Technology isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Take Wi-fi on airplanes, for example. Recently, I flew to Europe and chose Finnair purely because the airline has onboard Wi-fi, which means I can work a little, and send inane WhatsApp messages to friends, all along the lines of “Guess where I’m texting from?” The flip side of this is that you now become “available” and so must reply to work emails, and there’s only so many texts you can send before people stop caring and go back to ignoring you. Sigh.
There are, however, brief moments when technology for technology’s sake is to be cherished and this week we’ll look at three ridiculous watches that glory in that mantra.
First up is the Urwerk UR-105 TA Clockwork Orange. Urwerk is known for its innovative ways of displaying the time and, on the UR-105 TA, this is done through satellite hours (four rotating discs that move in a carousel motion) that line up with the minutes disc at the bottom of the dial. The black PVD titanium case is 39.5mm wide and 53mm long, so it’s not a small watch. Inside is a 5.02 UR automatic movement that holds up to 48 hours of power. Despite its overall industrial look, there’s are some classic touches, too, such as the circular graining on the dial. It sounds complex and it looks complex and, yes, it’s pointless, but, nonetheless, this watch is undeniably cool and something very different. Prices are available upon request.
Next we have an old favourite, MBF, which does loopy better than any other watchmaker. The Legacy Machine 1 (LM1) was MBF’s stab at classic watchmaking but Max Büsser being Max Büsser, the subsequent iterations have had freaky tweaks and the LM1 Silberstein is perhaps the best of the lot. Made in collaboration with watch designer Alain Silberstein, this LM1 is a visual feast, with strong colours adding drama to the dial design, the highlight of which is a pulsing hairspring beating at the centre. The 42.5mm case houses a movement designed by watch royalty Jean-François Mojon and Kari Voutilainen. Limited to 36 pieces (12 each in red gold, titanium and black PVD titanium) prices for the LM1 Silberstein are available upon request.
Finally, we have something complex and quite brilliant from one of the oldest watchmakers in the business, Breguet. The Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077, at first glance, looks like a beautiful blizzard of cogs, gears and screws but the real genius here is in the movement, which features two entirely independent trains – the first for the hours and minutes, and the second for the chronograph. Again, it’s clever but completely unnecessary, although you do have to admire the engineering. The white-gold case is sized 44mm and the watch has 55 hours of power reserve. Features include a power-reserve indicator at the two o’clock position, a 20-minute counter at the 10 o’clock position and, of course, the chronograph. The Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077 is priced at HK$628,900.