By Steve Huyton

Distant galaxies and the thought of potential planets with life forms have fascinated astronomers for centuries. It has also inspired writers and filmmakers to re-imagine certain possibilities. Ultimately this has filtered into costume design and various accessories.

Within the world of horology, several brands are conceiving futuristic creations that display time differently. Their work offer a perfect balance of innovative design and traditional mechanical watch technology. Here are five brilliant examples that have an intergalactic aesthetic.

Azimuth Land Cruiser

The Land Cruiser was developed over four years and carries the DNA of its predecessor, the SP-1 Landship. This incarnation has a much more curvaceous façade and futuristic appearance.

The Azimuth Land Cruiser

For this particular piece, Azimuth has opted for a 316L stainless steel case rather instead of a titanium case. Functionally the watch features regulator hour and retrograde minute complications. Beneath the sleek façade lies a specially modified Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement with perlage finishing. This calibre comprises twenty-six jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28.800 vibrations per hour.

Gelfman IN-16 Nixie

The Gelfman IN-16 Nixie watch was officially nominated for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2022 in the “Petite Aiguille” category. In my opinion, this watch is a brilliant example of modernistic design.

The Gelfman IN-16 Nixie

The timepiece exudes masculine proportions and has a hand-polished sculpted stainless-steel case measuring 45.9mm x 47.8mm x 20.5mm. Time is displayed on two IN-16 Nixie tubes and is programmable via a PC or Mac App. Functionally the watch features hours, minutes, date and battery percentage indications. This device also has an accelerometer with gesture recognition.

Hublot MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System

The MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System is one of the most distinctive pieces Hublot of produced to date. Incredibly, this watch required five years of fastidious research and development to create.

The Hublot MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System

With 592 individual components, two linear weights, one inclined tourbillon and a circular power reserve, this is definitely a formidable piece. What makes it so remarkable is the open-worked architectural 3-D dial that is devoid of hands. Hours, minutes, seconds and dates are presented on anodized black aluminum cylinders. Beneath the titanium micro-blasted chassis is a sophisticated self-winding inclined tourbillon movement.

MB&F Horological Machine Nº11 Architect

MB&F is synonymous for the production of exquisite timepieces, and they don’t come much finer than the Horological Machine Nº11 Architect.

The MB&F HM11 Architect

The original concept was first introduced by acclaimed designer Eric Giroud in 2018. However, it was several years before the completed version was presented to the market. By comparison, this particular timepiece is smaller than previous models released by the brand.

Nevertheless, the futuristic spaceship-style Grade-5 titanium case is designed to make a bold impression. Powering the watch is a highly complicated 29-jewel mechanical hand-winding movement that is composed of 364 individual parts.


SEVENFRIDAY is a progressive Swiss brand that has gained a solid reputation within the watch industry for its modernistic designs. Recently the brand decided to incorporate 3-D print technology into its flagship models.

Three versions of the SevenFriday FreeDb

The FreeDb is a new release that utilizes a special polyamide (PA11 & PA12) normally associated with the medical, aerospace, and racing sectors.

Its unique textural qualities give the timepiece a futuristic aesthetic. Hour, minute and second indications are displayed on domed discs.

At the heart of the watch is a Swiss automatic Sellita SW300-1 movement. This mechanism comprises 26 jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour.

Steve Huyton is an industrial designer, illustrator and author who publishes Total Design Reviews

By Steve Huyton

For a long time, Chinese-made products have been unfairly dismissed as inferior quality or disposable products. Admittedly in a region as large as China, there is a broad spectrum ranging from substandard to superlative.

Nevertheless, tech giant Apple exclusively manufactures in this country and it hasn’t deterred consumers at all. Within the watch industry, the label Swiss-made still carries a lot of weight. However, there are a lot of brands like Ciga Design that are changing people’s perceptions.

This company shook the world of horology on its head by winning the Challenge Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2021 awards for the phenomenal Blue Planet.

The Ciga Design Central Tourbillon Mount Everest Homage Edition

For that reason, I was delighted to hear of another formidable piece called the Central Tourbillon Mount Everest Homage Edition. This watch was unveiled in 2023 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of mankind’s conquest of Mount Everest.

I’ve always been fascinated with innovative design and that was the catalyst for writing books about this subject. My philosophy is to select based on creative merit rather than brand status. This strategy I believe is more advantageous for the reader because they are offered increased diversity.

That’s why I’m very pleased that brands such as Ciga Design are getting the recognition they deserve. The business is the brainchild of multi-disciplinary designer Zhang Jianmin who specializes in fields like architecture, graphics and product design. After twenty-six years of commercial experience, he decided to launch his own watch brand. In my opinion, the Central Tourbillon Mount Everest Homage Edition is their most ambitious creation to date.

Hilary Quote

Ciga Design have set the tone for this watch by using a quote from mountaineer Sir Edmund Hilary: “It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

These words are very inspiring and captivate the essence of the Central Tourbillon Mount Everest Homage Edition.

Fortunately, I got to inspect one of these amazing timepieces and was incredibly impressed with the overall quality. Aesthetically this watch has a distinctive Avant-Garde appearance normally found in Haute Horlogerie watches that retail for multiple times the price.

The proportions have also been well considered. With a 45mm titanium case, this piece sits comfortably on the wrist and is suitable to wear with formal/casual attire.

What makes the Central Tourbillon Mount Everest Homage Edition so special is the meticulous attention to detail. Remarkably, Ciga Design’s chief designer personally embarked on a journey to the base of Mount Everest to source rock for the dial of the watch. This creates a 3D texture that perfectly frames the exposed central tourbillon carriage.

Other incredible characteristics include ice axe-style hands engraved with the signatures of both Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norway. Ciga Design has also added a nice touch by including the four world flags of Britain, Nepal, India and the United Nations. Overall the minimalistic composition is highly effective and the quality first rate.

Beneath the architectural façade lies a very sophisticated in-house customized hand-winding movement. The Calibre CD-05 comprises 33 jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour.

This exquisite mechanism is visibly showcased via the sapphire crystal exhibition engraved case back. Functionally the Central Tourbillon Mount Everest Homage Edition features hours, minutes and seconds. The watch also has a very impressive power reserve of 120 hours and is water resistant to a depth of thirty meters.

As a perfect finale, the Central Tourbillon Mount Everest Homage Edition is presented on a textured rubber black strap with a complimentary titanium buckle. With a retail of $3,600, I believe this watch is very competitively priced.

Steve Huyton is an industrial designer, illustrator and author who publishes Total Design Reviews


Ulysse Nardin expands its hands-free Freak universe with the new Freak S Nomad, which places a thoroughly modern, dual-oscillator flying carousel movement atop a hand-cut diamond guilloché pattern hour-disc dial finished in sand-colored CVD.

The Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad

Set in a 45mm titanium and carbon-fiber case, the new dual-oscillator Caliber UN-251 Manufacture movement is a flying carousel that mimics the outline of a spacecraft. This particular craft not only powers and regulates the watch, but, as with all Freak movements, it serves as the watch’s minute indicator while it rotates around its own axis.

For enhanced efficiency and stability, Ulysse Nardin treats the movement’s dual oscillators and silicon balance wheels (inclined at 20 degrees) with a diamond coating called DIAMonSIL.

The watchmaker then coats the movement’s bridges with an anthracite-hued PVD and packs the minute hand with plenty of luminous light blue SuperLumiNova.

To wind the watch, Ulysse Nardin fits its own Grinder ultra-efficient winding system into the back, powering a full seventy-two-hour power reserve. The watchmaker calls Grinder “an automatic system that’s twice as efficient as a traditional automatic system.”

Ulysse Nardin is offering the Freak S Nomad as a limited edition of ninety-nine, each offered with a choice of two straps: one anthracite rubber ‘ballistic’ and the other in matte-finished anthracite alligator with sand-colored calfskin leather accents.

Ulysse Nardin has filed more than twenty patents for the Freak since 2001. You might recall that last year the watchmaker took home the Iconic Watch Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève for its Freak One. 

Price: $148,300.

Chopard’s wide-ranging Watches and Wonders 2024 debuts include a premiere, ongoing titanium chronograph within the high-flying Alpine Eagle collection, plus a beautiful forest green-dialed model that now enhances the dressy L.U.C XPS series.

The new Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono

Alpine Eagle 

Chopard’s sporty Alpine Eagle collection now includes the 44mm Alpine Eagle XL Chrono, the watchmaker’s first serially produced titanium chronograph within the collection. Though Chopard did previously offer two high-frequency Alpine Eagle watches using the lightweight, anti corrosive metal, the new chronograph joins the collection full-time.

With a new Rhône Blue dial color, the watch retains the Alpine Eagle’s characteristic ‘eagle’s iris’ pattern dial, meant to evoke both the strength of the namesake bird and the beauty of the Alps.  Chopard says this particular hue is inspired by the Rhône river, which originates in the Alps.

Chopard’s superb 03.05-C chronometer-certified flyback chronograph movement.

Powering the chronograph is Chopard’s superb 03.05-C chronometer-certified flyback chronograph movement, which boasts a sixty-hour power reserve and is the subject of three technical patents. Its unidirectional gear drive system reduces energy loss, according to Chopard, while also ensuring rapid automatic winding. In addition, a vertical clutch ensures accurate time-measurement starts.

As with all watches sold from within the Alpine Eagle collection, part of the proceeds from sales of this model will be donated to the Alpine Eagle Foundation, which aims to protect the white-tailed eagle population around Lake Geneva, among many other environmental causes. 

The watch, Ref. 298609-3008, is a Chopard Boutique exclusive. Price: $25,000. 

L.U.C XPS Forest Green 

Chopard’s L.U.C collection debuts have been highlights of many previous Watches and Wonders exhibitions, and the latest entry, the L.U.C XPS Forest Green, is no exception. 

With its retro sector-type dial, the new with oozes vintage charm. Teamed with a movement from  Chopard’s well-known L.U.C series ( the automatic L.U.C 96.12-L caliber), the watch combines an ultra-thin profile with both traditional and very modern touches.

The vintage-looking satin-brushed dark green dial is achieved, ironically, by use of a modern PVD treatment.

The 40mm by 7.2mm steel case is very modern too. It is composed of in Lucent Steel, Chopard’s own alloy produced with a recycling rate of at least 80%. The movement is an ultra-thin caliber measuring just 3.30 mm thick.

It features a bidirectional 22-karat gold micro-rotor and twin stacked barrels, called Chopard Twin Technology, that provides a sixty-five-hour power reserve.

Price: $11,800. 


The new TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph, TAG Heuer’s highlight Watches and Wonders 2024 debut, pairs the square Monaco case with a wholly new split-seconds chronograph caliber.

The TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph features an all-titanium TH81-00 mechanical split-seconds chronograph caliber.

Made entirely of titanium, the watch’s TH81-00 movement is the lightest automatic chronograph movement ever created by the watchmaker, which teamed with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier to create the caliber.

While Heuer dominated sports timing, particularly automotive racing, during much of the 20th century with its ground-breaking split-second chronograph pocket watches and timers, the Le Locle watchmaker had not previously offered a mechanical wristwatch with the same function. (In 1989, TAG Heuer introduced a quartz split-seconds chronograph wristwatch that became a favorite of racing legends such as Ayrton Senna, Gerhard Berger and Michael Schumacher.)

“In developing this new watch we spent months researching complications, and quickly knew it had to be a chronograph, and particularly with a split-second function, which is the queen of chronographs,” explains Nicholas Biebuyck, TAG Heuer’s Heritage Director. A split-seconds function is capable of measuring two separate time intervals concurrently.

“We found documentation dating to 1889 that advertises the Heuer brand as specializing in the rattrapante platform. As it turns out, we had never made a (mechanical) chronograph with a split second for the wrist,” he adds. 

No compromise

To rectify that somewhat surprising omission, Biebuyck and Carole Forestier-Kasapi, TAG Heuer’s movements director, worked with TAG Heuer’s technical team to create the watchmaker’s first wrist rattrapante “with no compromise.”

The team started with a high-frequency 5-Hz movement to enhance split-second accuracy, and quickly determined that to make a highly wearable, lightweight and ergonomically impressive debut wrist rattrapante, it would need to be made of titanium.

“The reason we chose titanium for the case was because we wanted to create something particularly comfortable to wear, but we then extended this to the movement as well,” adds Forestier-Kasapi.

TAG Heuer offers various titanium-cased Monaco chronographs, though all are powered with traditionally manufactured movements. 

“I cannot think of an example where we have made an entire movement in titanium previously. Certainly not in a commercially available product,” says Biebuyck. Even when the all sides of the 41mm by 15.2mm case and the movement are combined, the TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph weighs a wispy 85 grams.

The new watch enhances the timepiece’s overall novelty with extensive application of sapphire to the case. The clarity created by the clear sapphire offers an open view into the titanium Calibre TH81-00 movement.

The back offers an unobstructed view of the signature checkerboard pattern on the center bridge and the fine-brushed balance wheel bridge. From the edges of the case we can also see the movement’s two column wheels and decorated bridges.

TAG Heuer offers two Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph models. A red variation with black DLC coating is inspired by TAG Heuer’s long history in the world of professional automotive racing.

A blue model pays tribute to the original color code of the Heuer Monaco. Here, gradient blue dial arches transition from light blue, an effect created through a painstaking anodizing process.

Price: CHF 165,000.