I’m glad to see secret watches making a bit of a comeback since I find them to be seductive anachronisms that are very feminine and very functional. Very much in vogue in the 1930s, ҆40s, and ҆50s, “secret watches” kept the time confidential by hiding the watch dial behind a decorative hinged or swiveling cover. Following are five examples introduced earlier this year.
The first timepiece to emerge from the new Ferdinand Berthoud brand is called FB 1. It is intended as a natural continuation of the work accomplished by Ferdinand Berthoud. “It has to be something special,” said the man behind the reborn brand, Chopard’s Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. “It’s a big responsibility to make the first Berthoud wristwatch meaningful and contemporary.”
Ferdinand Berthoud was born in 1727 in Switzerland. When he passed away in 1807, after having lived most of his life in Paris, he left behind a vast body of work in marine chronometers, clocks and watches, tools, scientific measuring instruments, and written publications including dozens of specialized books and treatises encompassing 4,000 pages and 120 engraved plates. The search for precision was his life. But why are we bringing this up now?
I recently had the chance to spend two nights at the Hôtel de Vendôme, which is situated as the gateway to Paris’ swankiest shopping square: Place Vendôme. I stayed there as a guest of Chopard on the way to Le Mans, and this is when I learned a very interesting fact: the beautifully appointed hotel housed within an eighteenth-century mansion now belongs to the Swiss brand.
Jacky Ickx and Chopard co-president Karl-Friedirch Scheufele have been friends for 27 years. In 1989 Scheufele and Ickx drove the Mille Miglia together. “We got to know each other there. He turned up and said, ‘Well, I have no intention of driving. You’re driving; I’m going to watch the scenery’,” Scheufele recently laughed. It is such shared events in addition to the legendary race car driver’s achievements that have inspired Chopard to continue to dedicate timepieces to Ickx, honoring a man who can certainly be called one of the world’s very best drivers.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an automotive pilgrimage; it is to cars what Glastonbury is to music. My father and I have often made the journey from our respective homes in Sussex and Oxfordshire to meet on the Friday, the opening day of the festival, to see the amazing spectacle that takes place at this hill climb. And, of course, what watches did I see at the event?
International timing competitions used to be the Formula 1 of watchmaking, and the watchmakers who prepared the high-precision (pocket) watches were treated like Formula 1 drivers. And that shouldn’t be surprising because until recently, the primary raison d’être of a timepiece was to tell the time. To tell THE time, not the approximate time. An error of 30 seconds day isn’t much . . . until you miss your train by 10 seconds.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race is legendary among motorsports enthusiasts, and I was overjoyed to have been Chopard’s guest during what is for many the most famous motorsport race in the world. At this year’s event I counted a great number of watch brands in attendance in some way including Rolex, Chopard, TAG Heuer, Rebellion, and Franck Muller.
Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele loves Porsche. “We are one of the rare watch brands with a genuine connection to cars,” Scheufele sums up the ultra-successful weekend of the 24 Hours of Le Mans during which Chopard’s partner Porsche added to its mythos by winning the race a seventeenth time. “Not every brand can say that.”
The bright spotlights of Baselworld 2015 lit up a plethora of eye-catching watches of every shape, color, and complication. However, it was only when the lights were turned down or off that a few of the timepieces showed that their dark sides were actually quite bright. Here are a few of the best lume-outfitted watches from Baselworld 2015 from Patek Philippe, Romain Jerome, Chopard, Valbray, Bell & Ross, Bulgari, and Glashütte Original.