Telling the time is no longer the sole function of a wristwatch. Today, one can navigate stormy seas, assess air currents, browse the web, send e-mails, and even juggle stock shares; the arrival of the smartwatch has revolutionized the luxury watch sector.
Seeking to merge art with science, many companies and famous names like Will-i-am are in collaborations with luxury brands such as Gucci. Other companies are creating their own technology; consider the Montblanc and its e-strap, which may be used with any traditional watch. The result is that craftsmanship and technology are combining to make simply spectacular watches and smart watches.
For 175 years, Swiss company Patek Philippe has played a key role in watch development. Pure ultra luxury, Patek Philippe watches include the industry’s most technologically complicated watches and the world’s most expensive watch, which sold at auction for $24 million in 2014.
To celebrate its 175th anniversary, the company unveiled the 5175 Grandmaster Chime, the most sophisticated watch Patek Philippe has built, to date. Possessing 20 complications across 2 dials, this masterpiece offers new features, such as a date repeater that chimes the date, state-of-the-art perpetual calendar and an acoustic alarm that sounds the time, all enclosed within an 18K rose-gold case.
Only seven 5175 Grandmaster Chime watches were produced. One was placed in the Patek Philippe museum and the remaining six were sold prior to production for $2.6 million each, solely through offer to current clients.
Patek’s new 5524 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time pays tribute to early aviators, including the Wright brothers and Charles Lindbergh. A masculine watch celebrating conquest of the skies, it features a time-zone function showing home time and location time. A patented safety lock prevents accidental adjustments of the time setting. This triumph of design evokes the classic aviators’ timepiece while blending technology and contemporary elegance in a white-gold case and blue dial.
By far the most popular of all Patek watches is the ultra-thin, self-winding Perpetual Calendar. The company is re-launching this proven favorite in a design of unsurpassed elegance that emphasizes heritage and Art Deco combined with modernity. The cushion-shaped case contains a masterpiece of technology; its 275 individual parts include a 22K gold mini-rotor recessed into the plate to ensure impressive accuracy and precise timekeeping. A black, hand-stitched alligator strap and 18K yellow-gold buckle accompany the stately timepiece.
Equally technically complex are Breitling watches. Often described as instruments for professionals, these superb watches are made by a world leader in wrist chronographs. Breitling’s legendary Navitimer became the first wrist chronograph in space when it accompanied astronaut Scott Carpenter on an orbital flight aboard the Aurora 7 capsule.
Today, the Navitimer is the world’s oldest mechanical chronograph still in production—as popular today as it was when first launched, back in 1952. With an updated concept, this magnificent timepiece is used by most of the world’s elite pilots. In addition, it is associated with acclaimed air shows, such as Reno Air Races. The current, limited-edition version, Navitimer Caliber 01, features a transparent sapphire case back and a dial that incorporates a solid gold or sterling base. Practical, technical and highly sophisticated, these are watches that exude elegance. For those who want connectivity, Breitling offers the Caliber B55, a new generation, web-connected combination smartphone and chronograph.
The much-vaunted Apple Watch with smart technology burst onto the scene in 2015. Its sleek, contemporary design encompasses a wealth of functionality; users can customize the watch’s face, program meeting reminders, send messages, access maps and make phone calls. A revolutionary concept, it combines the traditional watch concept with web-based access. Shortly after the launch of the Apple Watch, other manufacturers quickly began playing catch-up and increasing their options in an effort to compete.
Data security is the hidden treasure in new smart watches designed by Italian jeweler Bvlgari. Its Diagono E Magnesium combines traditional craftsmanship with digital facility in an intelligent timepiece that includes special features to secure users’ data; Bvlgari defines it as a “wrist-vault” watch. Each watch incorporates a key required to open the secure Bvlgari smartphone application; this key is designed to reduce opportunities for hackers to access data associated with online purchases. Yet, the watch looks and feels like pure luxury.
The company offers its Diagono Magnesium as a pioneering, tangible smartwatch that meets contemporary requirements of tomorrow’s everyday wear within the increasingly blurred boundaries of a connected world.
Bvlgari believes other intelligent watches are functional objects lacking any real added value, objects more like a game console than a luxury timepiece.
Jean-Christophe Babin, president of the Bvlgari Group says, “The new Diagono Magnesium perfectly represents the duality of Bvlgari. A luxury watch brand with Italian origins symbolized by the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, artist and scientist, it has a unique manner of melding contemporary design with the best of Swiss watch-making expertise and the most advanced Swiss technologies, such as WISeKey. While certain brands offer watches subject to rapid obsolescence, we are offering a self-winding, sustainable luxury watch—like all Bvlgari luxury watches.”