During its first appearance at Watches and Wonders in Geneva, which this year concluded on April 2, Frederique Constant unveiled a special thirty-fifth anniversary edition of its Classic Tourbillon Manufacture.
Offered in a now-smaller 39mm rose gold case and sporting a beautiful anthracite grey sun-brushed dial with gold hands, the new watch is a cleanly designed model that, at $27,595, is among the most ‘affordable’ in-house Swiss Made tourbillon-regulated watches available, a distinction in line with this Geneva manufacturer’s long-held aim to create high-value luxury watches.
As noted, this latest example of the Frederique Constant Classic Tourbillon Manufacture measures 39mm in diameter, the new size for the Classic Manufacture series. Previous examples of the watch measured 42mm in diameter. The three-hand watch continues to be powered by the in-house automatic FC-980 caliber, first developed in 2008.
Also celebrating its thirty-fifth anniversary, Frédérique Constant offers the watch as an anniversary model in a limited edition of 150, each one individually numbered. In keeping with the brand’s own traditions, the tourbillon is exposed at the 6 o’clock position.
Frédérique Constantfits the movement with a silicon escapement wheel and anchor, which means the owner will benefit from a non-magnetic movement unaffected by variations in temperature.
The watchmaker also engraves each watch’s individual serial number on the rim of the sapphire caseback.
Through the back, the owner can eye (and display) the FC-980 caliber’s fine decor, which includes beveling, beading, circular graining, straight-grained flanks and mirror polishing.
More than two decades after releasing the groundbreaking Freak, Ulysse Nardin introduces the Freak One, a version of the flying carrousel movement watch that revives its three signature characteristics: no dial, no hands and no crown.
However, the new watch now benefits from the many technical advances Ulysse Nardin devised during the past twenty years (Note that since 2001, Ulysse Nardin has filed more than twenty patents for the Freak).
Thus, the new Freak One is regulated by a silicon hairspring (which Ulysse Nardin introduced in 2008) and is regulated with an escapement treated with the synthetic diamond and silicon plasma treatment called DIAMonSIL, which Ulysse Nardin added to the Freak in 2007.
A more recent technical flourish, the proprietary automatic Grinder system, means the Freak One is much more easily wound.
The system is twice as efficient as a traditional winding system and contributes to the long seventy-two-hour power reserve of the UN-240 manufacture caliber inside.
Aesthetically, the new Freak One combines several favorite Freak designs from the past. These include the notched bezel of the original 2001 Freak, the open gear train seen on the 2013 Freak Cruiser, plus the high-legibility of the 2018 Freak Vision.
As a sort of tribute watch to its original model, the new Freak One glows with beautifully finished rose gold movement components and a rose gold bezel, all contrasting luxuriously with the 44mm black DLC-coated titanium case.
The lightweight metal plus a newly integrated 30% recycled textured rubber strap (one of three included) combine to make the Freak One quite comfortable on the wrist.
Specifications: Ulysse Nardin Freak One
Caliber: UN-240 Manufacture automatic movement, 72-hour power reserve, frequency 3 Hz (21,600 V/H) hours, minutes displayed via flying carrousel movement rotating around its own axis. Silicon oversized oscillator and balance spring DIAMonSIL treatment to escapement, Grinder automatic winding system with blades technology, rose-gold bridges with Super-LumiNova, Black engraved sunray pattern on the barrel cover.
Case:44mm by 12mm black DLC-coated titanium with satin finish, rose gold 5N bezel, black titanium case back with sapphire insert, water-resistant to 30 meters.
Bracelets: Black rubber ‘ballistic’ textured strap, black matte alligator leather strap and two-tone rubber strap with black DLC-coated titanium deployant buckle.Rubber straps made of 30% recycled rubber from production waste by BIWI, Switzerland.
Arriving amid a strong set of debuts, including a highly jeweled Grandmaster Chime and the first annual calendar within the Aquanaut Luce collection (to be covered in upcoming posts), this newest adaptation of Patek Philippe’s Travel Time dual-time display is paired with an original display of local time and home time via two center hands turning on a 24-hour circle.
Patek Philippe has used similar 24-hour displays, but most have been seen on watches from the distant past. In the early twentieth century Patek Philippe made a series of Chronometro Gondolo watches for the Brazilian retailer Gondolo & Labouriau.
But for the new watch, Patek Philippe flipped the original design. Instead of placing the noontime indication at the more traditional 6 o’clock position, Patek Philippe opts to update (and, to many, simplify) the display by placing noon at the top of the dial where, it seems, more wearers look when checking the time.
In another nod to simplicity and aesthetics, Patek Philippe has also replaced the traditional in-case correction pushers for local time with a new patented correction system that allows the user to pull out the crown.
When pulled out to the intermediate position, the local time can be adjusted backwards and forwards in one-hour increments.
To accomplish these new features, Patek Philippe built new caliber 31-260 PS FUS 24H. The movement is an update to Patek Philippe’s 31-260 ultra-thin self-winding base caliber from 2011, which here includes a 24-hour mechanism and a Travel Time mechanism.
In 2021, Patek Philippe further enhanced the initial caliber (then placed into the In-Line Perpetual Calendar Reference 5236P-001) with a new operating frequency of 4 Hz, a twenty per cent increase in barrel-spring torque, a mini-rotor in platinum and a reduction wheel that uncouples the self-winding mechanism when the watch is being manually wound.
The watch’s 42mm rose-gold case nicely complements a sharp-looking blue dial that Patek Philippe has set with contemporary, high-relief rose gold numerals, hour markers and five-minute cabochons.
The watch is also notable for its generous use of luminous material within the rose-gold, syringe-type hands, the hour markers and the numerals.
More New in 2023
As noted above, Patek Philippe for 2023 adds an annual calendar to the Aquanaut Luce to create Annual Calendar Reference 5261R-001 ($61,506), the first annual calendar in the Aquanaut collection.
Finished with a very nice blue-gray dial and attached to a matching strap, the 39.9mm rose gold watch enriches Patek Philippe’s range of complicated ladies’ watches.
Also for 2023, Patek Philippe adds a blue-gray sunburst dial and a navy-blue grained calfskin strap to its distinctive Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Chronograph Reference 5924G-001 ($75,699) and adds a khaki green lacquered dial to the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Chronograph Reference 5924G-010 ($79,699).
Patek Philippe also updates its Calatrava references 6007G-001, 6007G-010 and 6007G-011 with a new modern dial style featuring black dials and three types of finish with an embossed carbon pattern.
Each also receives new color accents in on their respective dials and straps: yellow (6007G-001), red (6007G-010) or sky blue (6007G-011). Each is priced at $37,850.
Patek Philippe also expanded its range of watches for women with the new Calatrava self-winding Reference 4997/200R-001, a rose gold, diamond-set watch ($38,441) now sporting a rich purple wave dial pattern created by fifty layers of translucent lacquer.
Pictures don’t do this dial justice as the lacquer finish here is extraordinary.
One year after debuting the world premiere Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante, Parmigiani Fleurier this year follows up with another premiere jumping hand watch, the Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante.
The new watch echoes last year’s GMT by performing a classic timing function with a new, simpler operation. Where that earlier model allowed for a hand-based display of GMT time, the new watch allows the user to check elapsed minutes on-demand via a second minute hand hidden directly under the primary minute hand.
Instead of turning a calibrated bezel (as on a dive watch), the user simply presses a pusher to move the second, gold hour hand to the desired time.
With the Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante, it’s the movement’s control of the second minute hand that performs the elapsed time display, not the user’s bezel-read calculation. The elapsed time is indicated when the primary minute hand reaches – and covers – the gold minute hand.
This display can be used for any fine calibration of the minutes over a specific period of time, or for any occasion or event requiring measurement of the minutes count, such as for cooking times or game times.
To use the function, the wearer can move the rose gold hand in either five-minute increments (via the pusher at 8’o’clock) or one-minute increments (via the pusher positioned at 10 o’clock). Once the two hands meet and superimpose, the period of time to be measured will have elapsed.
At any time, the wearer can return the gold hand to its position hidden underneath the rhodium-plated primary minute hand by pressing the crown-integrated pusher, in a similar way to the split-seconds function.
As on last year’s Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante, this new hand-based time counting function is only visible when activated.
The movement that makes these functions possible, new caliber PF 052, is powered by an elegant rose-gold micro-rotor and is fully visible from the back of the 40mm steel case.
The functionality here is of course paired with the watchmaker’s high-end workmanship and finishing. These include a hand-cut Grain d’Orge guilloché dial in a sand grey color and 18-karat gold hands and markers. As on all Tonda PF models, the knurled bezel is platinum.
The new Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante is a welcome, ingenious addition to Parmigiani Fleurier’s new series of hand-based complication displays.
Also new in 2023
In addition to the headliner Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante, Parmigiani Fleurier debuts a platinum-cased Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon with a stunning Milano blue dial ($163,700), a premiere all-platinum Tonda PF Microrotor model with time and date only ($92,800), and a trio of perpetual models displaying time using the Islamic, Chinese and Gregorian calendars.
The watchmaker also adds a rose-gold edition of last year’s premiere PF GMT Rattrapante, complete with a rich Grain d’Orge guilloché dial in Milano blue,($65,500) plus a rose-gold edition of its always impressive Tonda PF Split-Seconds Chronograph ($169,100).
Bell & Ross pairs a brilliant sun-ray-finished green dial with its third all-gold BR 05 model. The watch joins two equally colorful Bell & Ross debuts during Watches and Wonders 2023.
While gold cases are still a rarity within the Bell & Ross BR 05 series, this debut makes it clear that the BR 05’s sophisticated rounded-square case and integrated bracelet works just as well in this luxurious guise as it does in its original steel dress.
The dressier satin-brushed 40mm gold case and bracelet plays well with the deep green sunray dial as light reflects from each element to influence the other. Thus we see hints of green along the inner bezel ring and on the gold-coated markers and hands. Bell & Ross applied numerous layers of tinted green vanish atop a sun ray-finished dial plate to obtain the dial’s glimmering effect, which can seem to change hue whenever the light changes.
Bell & Ross coats all the hands (except for the seconds-hands), numerals and indices in C3 SuperLuminova and also polishes the edges around what is largely a satin-finished case. Via the sapphire crystal caseback the wearer can eye the automatic Sellita-based BR-CAL.321 movement sporting a gilded oscillating weight.
As a BR 05 model, the new Green Gold edition highlights it integrated bracelet, who here is satin-brushed gold with polished small links. Still, buyers can opt for an alligator-leather strap—a first for the BR 05 series.
Price: $22,600 on the alligator strap and $34,000 on the gold bracelet.
Debuting at Watches and Wonders 2023 alongside the BR 05 Green Gold is this BR 03-93 GMT, now adorned with contemporary blue and grey coloring.
On the dial the blue displays daytime hours and grey indicates night-time hours. Bell & Ross pairs the BR 03-93 GMT Blue with a dressy blue Nappa Soft calf leather strap with tone-on-tone stitching. The watch’s blue steel bezel echoes its glimmering blue sunburst dial. Price: $4,200.
The watch’s opaline silver dial contrasts nicely with the bronze case, especially alongside the red-tinted bronze shades. The unidirectional rotating bezel is also finished with polished bronze and fitted with a brown aluminum ring. A soft iron cage protects against magnetism.
Bell & Ross builds a 42mm case, water-resistant to 300 meters, protected by a screw-down crown and powered by an Sellita-based BR-CAL.302 movement. Available in a limited edition of 999 pieces, the watch is priced at $4,700.