I might not be going out on a limb here, by saying that nowadays people seem more focused on what lies ahead of them then what lies behind them. Always looking for the next new thing, the latest thrills, newest fashion items, or the latest technical gizmos.
Although we cannot live without progress I sometimes feel that the history of this astonishing, intriguing planet we live and rely on is being more and more ignored. Luckily there are still people and companies around that stay true to traditions, history and craftsmanship and commemorate that what lies behind us. This being the case, can I bridge a gap between these two opposing standpoints? Can I go from innovation versus tradition to innovation involving tradition?
The inspiration for this article came from the Romain Jerome Liberty-DNA. It made me think about the simple fact that it incorporates century old copper, in a brand spanking new timepiece. It seems to combine a part of history with the present, by commemorating a historical icon with modern day techniques.
Two manufacturers that I consider to be operating on the forefront of the very essence of the brands are HD3 and Lang & Heyne. These might be very opposite, but in a way they strike a unique resemblance. We have the ultra-modern and futuristic HD3 and then we have the ultra-traditional and contemporary Lang & Heyne. You might wonder why I cover these timepieces in the same article, but bear with me; I think I’m on to something here.
The HD3 Slyde is the current pinnacle of innovation if you ask me, trying to blend traditional techniques and functions in a futuristic digital watch. Normally, if you can call them normal, HD3 is about very high-end watches overflowing with yaw dropping complications. The Slyde however, is very different from previous HD3 models. A totally digital watch clearly meant to push the limits of the watch industry. The Slyde comes in at a hefty 48 by 58 millimeter and measures 17 mm in thickness, a pretty sizeable tech-toy for the wrist. The curved case is available in a wide variety of materials, steel, titanium, PVD-coated, rose gold and even covered in diamonds. It comes on a rubber or leather strap, together with a push-piece operated folding clasp for a comfortable fit.
Inside this big block of modernism houses a digital movement, full of customizable content. When you find yourself to be the owner of this impressive timepiece, you can alter it to your personal desires. The display is divided into a vertical and a horizontal playing field. On the vertical axis, you can choose any of the seven traditional complications: time, date, time zones, calendar, moon phase, chronometer, and countdown timer. Each of these seven functions is done in a very technical style and is selected by a simple tap on the screen. On the horizontal axis you can see the time elapsed since that iconic concert you might have been to, or the countdown of time towards your birthday party displaying your favorite pictures.
But what if your preferences are slightly different? What if you have a knack for traditional and classical timepieces, so you want something from the other end of the scale? Well, I might be able to introduce you too something that fits your bill. Feast your eyes on the gorgeous Lang & Heyne movement, dubbed the “Caliber I”… for Ivory.
Lang & Heyne is a watchmaker that seems to despise anything that has to do with fancy-schmancy technology or materials. The company goes to great lengths to avoid any computerized machining or assembly and relies solely on the qualities of traditional craftsmanship. The contrast with the HD3 stretches even further than just traditional techniques. Lang & Heyne has developed the “Caliber I” in house, using a truly ancient resource.
Now I know it isn’t a first in the watch industry, it was a first to me for being used in a movement. The ivory comes from a mammoth-tusk found in permafrost soil, in the Russian arctic tundra. Permanently frozen, this soil acts as a natural preserver thus ensuring the unique characteristics of ivory. Dating back some 10.000 years, mammoth-ivory may very well be a perfect example of historical materials hunted by manufacturers to persuade today’s critical customer.
The movement utilizes ivory for the plates and some of the bridges. It creates a lovely smooth, creamy-white look for the caliber, on which non-ivory parts strikingly stand out. The balance cock is decorated with a fine engraving done in blue and holds a single diamond placed on top of its axle.
The limited edition caliber is used in the “Friedrich August I” and the “Johann von Sachsen”. No customization here, apart from the three available case-materials and which one of the two designs you prefer.
The mammoth-tusk has just enough ivory for 25 movements, so the 25 future owners will have a highly exclusive watch and chances are pretty slim of ever seeing another one in real life. Depending on the fact that you can afford one in the first place and that you are fortunate enough to pick one up before they are all gone.
The case of both models is made in white, yellow or pink gold and measures 43,5 mm and attached by a three-lug design to a leather strap. The two very traditional models differ in design of the dial, hands and numerals, but share functions due to the identical movement. The watches come in at € 33.300 Euro for the rose or yellow gold and € 34.800 Euro for one in white gold, when selecting the ivory movement and are available upon appointment.
Two very opposite ends of the industry both having their unique identity. But how are they intertwined? Simple, they both cater to a connoisseur seeking the very best of what the industry has to offer. On one hand the very futuristic HD3 Slyde and on the other hand the super-traditional Lang & Heyne “Caliber I”. Price tags are not the issue here, people looking for these types of watches don’t think that much about shelling out a couple of bucks extra to stand out from the crowd I think. Esthetics can be considered as the only true decision maker in this case, future new versus ancient new.
If you want to find out more about the watchmakers, I invite you to browse the websites. Both of them contain lots of information about the brands, techniques, materials and the models they put out.
This article is written by Robin Nooij, contributing writer for Monochrome Watches.