Oh I’ve been a busy old ape this week – jet-setting across the globe to attend Watches and Wonders 2015. Based in Hong Kong, the third-time annual event is a prestigious gathering of watchmakers from around the world. Naturally I attended, to peruse the fascinating array of mechanical watches, skeleton watches, pocket watches and maybe learn a thing or two.
I’ll be honest, I had tried to attend the previous year – but with a strict a ‘no pets’ policy, I was politely rebuffed. This year, I considered donning my best hat and shaving the backs of my hands, but after explaining my position as a respected collector of unusual watches in Great Britain (who also delivers worldwide, remember) I was warmly welcomed to the event.
And what an event it was! From the classic to the futuristic, every watchmaker showcased their very own take on timepiece chic, with a number of designers debuting watches of an exceedingly high degree.
Watches to Explore the World With
The masters over at Jaeger-LeCoultre began by showing the world how it’s done – with the long-awaited unveiling of the latest model in the Geophysic collection. Innovative and expert makers of mechanical watches, Jaeger-LeCoultre have been supplying world explorers with watches for hundreds of years, and the latest release is exceptionally breath-taking. With its intricately-detailed world map on the face, not only is it stunning, it’s resilient too – capable of withstanding even the strong magnetic fields of the North Pole.
For those of you whose budgets might not stretch as far north as a Jaeger-LeCoultre might require, but still fancy channelling your inner-explorer, I have just the ticket. This Excelsior Titanic Mechanical Watch is worthy of any world-roaming gentleman and has an attractive stainless steel case, with rich brown strap. It also harnesses the tell-tale feature of skeleton watches, by proudly presenting its inner-workings through a cutaway in the face.
Diamonds Steal the Limelight
Back in Hong Kong, Piaget brought us the Limelight Stella; a truly stunning piece that flaunted a large, moon-phase complication that was decorated with a discreet spattering of diamonds. At well over $20,000 it was considered a steal at the show, but for those budgets with slightly less sparkle I can offer you the Vita Tectonic.
A glamorous and feminine piece from my collection of ladies’ watches, this watch boasts a subtle, numberless dial with moving, crystal hour markers. The silver-coloured, jewellery-clasp strap is dainty and delicate, making it a splendid addition to any stylish wrist.
My final stop at the event left me torn; it was terribly testing but also displayed some truly wondrous watches. You see, I, Weird Ape, am ashamed to admit that I’m utterly petrified of spiders. Yes, living in a Congolese jungle was a nightmare and this week I relived that nightmare as I passed by the stand from watcher makers Robert Dubais, which was – you guessed it – arachnid-themed.
The Excalibur Spider, the latest ‘Pocket Time Instrument’ from Robert Dubais, was well and truly weaving its web at Watches and Wonders. An openwork pocket watch, this was one watch that has cemented the coming trend for skeleton watches; with its hollowed out face a characteristic display, typical of the Excalibur collection.
If you aren’t too sure about keeping a spider in your pocket, you’re a sensible man. My range of pocket watches also has the answer – I’ll point you in the direction of the Steampunk Pocket Watch instead. With its steely gunmetal-grey case, exposed skeleton mechanics and regal Roman numerals, it looks just as fabulous - but is far less fear-inducing.
I had a tremendous time at Watches and Wonders 2015 and already I can’t wait for next year. I also ate like a king in Hong Kong and have returned home with not only a renewed adoration for unusual watches, but a delicious recipe for Chinese-style banana fritters. I’ll let you know how I get on.