outfits that can match the company’s lightweight wristwear staple. This sharp model features an undeniably unique internal architecture, neglecting the inclusion of hands (and dial) to create a watch that relies solely on its movement to illustrate the time. Below the Freak’s sapphire crystal window, a gear train and escapement serve as the primary pieces for articulate timekeeping, complementing its UN-230 automatic movement. An Openwork dial has been treated with SuperLumiNova hands and indices, while the piece’s black titanium DLC case and exhibition case back provide staggering views of its internal structure.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time Automatic
As one of the more traditional watches on our list, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time Automatic fulfills a very standard niche. It’s not flashy, overly ambitious, or outlandish, opting instead for a simplified design that’s perfect for the distinguished collector. Each example features a polished stainless steel case, a black dial/date tracker, and an accurate calibre 5110 DT automatic movement, providing legibility at any hour of the day, thanks to its luminescent hands and indices. To round things out, a manually-wound crown and clasp-fastened stainless steel bracelet add to the watch’s luxurious appeal.
What’s The Difference: Quartz Vs. Mechanical Watch Movements
One of the most integral parts of picking out the right timepiece for you is deciding on the appropriate movement. We put two of the most important, significant, and widely available up against one another in our quartz vs. mechanical watch movements guide, where you can learn all you need to know.