The year 2013 was a stellar moment for the rare grand complication, as the SIHH quickly demonstrated. Not only did A. Lange & Söhne present its oeuvre, but to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the sporty, contemporary Royal Oak Offshore, Audemars Piguet also introduced one of these complex masterpieces.
This automatic timepiece includes three of the traditional complications that a watch earning the right to this title should include: minute repeater, perpetual calendar, and (split-seconds) chronograph. The latter, in fact, has most unusually been included as a rattrapante in all of the brand’s grand complications since 1882. Though throughout its long history Audemars Piguet has focused on the traditional side of horology; the advent of the evergreen Royal Oak – the first luxury sports watch – in 1972 added a distinctly sporty side to this manufacture’s classic offerings.
It seemed like one of the best-kept secrets of Baselworld 2013. Perhaps the newness of the refurbished fair itself overshadowed the news of Ulysse Nardin’s five new in-house calibers; perhaps it was simply the overwhelming novelty of the Stranger timepiece that stole the show. Either way, this brand continued its quiet climb into the circle of major players with a whopping 11 new watches at the world’s largest watch fair, about half of which boast in-house movements outfitted with the brand’s pioneering silicon escapement technology.
When MB&F launched its Legacy Machine collection in 2011 with LM1, it was with no small amount of trepidation. The young brand had quickly developed an excellent reputation and passionate following by creating avant-garde Horological Machines, and it certainly wasn’t a given that round watches featuring a reinterpretation of traditional complications would be as well accepted.
Retrospective: One of the most significant watches of 2013 was Urwerk’s EMC. And it’s no wonder why, as it features an integrated optical timing sensor, on-board generator, fold-out winding handle (to power the optical timing sensor), precision delta indication, and on the back a user-friendly timing adjustment screw. As if that’s not enough, EMC also happens to have Urwerk’s first in-house movement.
Traditionally, the right to be called a grand complication is reserved for timepieces containing at least three of horology’s most difficult complications: a chronograph or split-seconds chronograph; an astronomical complication such as a perpetual calendar; and a striking complication, e.g repeater or sonnerie. Naturally, these rules are unwritten and therefore subject to interpretation.
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we just love the wild Richard Mille RM 59-01 Tourbillon Yohan Blake. Its asymmetrical case is made of a translucent composite injected with carbon nanotubes, resulting in the unusual shade somewhat resembling Paleolithic amber. The use of anticorodal PB109 aluminum (an alloy comprising aluminum, magnesium, silicon and lead) make the watch – which includes a tourbillon – very light and shock-resistant.
Before we get inextricably drawn into the horological maelstrom of 2014, let’s take a few minutes to reflect on a few highlights of the year that was.
As the first big watch show of the year, the SIHH usually sets the mood for the following 12 months, and 2013 was no exception. Though bereft of Girard-Perregaux and partner brand JeanRichard, which were bought by the Kering group and thus exhibited later at Baselworld, it was an excellent show with a great number of interesting new releases
To mark its 50th anniversary in 2009, the International Museum of Horology in Le Locle, Switzerland launched an international chronometry competition. This effectively broke a long drought of 37 years since the last timing trial, which was held by the Observatory of Neuchâtel back in 1972.