Monochrome Watches
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Buying Guide

Six Unconventional Mechanical Watches That Push Boundaries and Break Records

From space-bound displays and two-faced watches to linear winding mechanisms and record-breaking thinness, these watches boggle the mind.

| By Robin Nooy | 6 min read |

Even though the watch industry is often regarded as quite conventional, and focused on tradition and history, there is a far more forward-thinking side to it as well. People and brands that are not afraid of experimenting to bring never-before-seen stuff genuinely excites us. The resulting watches might not be to everyone’s liking, but you have to admire the audacity of some of these watches! With that in mind, this week’s Buying Guide is all about breaking with conformity and doing something others might have never thought possible!

SpaceOne Tellurium

SpaceOne is a fledgeling brand by Guillaume Laidet (Nivada, Excelsior Park, Vulcain) and independent watchmaker Théo Auffret. The Tellurium brings the cosmos to your wrist, as it accurately shows the relative positions of the sun, earth and moon in orbit. In addition, central hands tell time, and there’s a date and month indication. The movement uses a Soprod P024 as its base, with a patented module for the tellurium on top, set in a space-age grade 5 titanium case. Worn on a black fabric strap, the SpaceOne Tellurium retails for EUR 2,999.

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Quick Facts – 50mm x 42mm x 16mm – grade 5 titanium – domed sapphire crystal – crown at noon – solid caseback – 30m water-resistant – aventurine dial – polished titanium stars – central hour & minute hands – tellurium display – date & month – Soprod P024 base, patented tellurium module by Théo Auffret – black fabric strap with titanium buckle – EUR 2,990

Cyrus Etheral Tourbillon

The Cyrus Etheral Tourbillon is a genuine spectacle for the eyes. The whole construction on the front rotates constantly, with the hours indicated by two instantly jumping discs in the centre of the large three-arm bridge. One of the three indicates the minutes, while on the opposite end, two inclined orbital tourbillon escapements regulate everything. The hours can be quick-set by the pusher in the crown on the left, and on the back there’s a convenient power reserve display. Limited to 18 pieces, and fitted to a black alligator leather strap, it costs CHF 330,000.

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Quick Facts – 44mm x 16.3mm – rose gold & titanium case – sapphire crystal front & back – dual crowns – 50m water-resistant – openworked construction with rotating frame – jumping hours – minutes on the perimeter – double inclined orbital tourbillon – Calibre CYR518-E, developed with Chronode – 510 parts – 21,600vph – 72h power reserve – power reserve on the back – black alligator strap – limited to 18 pieces – CHF 330,000

Hermès Arceau Duc Atelé

The Arceau Duc Atelé invites you to dive deep into the equestrian-inspired world of Hermès. This incredibly complex piece houses a central triple-axis tourbillon escapement, floating hour and minute indication, and a minute repeater mechanism. The gongs are shaped like tuning forks and wrap around the dial, with horsehead-shaped hammers striking them upon request. The magic continues in the back, with wheels shaped like those found on a horse-drawn carriage. Available in titanium or gold, it’s limited to 24 pieces each and priced upon request (so, expensive!)

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Quick Facts – 43mm diameter – asymmetrical grade 5 titanium or rose gold case – domed sapphire crystal – transparent caseback – 30m water-resistant – multi-level dial construction – floating chapter ring for hours & minutes – central triple-axis tourbillon – minute repeater mechanism – H1926 movement, manufacture – 563 components – 36,000vph – tuning-fork gongs – 48h power reserve – leather strap – limited to 24 pieces per case material – price upon request

Hublot MP-10

Hublot is known for its expressive watchmaking style, both visually and technically. The new MP-10 keeps that spirit very much alive and combines a very futuristic look with a linear winding mechanism, a vertical tourbillon (and seconds display), a roller for the power reserve and two more for the hours and minutes. At noon there’s a winder for the movement, with a retractable crown in the caseback for setting the time. All is wrapped in micro-blasted titanium, sapphire crystal and rubber. This complex 50-piece limited edition comes in at EUR 275,000.

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Quick Facts – 54.1mm x 41.5mm x 22.4mm – shaped titanium case – shaped sapphire crystal – vertical winder at noon – 30m water-resistant – rollers for the hours, minutes & power reserve – vertical tourbillon with seconds hand – linear winding mechanism – Calibre HUB9013, in-house – 592 components – 21,600vph – 48h power reserve – black structured rubber strap with titanium folding buckle – 50 pieces only – EUR 275,000

De Bethune kind of grand complication

It’s no secret De Bethune does things very differently, and the Kind of Grand Complication proves just that. This rotatable watch combines some of the greatest hits found in Denis Flageollet’s watches; blued and polished titanium, pivoting lugs, studded starry skies, a spherical moon phase, a full perpetual calendar display, a high-speed tourbillon and so on. The movement holds no less than 8 complications and 7 patented De Bethune inventions. And best of all, you can go classical on one side, or contemporary on the other, depending on the mood of your day. Worn on a leather strap, this one comes in at CHF 400,000.

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Quick Facts – 42.3mm x 13.85mm – double-sided case with floating lugs in polished grade 5 titanium – sapphire crystal front & back – two-sided movement with contemporary and classical dial – Calibre CB2829, in-house – 7 patented inventions – 552 components – silicon escape wheel, hours, minutes, jumping seconds, 30-second tourbillon, spherical moon phase with retrograde age of moon indication, perpetual calendar, 4-day power reserve – alligator leather strap with titanium pin buckle – CHF 400,000

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Ultra COSC

Bvlgari rewrote the ultra-thin watchmaking rulebook and literally broke record after record. After being bested by Richard Mille for the thinnest watch in the world last year, Bvlgari took back its crown with the Octo Finissimo Ultra COSC. This measures a wafer-thin 1.70mm, which just boggles the senses. Everything is mounted on a single horizontal level, with steel crowns on the left and right for setting and winding the movement. And to prove it’s not just a gimmick, it’s a COSC-certified chronometer! This incredible marvel of engineering, pushing back boundaries and breaking convention, is limited to 20 pieces for a price of EUR 600,000 each.

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Quick Facts – 40mm x 1.70mm – octagonal sand-blasted titanium with tungsten carbide plate – steel winding & setting crowns – 10m water-resistant – openworked structure with hours, minutes & small seconds counter – BVL Calibre 180, developed with Concepto – ultra-thin hand-wound movement – 1.50mm height – 28,800vph – 50h power reserve – COSC certified – integrated titanium bracelet – limited edition of 20 pieces – EUR 600,000

3 responses

  1. I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to watches, but it is good to see what can be done when people think outside the box. Shame that these are just for the extremely rich.

  2. With exception of Bvlgari, was this competition for big and bigger category !!!!?
    Not a fan

  3. I like the copy quote that the Bvlgari is not a gimmick, that’s exactly what it is!
    600,000? You gots to be kidding me. It’s like watch makers are trying to reinvent the wheel.

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