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Designing time: The best watches of 2018

Designing time: The best watches of 2018

In an age where watchmaking technology is so advanced, ateliers are now in a bold race towards new horological extremes, writes Madeline Hoskin.

With the rise of smart watches and wearable tech, a big question mark has loomed over the future of fine watchmaking. How can luxury watches adopt new technologies while maintaining their allure and incomparable craftsmanship? It’s a question that every atelier has tackled in their own way, and this has resulted in the production of some truly remarkable creations.

Hybrid creativity

The in-house team at Frédérique Constant, for example, have developed the world’s first “3.0” watch. Their FC- 750 Hybrid Manufacture incorporates both mechanical and electronic elements, and while the overlap of the two is still rather conservative, it holds vast potential for the future. Along with a classic aesthetic, automatic calibre and 42-hour power reserve, the electronic component can sync with a smartphone, allowing wearers to track their activity via the Hybrid app with the simple push of a button.

This in no way detracts from the brand’s traditional offering, proven by the release of its latest Classic Worldtimer Manufacture. Featuring a statement alligator strap and timeless design, powered by the FC-718 calibre, it cleanly and precisely tracks time across 24 global cities; a function perfected for the modern traveller.

A new type of ‘smart watch’

For many brands, however, the pursuit of modern relevance is less ‘smart’-focused and more about pushing designs harder to expand the expectations of what a watch can be. Indeed, Corum has shown that some of the best innovation can come from tweaking longstanding practices, with the new Golden Bridge Round 43 taking the collection’s baguette-shaped movement and reworking it into a circular face.

Bell & Ross has also revisited some of its most applauded designs, pushing them to their technical limits. The diver collection received a makeover with the release of the BR03-92 Diver. Water-resistant to 300 metres, the design boasts a cleaner dial and a more compact body.

Leveraging the hype around its first translucent timepiece in 2016, Bell & Ross has also released the BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon. This timepiece is carved from five blocks of transparent sapphire. The process of grinding and polishing this material is a sublime display of craftsmanship, but to then imbue it with striking hints of colour that lure the eye towards the piece’s impressive skeletonised mechanism … now that is truly modern thinking.

This article originally appeared in volume 30 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

WATCHES FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: CORUM GOLDEN BRIDGE ROUND 39, BELL & ROSS BR03-92 DIVER BRONZE, BELL & ROSS BR-X1 SKELETON TOURBILLON, FRÉDÉRIQUE CONSTANT CLASSIC WORLDTIMER MANUFACTURE