Any visitor to Franck Muller’s vast headquarters in Genthod, adjacent to Geneva, will vouch for the technical depth this manufacture exhibits throughout the facility. Case after case of watches set with tourbillons and multiple complications testify to decades of watchmaking with a distinctive style, typically built into the brand’s trademark Cintrée Curvex-shaped case.
But there’s much more to Franck Muller than its range of Master Bankers, large tourbillons and jaw-dropping skeleton models. Few watchmakers can match the wide-ranging fluency the brand also demonstrates year after year with its gem-set collections.
Franck Muller has again paired its technical chops with its gem-setting expertise with the release of the new Double Mystery Peony, which combines gemstone setting and its enchanting Double Mystery time display system.
In the Double Mystery collection, Franck Muller replaces watch hands with two rotating discs, each with an arrow-shaped indicator. Patented in 1998, the technique allows Franck Muller to experiment by setting a colorful spectrum of gemstones across and atop of the two rotating discs.
In this latest Double Mystery Peony, Franck Muller sets 662 diamonds and colored gemstones (4.87 carats) on each dial, all shaped and patterned across the dial to recall the namesake bloom. The watches, powered by an automatic movement topped with the Double Mystery complication, are offered in white gold and yellow gold and in 42mm and 39mm cases. Price: $88,700
As Nomos carefully expanded its sports watch offerings in recent years, the German watchmaker has deftly balanced its traditional minimalist tenets with enhanced water-resistance and anti-shock requirements.
Collectors welcomed those sports models with open wrists. Nomos had finally combined its clean dial design spirit with a tougher and larger case design that sported a serious 300 meters of water resistance – all with a sleek steel bracelet.
This week Nomos expands its sports offerings with a new Club Sport Neomatik 42 Date Blue. As the name hints, the watch features a new, galvanized blue sunburst dial, which adds a new option to the black-dialed original.
But perhaps more critically, the debut highlights a new integrated steel bracelet that is not only more traditional in style than the first steel bracelet, it also likely enhances its acceptance to sports enthusiasts possibly wary of the original’s open lug design.
Nomos customized the bracelet for this debut, creating a classic brushed and polished three-link design with a folding safety clasp that sits right up against the case. Unlike the earlier bracelet, this one doesn’t allow any wrist to show between the case and the links.
The handsome sunburst dial is set with white hands that glow blue and bold in the dark. As on the earlier models, Nomos equips the stem with a red ring that alerts the wearer if the crown is not tightened. Inside Nomos places its patented DUW 6101 date caliber from the Nomos Glashütte neomatik series. In part due to its thinness (at 3.6mm), it is well protected by the case, even with the clear sapphire caseback.
IWC adds two Ceratanium models to its Top Gun collection, and each debut also represents a specific technical breakthrough for the Schaffhausen-based watchmaker.
One of the pair, the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Top Gun Ceratanium, includes a Timezoner complication, marking the first time IWC has placed its unique world time display system into a Top Gun watch. The second debut, The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Ceratanium, marks the debut of IWC’s first Ceratanium bracelet.
You may recall that IWC introduced its black Ceratanium titanium-ceramic alloy in 2017 on its Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “50 Years Aquatimer.” IWC then added the proprietary alloy to the Top Gun collection two years later in the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium.
IWC explains that Ceratanium combines titanium’s inherent lightweight and strength with a hardness and scratch-resistance similar to ceramic. The alloy is also skin-friendly and highly resistant to corrosion. Plus, the material is black, which makes for a perfect livery hue on any adventure or sports watch.
The Perpetual Calendar
IWC places its excellent 52615 caliber with Pellaton winding system (visible through the tinted sapphire caseback) into the new Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Ceratanium (Ref. IW503604). The watch’s two barrels, in combination with its Pellaton winding system, offer an impressive seven-day power reserve.
The perpetual calendar is a complication that IWC has pioneered over decades. This example features a mechanical program that automatically recognizes different month lengths and leap years and will require no correction until 2100. The watch’s moon phase display, which depicts the moon as it is seen from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, is also unusually precise. It will deviate by one day after 577.5 years, according to IWC.
Price: $48,000 (Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Ceratanium, ref. IW503604). A limited edition of 150.
As noted earlier, IWC’s new Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Top Gun Ceratanium (Ref. IW395505) is the first model in the collection with the Timezoner complication. The technology makes it particularly easy to set the watch to a different time zone. When pressing down and rotating the bezel, the watch’s hour hand, the 24-hour display and the date will move forwards or backwards in one-hour increments.
IWC has printed this dial in grey and generously coated the numbers 12, 3, 6 and 9 with a luminescent material. Here IWC uses its 82760 caliber, also with the Pellaton winding system, which boasts a healthy sixty hours of power reserve. The wearer can view the movement via the watch’s tinted sapphire glass caseback.
Price: $16,900 (Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Top Gun Ceratanium, ref. IW395505). A limited edition of 500.
Last year producer and talent scout Swizz Beatz challenged De Bethune to create a “totally different Dream Watch 5.” This week, De Bethune debuted its response to that challenge with a watch worthy of the futuristic Dream Series.
The new De Bethune Dream Watch 5 Tourbillon Season 1 is a spectacular deltoid-shaped, blued-titanium and sapphire wrist rocket regulated by a De Bethune high-velocity tourbillon.
The inventive Swiss company, lead by pioneering watchmaker Denis Flageollet, has built on its own Dream Watch legacy by refining its pointedly curved Dream Watch 5 case, first seen in 2014, into a skeletal sculpture that both showcases an open-set dial while also protecting it with two dramatic blued titanium bridges.
As De Bethune points out, there is nothing straight or flat about this latest Dream Watch 5 case, which is composed of seven different sapphire components ingeniously embedded into a polished blue titanium frame.
At the center, gripped by the watch’s titanium exoskeleton, is a three-dimensional orb that indicates the moon phases. Adjacent, and just below the blue bridges, the wearer eyes the hours and minutes directly through a hand-cut cabochon-shaped crystal.
The back of the watch (below) is almost as dramatic, especially since the ultra-clear sapphire back seems to magnifying the beauty of De Bethune’s mirror-polished DB2149 high-speed tourbillon caliber. The 30-second tourbillon oscillates at 36,000 vibrations/hour, set just beneath a slightly blued sapphire window. See specifications below for additional details about this expertly engineered, highly tuned movement.
De Bethune notes that to enhance the interior of the DW5 Episode 1, it collaborates with Swiss engraver Michèle Rothen, who has ‘retouched’ each surface with added micro-detail and greater dimension.
The De Bethune Dream Watch 5 Tourbillon Season 1 is a ten-piece limited edition.
Specifications: De Bethune Dream Watch 5 Tourbillon ‘Season 1’
(Reference DW5TSB, a ten-piece limited edition)
Functions: Hours, minutes, central spherical moon-phase indication, 30-minute indication on the ultra-light silicon and titanium De Bethune tourbillon cage (appearing on the back).
Movement: DB2149 hand-wound, three positions (for winding, spherical moon phase and time setting), titanium balance-wheel with white gold inserts, De Bethune balance-spring with flat terminal curve, silicon escape-wheel, spherical moon-phase display accurate to within one lunar day every 1,112 years, De Bethune ultra-light silicon and titanium 30-second tourbillon, 36,000 vibrations/hour.
Dial: Blued grade-5 titanium aperture frame.
Case: 58mm by 47mm by 17mm tapered hand-polished and blued grade- 5 titanium, open-worked with sapphire blue inserts and hand-engraved motifs, cabochon-cut blue sapphire crown.
Bracelet: Blue canvas/leather with an additional rubber strap, titanium clasp with polished and blued titanium pin buckle.
Under a domed crystal, a visible bubble quickly separates a U-Boat watch from most other watches. As this bubble dances over the dial, it actually serves the purpose of accommodating temperature variations that might otherwise damage the watch with the expansion of the limpid liquid within.
The effect of the dance is amazing as the colorful U-Boat dials seems to leap out of the watch and project themselves onto the domed crystal, while the refraction effect mitigates any need for an anti-reflective coating.
The U-Boat Darkmoon is a full-sized watch with a crown-left position on its 44mm stainless steel and sapphire case. Inside is a Ronda 712.3 quartz movement powered by a quick-change battery that overcomes the problem of needing special equipment to change the power supply.
Water resistant to 50 meters, the U-Boat Darkmoon is available in a colorful array of dial options. Price: $1,420.
One caveat on owning this very cool quartz watch is that you do need to take care not to leave it in excessive heat or sunlight for too long as this may damage the watch – but that is sound advice for almost any watch.