Monochrome Watches
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Buying Guide

A Selection Of Mechanical Marvels With Unconventional Time Displays

Ingenuity and creativity rule supreme with these six high-end mechanical watches.

| By Robin Nooy | 7 min read |

It has to be said there is no shortage of creativity in the watchmaking industry. Ok, some watches might be a bit more imaginative and original than others, but in the end, there is something out there for everyone. Whether you love a super-refined dress watchdress watch, a robust dive watchdive watch or a practical GMT watch, it’s all there. But what if you’re looking to spice things up a bit? What if you want something far more expressive and unconventional? Well, as luck would have it, plenty of brands cater to your very needs! Here’s a look at six of them that throw out the rulebook and offer something fun and different yet still tell time!

MB&F HM8 Mark 2

Just a couple of days ago, expressive independent watchmaker MB&F unveiled the Mark 2 version of the car-inspired HM8. Available in a white or green variation, with a titanium and CarbonMacrolon case, the watches take their shape from engine covers and roll hoops in classic cars (cars with a Zagato Double-Bubble, for instance). Time is read vertically on the front of the watch, with reflective prisms projecting and magnifying the time of two discs. One for the jumping hours, which works both ways and the other for the trailing minutes. The green is limited to 33 pieces, while the white one isn’t, but both cost the same at EUR 70,000

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Quick Facts – 47mm x 41.5mm x 19mm – grade 5 titanium & green or white CarbonMacrolon case – sapphire crystal on top, front and back – lateral time indication with jumping hours & rotating minutes displayed by reflective prisms – Girard-Perregaux base movement with in-house developed module on top – 28,800vph – 30 jewels – 42h power reserve – white or green calfskin strap with loop & velcro closing – green limited edition of 33 pieces, white non-limited edition – EUR 70,000

Urwerk ur-100V Magic T

With a name like Magic T, you expect some, well, magic and the Urwerk UR-100V Magic T certainly doesn’t disappoint. The full titanium case and bracelet give it a very tactile look and feel, as the domed sapphire crystal uncovers the marvel within. Time is displayed with hour satellites, a signature complication for the brand. Each hour, one of the satellites moves into place and begins its 60-minute journey. This whole setup is flanked by indications for Earth’s rotational distance at the equator, and the orbital distance travelled in 20 minutes. Urwerk doesn’t communicate the number it is limited to, but it retails for CHF 58,000.

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Quick Facts – 41mm x 49.7mm x 14mm – titanium case, sanded and shot-blasted – sapphire crystal front & back – titanium-coloured satellite carousel for the hours – minute track in white and red – calibre UR12.02, automatic base movement with in-house display module – Windfänger airscrew – satellite hours in beryllium-bronze Geneva crosses – 28,800vph – 48h power reserve – full titanium bracelet – limited to an undisclosed number of pieces – CHF 58,000

F.P. Journe ffc

The FFC by esteemed independent watchmaker F.P. Journe should be well-known by now. It is the most unusual piece imaginable, as it indicates the time with a fully functional mechanical automaton gauntlet. The fingers jump out from underneath the back of the hand in 12 different positions, signalling the full hour with a unique gesture. This is paired with a rotating minute disc on the outer perimeter and driven by a complex movement based on the calibre Octa 1300.The atelier’s capacity limits its productiony, and the price is upon request.

FP Journe FFC - Production Watch Review

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Quick Facts – 42mm x 10.70mm – platinum case, polished – sapphire crystal front and back – openworked dial with titanium articulated mechanical hand – retractable fingers for the hours – rotating minute disc with triangular pointer at noon – F.P. Journe calibre 1300.3 in 18k rose gold – automatic winding – 21,600vph – 120h power reserve – instantaneous digital hours with rotating minute disc – Nivatronic laser-soldered balance spring – titanium bridges with Titalyt® coating – double-signed central rotor – in-line lever escapement – black alligator leather strap – limited by production – price upon request

Kudoke Handwerk 3

The Kudoke HANDwerk 3 might be the most sensible and conventional watch on this list, but it’s a fun piece nonetheless. Using Stephan Kudoke’s Kaliber 1 hand-wound proprietary movement, developed with Habring², the HANDwerk 3 moves the hour hand underneath the dial. With just half of a dial, it can be seen traversing three arches, with one of the three arms of the hour hand entering the arch, as another one of a different length leaves an arch. It takes a little to get used to, but in the end, it reads just fine. The central hand is for the minutes, if you were wondering. The Kudoke HANDwerk 3 retails for EUR 9,350, without taxes.

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Quick Facts – 39mm x 10.3mm – steel case, polished – stepped bezel – sapphire crystal front & back – onion-style crown – frosted two-part dial – tempered blue steel three-arm hour and central minute hands – triple hour-arch – Kudoke Kaliber 1 (Habring² A11 base movement), hand-wound – hand-engraved balance bridge – 28.800vph – 46h power reserve – leather or Alcantara strap – available directly from Kudoke – EUR 9,350 before taxes

hautlence vagabonde  x black badger

Hautlence has teamed up with the (very friendly) Mad Scientist James Thompson, otherwise known as Black Badger, for a unique take on the already surprising Vagabonde Series 4. Upping the ante beyond the already spellbinding planetary wandering hours display in the centre of the dial, James Thompson added a maze-like structure of solid luminous 3D Badgerite elements and white 3D Badgerite minute numerals. This is set in the TV-screen-shaped stainless steel case we know from the ‘regular’ Vagabonde Series 4 and is driven by calibre B30 (made with H. Moser & Cie). It’s limited to 28 pieces in total, each one costing CHF 33,000.

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Quick Facts – 43mm x 50.8mm x 11.90mm – stainless steel case – sapphire crystal front & back – frosted Blackor dial – maze-like luminous 3D Badgerite pattern – planetary wandering hours display with 3D Badgerite minute ring – calibre B30, automatic (developed with H. Moser & Cie) – 21,600vph – 34 jewels – 72h power reserve – bright-blue rubber strap with steel pin buckle – limited edition of 28 pieces – CHF 33,000 before taxes

jacob & co. astronomia revolution

We go out with a bang, taking a look at the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Revolution. This has the fastest rotating carousel Jacob & Co. has ever created. And even though it displays the hours and minutes by traditional hands mounted on a sort of traditional-looking dial suspended on an arm, the overall spectacle is what gets us every time. Yes, it’s extravagant, but the technical aspect of it is marvellous, really. The entire construction, double-axis tourbillon included, is suspended over the octagonal base plates and rotates in one minute. The synthetic ruby cone doubles as a seconds hand. It can be yours for USD 600,000, but only 18 are made.

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Quick Facts – 47mm x 27mm – 18k rose gold, white gold or black DLC-coated white gold case – ultra-domed sapphire crystal with sapphire crystal caseband – carousel construction with sub-dial for hours and minutes, rotating ruby cone for the seconds, double-axis tourbillon – JCAM48B movement, manually wound – 53 jewels – 21,600vph – 36h power reserve – black Cordura strap with rubber lining and rose gold folding buckle – limited to 18 pieces (6 per variation) – USD 600,000

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