4 Exotic New Watches For 2020 By Independent Watchmakers Urwerk, MB&F, F.P. Journe, And Greubel Forsey
In Europe we are two months into the great lockdown of 2020 and are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. But even more heartwarming is the deluge of new timepieces we are seeing launch at this moment – if only digitally.
Let’s delve into four new introductions by independent watchmakers that I look forward to seeing in the metal as soon as possible.
F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance 20th Anniversary
When François-Paul Joune first presented his Résonance wristwatch in 2000, it was like a bolt of lightning had invigorated the watch world! The F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance became an instant classic.
It’s hard to believe that this timepiece is already 20 years old, but here we are. And in honor of this milestone anniversary, the Geneva-based French watchmaker presents a twentieth-anniversary edition.
You can learn everything you might want to know about the phenomenon of resonance in Understanding Resonance, Featuring The F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance, Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance, And Haldimann H2 Flying Resonance.
F.P. Journe’s Chronomètre à Résonance is outfitted with two balances alternately serving as exciter and resonator. In motion, they enter into harmony thanks to resonance and begin to beat naturally in opposition. Setting and adjusting these balances is an extremely delicate task for the watchmaker.
The new Chronomètre à Résonance features one single spring barrel spring providing power to both movements. A differential – seen at the center of the dial – transmits the barrel’s energy to the two secondary gear trains, each of which is equipped with its own one-second remontoir d’égalité for constant force.
All this is housed in a redesigned case with a crown now placed at 2 o’clock, making winding and setting easier. Turning it clockwise winds and sets the left dial; turning it counterclockwise winds and sets the right dial. Pulling out the crown at 4 o’clock simultaneously resets both second hands, ensuring time-setting to the second befitting of a chronometer.
Turning the watch over, both regulators become visible at the bottom of the beautifully finished 18-karat pink gold movement. This surely has to be one of the most exciting movement views in the world.
This new model is available in platinum or in Journe’s unusual 18-karat 6N red gold and in a choice of 40 or 42 mm. The dial is proposed in 18-karat white or 6N red gold with the subdials in whitened silver guilloche.
There have been several versions of the Chronomètre à Résonance over the last 20 years: the original 20 pieces launched using a subscription system (2000); the first collection series (2001); a ruthenium series (2001-2002); that ruthenium variation with its movement in 18-karat pink gold (2005); a “digital” 24-hour Résonance (2010); an analogue 24-hour Résonance (2019); and now and the anniversary Chronomètre à Résonance (2020).
For more information, please visit www.fpjourne.com/en/collection/classique-collection/chronometre-resonance.
Quick Facts F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance 20th Anniversary
Case: 40 or 42 x 11 mm, platinum or 18-karat 6N red gold
Movement: manual-wind Caliber 1520 with 18-karat pink gold plates and bridges, 2 independent gear trains including regulators, free-sprung balances with 4 inertia weights each, 2 one-second remontoirs d’égalité for constant force, one differential gear, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: 12 hours, minutes, hacking seconds; 24 hours, minutes, hacking seconds, power reserve indication
Price: CHF 105,000 (platinum); CHF 101,400 (6N red gold), all prices without tax
MB&F HM10 Bulldog
Inspired by – you guessed it – a bulldog, MB&F’s tenth Machine is anything but boring. The HM10 Bulldog features a rounded, elongated case that looks compact (like a bulldog’s torso), a time display forming its eyes, and stout legs formed by the lugs, hugging you (the owner) fiercely and loyally.
Forget the view of that crazy front for a minute and do what most WIS first do: turn the watch over – because on the back you’ll find even crazier elements that are bound to make your day. For one, the engraving “forget the dog beware the owner,” which really says it all.
Anyone wearing this timepiece is someone you need to keep a serious eye on. He or she is likely to be feisty.
But what is more likely to attract your eye are the wildly canine jaws with teeth that open and shut according to the amount of tension in the mainspring (an effect reminiscent of Fiona Krüger’s Vanitas clock). If you can clearly see these menacing teeth, the movement is fully wound with 45 hours’ worth of fight in it.
Those jaws are also visible from the front side looking at the watch head on: look at the time display cones (which you might remember from the HM3) inside of the high sapphire crystal dome and then look just below the case from there. It’s a pretty cool effect.
I also love the flying balance wheel, which measures a full 14 mm in diameter – you won’t miss it as it stands in for the dog’s brain. This balance is presented in a more lighthearted way in the Bulldog than in the Legacy Machines, where it made its debut.
Just look at the HM10 Bulldog from the side and tell me what you see. You will never be able to unsee it – nor will you necessarily want to. But beware of this beast’s size: you’ll need a beefy wrist to take it for a walk.
For more information, please visit www.mbandf.com/en/machines/horological-machines/hm10.
Quick Facts MB&F HM10 Bulldog
Case: 54 x 45 x 24 mm, titanium or red gold with titanium
Movement: manual winding in-house caliber with flying balance wheel, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph, 45-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indication (bulldog jaws)
Price: CHF 98,000 / $105,000 / €92,000 (titanium); CHF 112,000 / $120,000 / €105,000 (red gold/titanium); all prices without tax
Urwerk UR-100 Yellow Gold C-3PO
In the fall of 2019, the Urwerk UR-100 arrived on the scene, a brand-new interpretation of Urwerk’s satellite hour and minute displays. Except that this far-out watch also displays something else entirely: the distance our planet travels through space and the distance traveled on the equator in a 20-minute time frame.
Aside from the space-age additional functionality, the UR-100 also embodies something else: a bit of nostalgia for the early work of Urwerk as displayed in the case design.
“We have adopted some of the stylistic features of our first constructions, and then deconstructed them,” explains co-founder and designer Martin Frei. “For example, the steel dome of our early models is now in transparent sapphire crystal. The hard outlines of the titanium case highlight its perfection. Because I’m always at odds with the dictates of symmetry, I have used different proportions to catch the eye,” he concludes.
In early 2020, the UR-100 was offered in a limited edition of 25 with a gunmetal finish.
Now the UR-100 arrives in a gold edition that Urwerk very fittingly has given the nickname C-3PO. It launched on May 4, 2020 – May the Fourth, otherwise known in pop culture as “Star Wars Day.” The droid’s gold-colored armor is similar to the hue of pale, satin-finished 2N yellow gold of this UR-100’s case.
“Science fiction has been an inexhaustible source of inspiration since the creation of Urwerk,” Frei continues. “I have been a sci-fi geek since childhood.”
The first 2N gold piece from this edition was auctioned by Urwerk to raise funds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, with the winning bidder able to choose the specific charity or institution for the funds. The watch went to an individual from Liverpool for a fantastically charitable price of CHF 96,500. The new owner chose the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) as the beneficiary, saying, “As the first institution in the world dedicated to research and teaching in tropical medicine, LSTM plays a key role in fight against COVID-19. It is also a symbol of the city’s past where Liverpool was a prominent port city which carried on an extensive trade with overseas regions.”
For more information on the remaining 24 pieces of the edition, please visit www.urwerk.com/collections/ur-satellite/ur-100.
Quick Facts UR-100 Yellow Gold (C-3PO)
Case: 41 x 49.7 x 14 mm, 2N yellow gold
Movement: automatic Caliber UR 12.01, 4 Hz/28,800 vph, 48-hour power reserve
Functions: satellite hours and minutes, rotational distance of the earth at the equator in 20 minutes; orbital distance of the earth in 20 minutes
Limitation: 25 pieces
Greubel Forsey QP à Équation
The Greubel Forsey QP à Équation was launched in 2015 and went on to win the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Calendar category in 2017 (when the production actually complied with the GPHG’s commercialization rules). Now for 2020 Greubel Forsey introduces its incredible take on the perpetual calendar in a new red gold case with chocolate-brown dial.
The QP à Équation features Greubel Forsey’s seventh invention, the Computeur Mécanique (mechanical computer), a miniature perpetual calendar and equation of time calculator, which is a complete departure from the traditional perpetual calendar mechanism.
While it displays traditional perpetual calendar indications, the patent-pending Quantième Perpétuel à Équation does it in an entirely different and much more logical and user-friendly way, utilizing an actual mechanical calculating engine.
Greubel Forsey’s mechanical computer is a system of 25 components interacting with the gear train to control six different displays; it is responsible for eight indications – four on the front and four on the rear of the movement.
On the front we have the perpetual calendar’s date, day, and month in a beautiful and easy-to-read package. Flanking this group of displays on the left at 6 o’clock is the leap year indication, which connects straight through to the rear of the movement where the indication also drives the digital year display.
Also on the rear is the equation of time with the season, solstice, and equinox displays. The equation of time has its own sapphire crystal disk, while the season, solstice, and equinox are on a second sapphire crystal disk directly below that. Since the seasons, solstices, and equinoxes are all tied to each other based on the calendar, they can be grouped into a single display.
The equation of time disk, and its manta ray-esque indication, move at a slightly different rate than the calendar year and pass over a graduated scale starting at zero and descending to 16. These are the minutes of apparent solar time (where the sun actually is in the sky), ahead or behind mean solar time, which is the time that your watch keeps (after adjustment for time zones).
And all of these indications are set and wound by one single crown! Backward or forward. Thanks to a pushbutton selector, the crown can be switched from time setting to perpetual calendar setting (with a corresponding indicator on the dial), making for easy adjustments.
The dial even has a 24-hour indicator between 7 and 8 o’clock, with a highlighted red section between the hours of the date change in which period you should avoid adjusting the mechanism. But even if you make a mistake don’t worry, there is a safety mechanism so that you cannot make an adjustment when there’s a possibility of damaging the movement.
Oh, and it wouldn’t be a Greubel Forsey without an inclined tourbillon, in this case a 25-degree inclined 24-second tourbillon. What a package!
For more information please visit www.greubelforsey.com/en/collection/qp-a-equation.
Quick Facts Greubel Forsey Quantième Perpétuel à Équation
Case: 43.5 x 16 mm, 5N red gold
Movement: manually wound caliber based upon Greubel Forsey’s seventh invention with 24-second tourbillon at a 25-degree incline, variable inertia balance, 72-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; 24-hour indicator, power reserve; perpetual calendar with day, date, month, digital year, leap year; equation of time, season, solstice, equinox
Price: CHF 670,000 / $680,000 (excluding tax)