Last week, our selection of 5 Cool Finds was clearly on the safe-side; 5 ultra-essential dive watches from mainstream brands, the kind of watches you can never go wrong with. This week, in our new episode of the Cool Finds, we’re going to explore completely different territories: the super-complicated watches. You want gold; we have. You want high-end brands; we have too. You want complications; oh yes we have. You want the kind of watches that reflect your tastes and your love for haute-horlogerie, we definitely have that. You want understated though, yes that’s what you’ll get. Together with our partner Chronext, here are 5 complex and super-luxurious watches that will make you feel like Gatsby – or simply fulfill your need of being the man that knows a lot about watches.
If you listen to long-time collectors, they will tell you that once you’ve started, it’s hard to stop. After collecting on the safe-side, you might however want to grow as a watch-nerd and once in your life, you’ll certainly have this itch for a complex, luxurious and more demonstrative watch – you know, the kind of watch that can properly create a conversation, the kind of watch that has the feature that no one else have… However, you’re reading Monochrome here, and as usual, what we’ll show you must have a certain understatement. We want high-end, we want superior brands, we want complications, but we also want elegance and distinction. And with this week’s 5 Cool Finds, that’s exactly what you’ll get.
The German icon, the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1
If there’s one watch that must define German watchmaking, it has to be this one. The Lange 1 is a young icon, as only introduced in 1994 – as part of the first collection introduced when A. Lange & Söhne was relaunched – but still, it has gained an incredible status amongst the watch community. And for good reasons! The Lange 1 has all: the beauty, the originality, the proportions, the finishing, the technical superiority, the restrained look, the perfect size… Try to find a fault in this watch is simply a nightmare. The Lange 1 is superb, we love it, it will be loved by most of the collectors. Period.
For all these reasons, we had to have one in our selection of complicated watches. The A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 we chose is the White Gold edition. Why? Simply because it is even more restrained than the other editions (yellow gold, rose gold or platinum) and even easier to wear on a daily basis – and just a bit more casual, thanks to the luminous hands and indexes. The display makes the complication here, but it also gives this unique look to the watch. What some will find slightly messy is in fact a proper treaty of proportions and a design masterclass. The entire watch is designed regarding the golden ratio, and that’s why it so desirable. And at 38.5mm, it will fit every wrist and every situation. The present example comes with original box and is offered for 21,990 Euros (10k below the current edition). Listed here.
The historical reference, the Breguet Tourbillon 3350
The tourbillon, that small, hyper-desirable and oh-so-complex device that counteracts the effect of gravity, was invented on 7 Messidor an IX (yes, French old-school dates… which means in human language June 26th, 1801). And by whom, you may say? By master-watchmaker Abraham Louis-Breguet. Thus, if you have to have one tourbillon in your life, it has to be one from Breguet. And guess what, we have one for you today, a sumptuous one in fact: classical, elegant, dressed, superbly finished, timeless, complex. And for a price that is way below your expectations.
This Breguet Tourbillon 350 we have today has it all: a large tourbillon placed in a recessed aperture at 6, a movement entirely hand-engraved and gilded (even the back side is fully engraved), a large bridge on the front with superb execution and all the signature elements of a Breguet: a hand-guilloche dial, a pink gold fluted case, the blued hollowed lugs… Classical and perfectly refined. And it comes in a small 36mm case. Haute horlogerie at its maximum elegance. Now, if we talk money, this watch is offered for 42,900 Euros, which is a lot, obviously. However, when you consider the tourbillon, the finishing of the movement and the brand which manufactured it, it is almost a bargain. A real connoisseur’s piece. Listed here.
The chiming beauty, the IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater Limited
This watch is all about understatement. Yes it is an IWC Portuguese, yes it is large at 42mm and yes, it is made in yellow gold. However, if you don’t pay a closer attention to it, that’s all you’ll notice. Then, insiders will notice two very interesting elements. The first one is the dial, with the old-school IWC logo – it still retains the “International Watch Co” name – and a small second placed at 9 – and not at 6 like in the actual manual-wound Portuguese. This should already give you an indication on the fact that this watch is far from being the usual suspect. Then, there’s the trigger in the caseband at 9. And that’s the real deal here, as under its subtle and discreet elegance, this watch is in fact a Portuguese Minute Repeater Limited Edition.
What you’ll have here is certainly one of the most desirable complications in watchmaking, a watch that is able to chime the time on demand. And on the contrary of the actual Portuguese Minute Repeater and its modern movement, this limited edition of 250 pieces has a vintage-inspired movement, with pocket-watch look: the superb, large, beautifully designed and finished caliber 952. Last detail: a plexiglas crystal on top, just to enhance the vintage look. Overall, this is a very special limited edition and certainly one of the best combination possible for a high-end Portuguese. Then again, it requires serious pockets – 39,900 Euros – but considering the complication and the limitation, it is quite an interesting deal (less than half the price of a new one). Listed here.
A complex simplicity, the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar 5146J
Now we enter the very exclusive world of the old Geneva-based Maisons, with no less than Patek Philippe. And here, we’re not going to show you a sporty Nautilus or a simple 3-hand Calatrava, but something much more complicated and certainly one of the cleverest inventions of Patek: the annual calendar. While it is known that PP can create very precise perpetual calendars, these watches are also famous for their hefty prices. On the other side of the collection, there was the simple date-watches. In 1996, Patek invented the intermediate complication, much more practical and complex than a normal date, but also easier and more accessible than the perpetual calendar. Indeed, while a QP takes into account all the calendar variations including the leap years, an annual calendar is slightly easier to conceive but still, it takes into account the months with 30 or 31 days, meaning that it will only require 1 adjustment a year, at the end of February.
The dial of the present Patek Philippe Annual Calendar 5146J is rather complex and at the same time extremely balanced, with a date at 6, the day of the week and the month sub-dials, a moonphase indication and a power reserve gauge. To be frank, that’s already what we can call a complicated watch. The best comes from the combination of the present example; a warm slate grey dial in a 39mm yellow gold case. Just stunning, not too classical and still extremely elegant. The price required is in line with the beauty of this watch: 26,500 Euros. Listed here (box and papers included).
The ultimate Rollie, the Rolex Sky-Dweller
When thinking Rolex, we easily figure out a watch that is super-precise, super-reliable, super-solid and perfectly manufactured. However, what you don’t expect from Rolex is complications. Indeed, the best you can have is a date, a GMT function, a day-and-date or a chronograph. Well, it was until 2012, when Rolex launched the Sky-Dweller, their most complex watch to date. Under its simple appearance and its resemblance with other watches from the brand (fluted bezel, date magnifier, applied Roman numerals) hides a watch that is both complicated, extremely clever and easy to use. The “Sky” is Rolex at its best.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller combines a dual-time function and an annual calendar, perfectly integrated on the dial. The only thing you can see is the date and small windows next to the hours, to indicate the month (12 hours, 12 months… simple as that). The best comes from the ease of use, as all the settings are done by the rotating bezel (one position for the time, one for the calendar, one for the second time-zone). The present example here is a traditional yellow gold / champagne dial combination, on leather strap for a more subtle look. And even if you’re wearing a Rolex, this is clearly not the one you’ll see everyday. Listed here for 27,710 Euros (box, papers, warranty).
Chronext is a London-based online marketplace for buying, selling, and servicing of luxury watches – and here, online goes together with the same security and service as any high-end boutique (for more details – and the possibility to win a 2016 Rolex Explorer – please look here). For more watches for sale, keep an eye on Chronext. Everyday, some new items are listed.