If this had been a “normal” year like those we have experienced in recent times, SIHH (now Watches & Wonders) would have taken place around two months ago and we’d be in the throes of preparation for Baselworld.
But these are no longer normal times.
In 2020, had things gone according to everyone’s plans, the two major fairs would take place back to back at the end of April and continue into early May. A long week for sure, but at the end of it we would have had an organized overview of the luxury watch market.
In came COVID-19, and like a cascade of dominoes one watch event after another was canceled. Luckily we were able to see a few new watches at LVMH Watch Week, though. But the rest of the previews are and have been digital for us so far this year. So let’s talk about what we’re seeing!
To kick things off, here are five new watches by independent watchmakers that we would have seen for the first time at Watches & Wonders or Baselworld 2020, had they run.
Arnold & Son Nebula 38 in stainless steel
Arnold & Son’s Nebula first appeared in 2016 in a 41.5 mm case (see A New Astral Body Is Born: The Arnold & Son Nebula), and then in 2019 in a more svelte 38 mm case came along, but only in red gold.
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Watches & Wonders 2020 would have seen this Citizen Group brand make its debut in the Carré Horlogers, where I would have been allowed to try on this svelte 38 mm Nebula in a stainless steel case, where it certainly would have perfectly fit my slim wrist.
The big appeal of the Nebula 38 is the full view of the symmetrical movement through the front of the watch: almost explicit in nature, the twin spring barrels, crown bridge, balance bridge, gear train bridges, and more are on full, fascinating display.
Quick Facts Arnold & Son Nebula 38 steel
Case: 38 x 8.91 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Caliber A&S5101, skeletonized, 90 hours of power reserve provided by twin spring barrels; 3 Hz/21,600 vph
Functions: hours, minutes, (off-center) small seconds
Urwerk UR-111C TT
In September 2018 Urwerk introduced a watch that pushed the boundaries of its already edgy design and mechanics called the UR-111C, proving that you don’t have to do the same thing repeatedly to be successful. The UR-111C is only the second Urwerk timepiece to feature a linear time display, and it is all sorts of futuristic cool.
The UR-111C is a descendant of the UR-CC1 King Cobra, the brand’s first linear time-display model, which broke the already broken mold of Urwerk. While the UR-111C shares the concept of a linear display, the execution is drastically different, adding layers of complication and innovation.
The UR-111C displays time linearly, with minutes in both diagonal and quasi-retrograde displays and a jump hour – but not linear jump hours, rather displayed in a pod bay in line with the minutes. A second display of minutes is at the right of the central minute cylinder, adding another way to read the time in a more precise way.
The running seconds are no longer linearly indicated but the result of an industry first utilizing an optical fiber image conduit. Also, instead of hiding the works underneath a cover plate to display the numerals, the entire assembly is highlighted in a rectangular “porthole.”
But the crowning jewel of the entire watch is the user interface. On the UR-111C a roller replaces a crown, presenting a very different way to interact with a mechanical watch movement. The roller set into the center of the case provides smooth operational control without altering the silhouette of the case shape.
Keeping the space-age form from extra protrusions (Urwerk’s delightful crowns are generally rather substantial) ensures that the aesthetic feels cleaner and more refined.
And now the UR-111C comes in a two-tone (“TT”) aesthetic comprising black PVD and stainless steel.
Quick Facts Urwerk UR-111C
Case: 42 x 46 x 15 mm, stainless steel and black PVD
Movement: automatic Caliber UR-111C, 4 Hz/28,800 vph, 48-hour power reserve
Functions: jumping hours, retrograde linear minutes, secondary digital minutes, digital hacking seconds
Limitation: 25 pieces
Price: CHF 130,000
Urwerk UR-100 GM
In the fall of 2019, Urwerk’s UR-100 arrived on the scene, a brand-new variation on 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 in a 20-minute time frame.
Aside from the additional space-age functionality, the UR-100 GM also embodies something else: a bit of nostalgia for the early work of Urwerk as displayed in the case visuals.
“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.
The UR-100 GM is now available with a gunmetal finish in a limited edition of 25 pieces.
Quick Facts Urwerk UR-100 GM
Case: 41 x 49.7 x 14 mm, titanium and stainless steel with gunmetal PVD finish
Movement: automatic Caliber UR 12.01, 4 Hz/28,800 vph, 48-hour power reserve
Functions: satellite hours and minutes, distance around the earth at the equator in 20 minutes; orbital distance of the earth in 20 minutes
Limitation: 25 pieces
Price: $51,000 / CHF 48,000
HYT H5 Blue Fluid
HYT continues to simplify and distill its unique, patented, liquid time-telling display, and the H5 is the newest variation on the theme.
H5 Blue Fluid combines various shades of grey – anthracite on the hour ring and flange and a visible gunmetal-colored bridge above the unique bellows, for example – with a dynamic blue for the hours and minutes (it is read like a one-handed watch). That display has even more going for it than usual with a ring of Super-LumiNova underneath and a neoralite hour ring securing the numerals next to it.
Quick Facts HYT H5 Blue Fluid
Case: 48.8 x 20.8 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manual winding Caliber 501 with patented micro fluidic model, 4 Hz/28,800 vph, 65-hour power reserve
Functions: fluid hours and minutes, seconds; power reserve indication
Limitation: 25 pieces
H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Tourbillon Concept
It’s been five years since Moser presented it first puritanical Concept model featuring a dial with neither markers nor logo. And to say that the idea was successful is an understatement – we have since seen a flurry of Concept models in myriad variations since then: time only, perpetual calendar, and (the now-obligatory) tourbillon.
Celebrating these five years, the Schaffhausen-based brand introduces three more limited editions – two time-only models and a tourbillon – outfitted with Moser’s unique and simply gorgeous fumé-style dials.
Pause for a moment to consider these gorgeous dials, which Moser has consistently released in fairly unusual and daring colors.
The tourbillon comes with the famous Funky Blue dial, until now not seen in the Endeavour family, while the smaller time only with diamonds comes in a deep red and the larger with plain bezel also in Funky Blue.
Quick Facts Moser Endeavour Tourbillon Concept
Case: 40 x 10.7 mm, white gold, red gold or stainless steel
Dial: Funky Blue
Movement: automatic Caliber HMC 804 with one-minute flying tourbillon, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, three-day power reserve, double hairspring
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 50 pieces in each metal