The bumper crop of new watches this week showcase the best in the industry, and just how far techniques and innovations have come over the years. Urwerk, one of the most radical manufacturers in the industry today, has gone beyond moon phases and equation of time in paying homage to the universe. Then there’s Richard Mille, whose latest haute horlogerie creation managed to withstand incredible g-forces over the Formula 1 weekend in Singapore last week.
Meanwhile, Vacheron Constantin stirs hearts all over again with a relaunch of its famous Historique Corne de Vache 1955 in steel, while Akrivia ropes in the expertise of one of the finest case-makers in the industry for its new offerings.
Here are all the updates in the timekeeping world this week.
A million-dollar watch isn’t the best accessory to be flashing while driving at more than 300kph, but it was exactly what “the Iceman” Kimi Räikkönen was wearing when he tore down the circuit at this year’s Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Designed in collaboration with the haute horlogerie masters at Richard Mille, the Finnish driver’s RM 50-04 wasn’t designed to be worn for leisure, but to be constantly challenged to its limits. Its ability to handle incredible g-forces — think 5,000 g’s — is courtesy of extensive in-house tests and know-how of highly technical materials. Most Richard Mille watches are pretty substantial, but this skeletonised split-seconds chronograph tourbillon sees a titanium movement that weighs a mere seven grams, making it comfortable enough for 61 high-octane laps around the Marina Bay circuit.
Colours are, of course in tandem with Räikkönen’s Alfa Romeo ride, with a white quartz bezel and caseback that’s matched to red accents throughout, including the strap.
Breitling’s no stranger to the world of flying, especially since it played an important tole in the golden era of aviation. To commemorate this special relationship with the air, the storied watch manufacturer has collaborated with some of the most emblematic airlines for special editions.
Following capsule releases with TWA and Pan Am, Etihad Airways — the national airline of the UAE — is the latest to join the fleet with the Aviator 8 Day and Date 41 Limited Edition. As you’d expect, the look is a delicate balance between Middle Eastern luxury and quiet sophistication. In paying tribute to its Arabian heritage, the black steel case and dial is marked by gold Eastern Arabic numerals and hands, making this a truly unique timepiece.
Only 500 pieces of this will be available and will only be sold in Etihad’s home base, Abu Dhabi, until early 2020 before it’s released worldwide.
If Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and Rolex’s GMT-Master II are anything to go by, the demand for steel sports watches is at a new high, and Vacheron Constantin isn’t about to let this opportunity slip by them. No surprise then that they’ve chosen a collector’s favourite, the Historique Corne de Vache 1955, to be relaunched in steel.
Named after lugs that resemble cow horns, the steel iteration first debuted as a collaboration with Hodinkee in 2016, with all 36 pieces selling out immediately. This version is a faithful interpretation of the legendary reference 6087. Details such as the distinctive cow-horn lugs and grooved crown were retained, as were the mushroom-styled chronograph pushers. Its strap will also mark Milanese leather company Maison Serapian’s first partnership with the brand.
At 38.5mm however, this version is slightly larger than the original’s 35mm, but still makes a handsome addition to any respectable collection.
Urwerk isn’t interested in making regular watches, but it’s really taking the out-of-this-world theme seriously with the UR-100 Spacetime. At 14mm thick, it’s astounding what this radical watch can do.
The “wandering hours” display of time is a complication that the brand holds dear to its heart, but this striking presentation is also accompanied by two brand new astronomical indications. 1) The distance travelled on Earth (i.e. the number of kilometres travelled on earth as it spins on its axis at the equator), and 2) The distance travelled by earth (i.e. how far the Earth has travelled in orbit around the sun). Again, complications we don’t need, but always nice to brag about.
Although barely seven years old, Akrivia has defined itself as a manufacturer that’s obsessively dedicated to perfecting the traditional art of watchmaking today. Its 32-year-old founder, Rexhep Rexhepi, is responsible for this vision, and it is this determination that has birthed the start of a partnership between him and Jean-Pierre Hagmann — one of the industry’s most celebrated case maker.
Hagmann’s portfolio includes eminent houses such as Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, and Patek Phillippe, so he’s no stranger to creating refined works of art for the wrist. Although retired in 2017, it is Rexhepi’s passion that spurred him to return for an encore, and has already begun work on his first project – constructing the platinum case for the Chronometre Contemporain, made for the Only Watch auction.
In time, he will be the man behind all of Akrivia’s current models and future timepieces, including the Chronometre Contemporain’s successor next year.