Objects Of Desire: Independent Watches At Baselworld 2016
Welcome to another episode of “Objects of Desire,” in which I share my musings about watches that I would love to own but that fall into one of two categories:
- Pieces for which the time just hasn’t been right: here I’m thinking of watches like the Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight in Paris, produced in small volumes and on my list, but not yet at the top.
- True objects of desire: watches that are unattainable due to scarcity (such as the Philippe Dufour Duality); are simply beyond my ability to spend; or would require that I liquidate most or all of my collection to acquire.
It’s been a while since my last “Objects of Desire” post and perhaps for good reason: that article featured the “unattainable” watches of Greubel Forsey, and within a few months I had sold three treasured timepieces to be able to add the GF Invention Piece 1 to my collection (see Objects Of Desire: Greubel Forsey and Why I Bought It: Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 1).
So it is with a bit of trepidation that I turn my attention to independent watches from Baselworld 2016 that are already on my “desire” list; we’ll see whether any of these make it onto my wrist as a result!
Sarpaneva Korona K3 Northern Stars Black Enamel
The name is a mouthful, but the Northern Stars Black Enamel is a beauty! I’ve long admired Sarpaneva’s work, and – as is generally the case with the independent watchmakers I know – he is a lovely guy.
Until now, though, I just haven’t found the “right one” for me in terms of something that I thought I would wear regularly. This version of the Northern Stars changes all that: the combination of the pink gold case and deep black enamel dial brings a sense of concentrated warmth to the wrist, while the touches of muted blue at the markers and in the night sky surrounding the classic Sarpaneva moon face create visual interest.
For more information, please visit www.sarpanevawatches.com/korona-k3-northern-stars.
Quick Facts Sarpaneva K3 Northern Stars Black Enamel
Case: 42 x 10.2 mm, red gold
Movement: automatic modified Soprod Caliber A10
Dial: black high-fire enamel
Functions: hours, minutes; moon phases
Limitation: 10 pieces
Price: €26,000 plus applicable tax
Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire
It’s no secret that I’m an admirer of the “Horological Brothers” Bart and Tim Grönefeld and their work; traveling to Oldenzaal to pick up my One Hertz was one of the great highlights of my time as a collector (see Grönefeld One Hertz – A Collector’s Journey).
The 1941 Remontoire was one of the most acclaimed timepieces at this year’s show, and it’s easy to see why: Bart and Tim have really made a big step forward with the aesthetics of the case, creating a sophisticated look that should wear well for years to come.
As for the movement, it’s beautifully made and looks even deeper than it really is due to the clever use of different textures and colors. And for me the fact that the remontoir design is directly inspired by the tower clock in Oldenzaal that is maintained to this day by the brothers’ father, Sjef Grönefeld, makes the watch even more special.
Even the buckle is new, with carved flanks that mirror the subtle ridges that begin on the sides of the case and continue onto the lugs.
For more information, please visit www.gronefeld.com/1941-remontoire.
Quick Facts Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire
Case: 39.5 x 10.5 mm; white gold or red gold
Movement: manually wound Caliber G-05 with 8-second remontoire mechanism and 36-hour power reserve with constant force
Dial: frosted and satin-grained Sterling silver
Functions: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds
Limitation: 188 pieces
Price: €49,500 (red gold), €50,850 (white gold) plus tax
Kari Voutilainen Kaen
When it comes to clever application of artistry to already-great watches, Voutilainen consistently leads the pack. The Kaen’s micro-mosaic dial would be a treat to see on the wrist, and through the loupe, for years on end.
For me, however (and for the CEO of one major watch brand, who was raving about it in my presence) the most beautiful part of the decoration is reserved for the movement side, where specially designed bridges and wheels have been blessed with the same gorgeous treatment.
To allow for the depth of the mosaic, the bridges you see in the above photo are somewhat thicker than on a standard Vingt-8. They are anchored to the rest of the movement with special screw-washer combinations set into recesses.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be tempted to wear this one upside down!
For more information, please visit www.voutilainen.ch/kaen.
Quick Facts Kari Voutilainen Kaen
Case: 39 mm, white gold
Movement: manually wound Vingt-8 Voutilainen caliber with direct impulse escapement and two escape wheels; German silver and titanium base plate and bridges with decoration by Unryuan studio; pink gold wheels
Dial: micro mosaic by Unryuan studio in Japan
Functions: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds
Limitation: one unique piece
Price: 220,000 Swiss francs
Andreas Strehler Sauterelle à Lune Perpetuelle Exacte and Papillon d’Or
My mind is telling me to get this one: after all, where else are you going to find a moon phase watch that indicates the moon phase correctly without adjustment for two million years, has a Vernier scale to indicate the exact age of the moon down to the hour, and throws in a remontoir and stunning looks to boot?
My heart, on the other hand (and this is about desire, right?) is screaming at me to ignore my rational side and go for the fantastic Papillon d’Or in pink gold. As you can probably tell by now, I just love well-done pink gold watches. Openworking combined with great finishing technique makes me weak in the knees.
And as my heart also whispers to my brain, this watch is not without its own bits of technical interest. In the photo above, check out the transparent sapphire crystal gears used to drive the “mysterious” hour and minute hands. While you’re at it, spend another few seconds to appreciate the killer finishing and sharp interior angles on the main gold “butterfly” bridge that gives this watch its name.
This one is going to be very hard to resist!
Quick Facts Andreas Strehler Sauterelle à Lune Perpetuelle Exacte
Case: 41 x 10 mm, red gold or platinum
Movement: manually wound manufacture Caliber Sauterelle Lune Exacte outfitted with remontoir d’égalité for constant force
Functions: hours, minutes, perpetual moon phase, which needs adjustment by one day only every 2 million years, moon age indication via vernier scale
Price: 112,000 Swiss francs (red gold) or 125,000 Swiss francs (platinum) plus applicable tax
Akrivia Tourbillon Regulateur
One of the treats of Basel was our brief meeting with Rexhep Rexhepi and the Akrivia team. I’m deeply impressed by what this young watchmaker has already accomplished and am particularly taken by his dedication to top-flight finishing techniques.
On display at this year’s show was a special version of the brand’s Tourbillon Regulateur, this one featuring a hand-hammered gold dial. The texture of the dial caught the afternoon light in constantly shifting ways and provided visual interest to what is otherwise a quite simple dial side while at the same time allowing the time to be easily read.
On the movement side, we see more of the boutique brand’s hallmarks: multiple internal angles, great rounded beveling, excellent black polishing, and hand engraving.
At this point, my only wish is for Akrivia to consider the option of a more classical case shape for some of its offerings; if that happens, I could be in serious danger of emptying my checkbook.
For more information, please visit www.akrivia.ch,
Quick Facts Akrivia Tourbillon Regulateur
Case: 42.5 x 12.9 mm, pink gold or stainless steel
Movement: manually winding caliber with one-minute tourbillon and 100-hour power reserve
Dial: hand-hammered gold
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds shown regulator-style
Price: 175,000 Swiss francs (pink gold); 150,000 Swiss francs (stainless steel)
Renaud & Papi Pocket Watch
Time for a monumentally large finish: the only watch in existence branded Renaud & Papi, this openworked perpetual calendar pocket watch is the personal property of Dominique Renaud, who was kind enough to share with Elizabeth and I during a lunch otherwise devoted to discussing his new project (see Dominique Renaud: A Horological Grand Master Then And Now and Dominique Renaud’s DR01 ‘Twelve First’ With Blade Resonator, Experimental Rotary Escapement, And Panoramic 360° Views).
I’ve had the enormous good fortune to hold, and photograph, some very special watches, including the Giulio Papi No. 1 pocket watch (see Exclusive: The Giulio Papi No. 1 Pocket Watch and Reunited: Giulio Papi And The G.N. Papi Number 1 Pocket Watch); the very first F.P. Journe tourbillon wristwatch; and Philippe Dufour’s Simplicity prototype. For me, the experience of discovering this previously unknown watch and holding it in my hand was every bit as exciting.
In the photo above, you can see the “Renaud & Papi” inscription engraved at the center of the movement. I grabbed a few quick snaps, passed the watch along, and returned to the important conversation at hand – but I won’t soon forget that moment.
One of the most exciting things about being a collector is that it sometimes turns out to be possible to have, for your very own, a watch that has consumed your thoughts and stirred your emotions for a long while.
At the same time, a collector’s resources aren’t infinite; at least for me, I’m at a point where buying special new pieces will continue to require that I part with some beloved watches already in my collection.
Will any of these watches pass that test? Time will tell.