When it comes to watches, the majority of the timepieces in the market are fairly straightforward. After all, why do we want to change the formula for something that is already working perfectly?
But here is the thing. While we do adore simple and well-made pieces, we are also often fascinated and excited with novelties that are radically different from everyone else. Think of a timepiece when a completely new and original timepiece was launched. We certainly do enjoy moments like that.
So, with inspiration from one of the latest novelties from a German watchmaker (spoiler alert!), we thought that we might want to revisit some rather interesting and novel timepieces that we have seen over the years. These watches should have an interesting concept, or a revolutionary take on existing features.
What are some of the watches that we reckon have fallen into the above-mentioned criteria? Let us find out!
Moritz Grossmann Universalzeit
Moritz Grossmann may be a conservative watch manufacturer on the surface, but that has not stopped them from exploring beyond the usual to create something different from the rest. The Universalzeit is an example.
Launched earlier this week, the 44.5mm Universalzeit is Moritz Grossmann’s interpretation of the worldtimer. This is a rather interesting take, with the brand opting to include a map on the dial, and using 6 apertures to tell time across six time zones on a single glance. It may not be the most functional (considering many worldtimers that used the Cottier system can tell time across 24 time zones), but we do appreciate the German watchmaker’s novel take on the complication. In addition, we reckon it is easier to tell time at a single glance as well – provided if the specific time zone that one is looking out for is amongst the six that are included on the dial.
Priced at S$76,500, the Universalzeit offers collectors something that is truly unique. On top of that, collectors can also enjoy the top quality finishing of a Moritz Grossmann timepiece, which is attainable only at the top echelons of horology (and independent watchmaking).
The MB&F HM3 has been around for quite a number of years now, but this striking timepiece is perhaps one of Maximillian Büsser’s most recognisable work – and one that really got people interested into the crazy world of independent watchmaking. The watch, which features an unusual case shape and two intriguing time indicators (each for a separate hour and minute display), certainly possesses a mysterious aura around it.
First launched in 2009, the timepiece had cemented Max’s position in the horological world. It had also placed the category of independent watchmaking on the map, with more collectors (and non-collectors) getting acquainted with this concept. To say that the HM3 had made a tremendous impact is an understatement; we dare say that the watch – together with other key players – had helped to shape the industry as we know it today.
Even though MB&F had launched many outstanding watches since the HM3, this watch is perhaps the one that best represents the brand. It is not just refreshing and unique, but it personifies the values and ethos behind MB&F. This is definitely an icon – but beyond that, it is one of the watches that helped to champion the independent watchmaking scene.
Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision
The Freak from Ulysse Nardin has always been something that has always captured our attention. First launched in 2001, Ulysse Nardin Freak was an experimental piece that brought us many different technological breakthroughs within the industry. The use of silicium, for instance, is one innovation that can trace its roots back to the Freak.
The Freak Vision – a modern and evolved variation of the original – certainly embodies the ethos behind one of Ulysse Nardin’s finest and craziest creations. It still retains its iconic looks, as well as its “quirks” – such as the absence of a dial and watch crown. In addition, the latest variant is now fitted with a balance wheel that is welded with solid nickel mass elements – a patented first – and has silicium micro-blades to stabilise amplitudes and increase accuracy. It doesn’t get any nerdier than this.
Priced at CHF95,000 (approximately S$138,915), the Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision is not exactly an affordable piece. However, this timepiece is certainly an icon in the eyes of any collectors, and its outrageous looks is something that will remain contemporary and cool in time to come.
Harry Winston Opus 3
The Opus collection is the brainchild of Max Busser, then CEO of Harry Winston. Launched in 2001, the Opus series aims to bring together some of the best independent watchmakers together to produce some of the world’s most mind-boggling timepieces that was known to Man.
Opus 3, produced in collaboration with Vianney Halter, is one of such remarkable timepieces. The incredible Opus 3 – which debuted in 2003 – is one of the most ambitious timepieces that the house had ever produced. So much so that it took almost 10 years to deliver the timepiece to its 55 proud owners.
The watch features 6 potholes, each with an aperture to display numerals. The time display is read horizontally, from the extreme left column to the extreme right column. The top row reads the hours, and the bottom one reads the minute. The center row – which displays the date – is read vertically. The party piece of the watch lies in the countdown timer, in which the center-top counter will display the last 4 seconds (i.e. 56 seconds to 59 seconds) before the respective disc jumps to the next minute.
Originally priced at US$80,000 (approximately S$108,290), the legendary Opus 3 had certainly soared in value over the last few years in the secondary market. This is definitely a unicorn; and we reckon it is perhaps the only one of its kind that we will ever get to see in our lifetime.
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Date
The birth of the Zeitwerk is an interesting one, to say the least. Launched in 2009, the Zeitwerk was thrusted into the limelight in the midst of a financial crisis. But more importantly, the Zeitwerk deviates highly from the usual A. Lange & Söhne watches. This is a bold move, but one that paid dividends in retrospect.
Since its inception a decade back, the Zeitwerk has seen some interesting additions in the collection along the way. The Zeitwerk Date, released in SIHH 2019, is the latest to join the family. The 44.2mm timepiece now comes with a date display that is located at the peripheral of the dial, and it has also doubled its power reserve to 72 hours. The colour scheme – consisting of a slate grey dial with solid silver elements – is aesthetically pleasing. To top it off, the finishing is of the highest standards as usual.
Priced at S$141,700, the Zeitwerk Date carries a premium of S$22,900 over the standard Zeitwerk. Both are excellent pieces, and regardless of which option one goes for, it will still be a brilliant choice nonetheless.
We round up the article with HYT H0.
HYT is an interesting brand, with a totally new concept of telling time – via liquid. Instead of having a typical hour hand, HYT replaced it with a capillary tube filled with two liquid of different densities (one coloured, and the other clear), and used two multi-layer metal bellows (think of it like a hydraulic pump) to control the amount of each of the liquids in the tube. The end result is a rather novel way to tell time, as seen in the picture above.
While HYT was previously declared to be insolvent, it was recently noted that the brand had hired veteran Davide Cerrato (ex-Panerai, Tudor, and Montblanc/Minerva) to helm the company as its CEO. We should be expecting some exciting things in the meantime, but we believe the H0 currently offers collectors a great introduction to the brand. According to HYT’s pre-owned page, there are a few H0’s currently on sale – with prices starting from CHF32,500 (approximately S$47,520) onwards. The HYT H0 (or any HYT, for that matter) is definitely a conversational piece, and one that surely stands out from the crowd.
We have seen some rather interesting watches today, with their own quirks and unique features. This is frankly what we want to see in the industry, where the incumbents (and newcomers) have the guts and gumption to challenge the norms. Just imagine the vibrancy, and benefits, that we can achieve with that.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are some notable mentions as well, such as the original IWC Doppelchronograph and Ulysse Nardin Perpetual Ludwig, which were pioneers in their own right. These are also innovations in the scene that have largely changed the way we think about movements and complications.
Anyhow, what are some of your favourite watches that we have highlighted today? Also, what are some of the most unique and innovative watches that deserve a spot on today’s list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.