Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches
Buying Guide

Five Watches with Uniquely Animated Displays and Complications

Taking dials and indications from 2D to 3D is pure watchmaking wizardry.

| By Robin Nooy | 7 min read |
MB&F LMX Steel and Brass

The vast majority of wristwatches, mechanical or quartz, offers information on a flat 2D level. Sure, hands can be suspended a little bit above the dial, and you can even include some recessed or elevated indications for a chronograph or calendar complication, but that’s still on a horizontal plane. If you’re looking for a more dramatic and creative display of displaying time or any additional indications, you narrow it down to just a handful of brands. Sure, the inclusion of a tourbillon escapement visible on the dial side already changes things up, especially when it rotates on multiple axes. But what if you’re looking for even more than that? What if you want a watch with 3D animated displays and/or complications? Well, you’re in luck as these five watches might provide exactly what you’re looking for!

Trilobe Une Folle Journée

When Trilobe first burst upon the independent watchmaking scene, it made some noise because of its unusual and captivating continuous display of time. The inaugural Les Matinaux displayed hours, minutes and seconds through three constantly revolving rings, and this has been at the core of Trilobe ever since. With the Une Folle Journée concept, released earlier this year, Trilobe took things a few steps further. Where previously the rings would be mounted flush or underneath the dial on a flat plane, the domed rings now seem to be floating in mid-air. This sort of deconstructed build reveals the intricate mechanisms needed to drive each ring. The hour, minute and seconds rings are mounted on titanium structures, projecting them upwards. The outer one is for the hours, with the minute ring in the middle, and the seconds ring in the centre. A red triangle helps read the correct time if needed. At EUR 21,500, it’s Trilobe’s most expensive model yet, not taking gold models into account.

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Quick Facts – 40.5mm x 17.8mm – 10.8mm domed sapphire crystal – grade 5 titanium case, brushed and polished – sapphire caseback – screw-down crown – 50m water-resistant – deconstructed display of time with rotating floating rings – fixed pointers as “hands” – black or blue DLC-coated titanium rings – calibre X-Centric, proprietary movement developed by Mojon and made by Le Cercle des Horlogers – automatic with micro-rotor – 196 components incl. 33 jewels – 28,800vph – 48h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds – black or blue alligator leather strap with titanium pin buckle – EUR 21,500 (incl. taxes)

MB&F LMX Steel & Brass

The LMX by MB&F was created to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the launch of the Legacy Machine collection. While MB&F is known for its outlandish, hyper-creative and unconventional watches congregated in the Horological Machine collection, the Legacy Machine concept revolves around more traditional watchmaking techniques and executions. But, being MB&F, always with an evocative twist, of course. The LMX Steel & Brass is the latest version of the celebratory watch. It offers a frosted brass backplate to the fascinating 3D spectacle under the sapphire crystal dome. Two independently set hour and minute sub-dials display two time zones. These are facing towards you and can be read from a shallow angle. Sandwiched in between is the balance wheel, suspended by a polished arched bridge. The spherical 168-hour power reserve and weekday indication are placed between the bridges’ arms. Limited to 33 pieces and costing CHF 108,000 makes it both rare and very pricey, but it’s an absolute stunner of a watch!

MB&F LMX Steel and Brass

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Quick Facts – 44mm x 21.4mm – stainless steel case, polished – dual crowns – ultra-domed sapphire crystal – sapphire crystal caseback – frosted brass plate – two independent sub-dials for dual time display – small seconds at 6′ – floating balance wheel held in place by arched bridge – hemispherical power reserve display and weekday indicator at 12′ – battleaxe escapement bridge – manual winding – 367 components – 41 jewels – 18,800vph – 168h power reserve – 19th-century style Haute Horlogerie finishing – brown alligator leather strap with stainless steel folding buckle – limited to 33 pieces – CHF 108,000

Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey

If the LMX by MB&S looks to the more traditional side of expressive high-end watchmaking, anything Urwerk does takes us years into the future, at least in aesthetics. One of the craziest and most recent creations is the Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey. The UR-112 is one of the most complex Urwerks ever, which says a lot considering the mindblowing things it’s done in the past. It features two cylindrical sapphire crystal containers that display the digital jumping hour and minutes display. Each hour and 5-minute interval is engraved on prisms and filled with Super-LumiNova. The steel and titanium case is also covered by a hinged hood, which can be unlocked through pushers in the caseband. Flipping up this hood reveals the digital seconds and analogue power reserve indication on top. Urwerk doesn’t communicate how many pieces it will make but consider it to be extremely limited. The price is astronomical as well, at CHF 250,000.

URWERK UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey Titanium

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Quick Facts – 42mm x 51mm – steel and titanium case – polished and sandblasted – hinged hunter-style hood with unlocking pushers – digital jumping hour and minutes on triangular prisms inside sapphire crystal cylinders – digital jumping seconds and analogue power reserve displayed under hinged hood – calibre UR 13.01 – automatic winding – 28.800vph – flat hairspring – 48h power reserve – very limited production – CHF 250,000

Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron sapphire

It’s impossible to compile a list of watches revolving around spectacular 3D complications and displays of time and not mention Jacob & Co. Easily one of the most outspoken and creative independent watchmakers in the business, Jacob & Co. has made a name with amazingly complex machines like the Astronomia or the Jean Bugatti Tourbillon Chronograph. However, it’s the Bugatti Chiron Sapphire we’ll be looking at today. This rather sizeable watch features a full sapphire crystal case (available in multiple colours, by the way), revealing every intricate little detail. The calibre JCAM037 features an inclined tourbillon escapement, a suspended hour and minute dial, a power reserve that can be read from the top and the side, and, of course, its unique party piece: the sapphire crystal W16 automaton, with spinning turbos and everything. Most of them are presented as unique pieces; this sapphire and red model is limited to 7 pieces. The starting price is EUR 1,300,000.

Jacob & Co Bugatti Chiron Sapphire Crystal

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Quick Facts – 57.8mm x 44.4mm x 21.5mm – full sapphire case with AR-coating – sapphire crystal and titanium crowns and pushers – Chiron “grille” with Bugatti logo – index ring with EB logo colour-tipped hour and minute hands – red-white-and-blue PR indicator – calibre JCAM37 – in-house manual wound movement – 578 components – 51 jewels – 21,600vph – working W16 sapphire crystal engine automaton – 30° inclined one-minute tourbillon – rubber strap with titanium deployment buckle – highly limited and unique pieces – starting at EUR 1,300,000

Ulysse Nardin Freak S

The Freak by Ulysse Nardin can be seen as one of the modern-day precursors for 3D displays of time. It broke all the rules at the time it was presented, way back in 2001 already. The Freak was the first-ever watch to incorporate silicon components and featured a unique module suspended over the dial to indicate the time. The 2022 Ulysse Nardin Freak S is perhaps the most complex evolution of the iconic watch, as it takes the Freak concept into a whole new territory. Suspended over an aventurine base dial is a complex regulating system with twin-inclined balance wheels, gears, worm screws and more. Shaped like a spaceship, it rotates over the dial once an hour, with the nose of the whole structure indicating the minutes. The hours are indicated by the pointer suspended on the periphery of the dial. Limited to 75 pieces, this Ulysse Nardin Freak S will set you back EUR 123,500.

Ulysse Nardin Freak S

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Quick Facts – 45mm diameter – black ceramic and black DLC-coated titanium case – rose gold bezel – domed box-type sapphire crystal – titanium and sapphire crystal caseback – 30m water-resistant – black aventurine glass base dial – calibre UN-251, in-house – Grinder automatic with blades, flexible guidance and shock-absorber – twin-balance beating at 18,000vph – 72h power reserve – hours and minutes on carousel movement rotation – extra-large inclined silicium double balance-wheel – alligator strap with black DLC-coated titanium folding buckle – limited to 75 pieces – EUR 123,500

3 responses

  1. I could understand buying any of these for a bit of a novelty if they were about £10 but at that price it says “I am so rich I can spend more than you earn in a year on this weird looking “watch” “

  2. Ahhh Trilobe, Trilobe… ya el mero hecho de haberte colado en un grupo tan encumbrado y revientabolsillos dice mucho de tu magia.


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