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Three watches that watchmakers loved in 2016

And the Oscar goes to … Those fateful words that make Bradley Cooper’s heart leap with excitement before the crush­ing reality that he’s lost out to another British theatre-trained luvvie for the best actor gong. It’s happened twice now – sadly, these things usually come in threes – but one day, Bradley, one day. The watch industry has its own “Oscars”, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, which is held every November, and the winners have been announced (see Chanel’s ‘secret watch’ yours for HK$5.8 million, for the winner of the high-jewellery category). So, let’s take a look at three of this year’s standout pieces.

My favourite among the winners is the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition, which won the chronograph prize. Montblanc has invested millions of francs on becoming a first-class watchmaker in double-quick time and the fruits of all that investment are now on show. Snobs out there might never accept Montblanc as a legitimate high-end watch­maker but, seriously, these folks need to get their heads checked as, looks-wise, the 1858 Chronograph is a stunner – a beautiful rendering of the classic two-dial chrono­­graph from the Minerva archive, which Montblanc now owns. It isn’t too shabby inside, either, with a Calibre MB M16.29 in-house movement pumping out 50 hours of power. The steel case is sized at 44mm and, limited to 100 pieces, the 1858 Chronograph is priced at HK$200,000.

Ferdinand Berthoud’s FB 1 takes top prize at Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix

Another pleasing winner is the Tag Heuer Monza Chrono­graph, which took the best-revival award. Before it was purchased by the Tag Group in the 1980s, Heuer was a standalone com­pany that special­ised in racing watches and a favourite of Formula One drivers and macho celebs, such as Steve McQueen. Heuer lost some of its cool when it became part of the larger company but, whisper it, it’s breaking out of the cult status niche and making a play for the common man again. The Monza Chronograph is a huge step in the right direction, and not just for its retro rugged looks. The original watchwas introduced in 1976 and designed for Ferrari driver Niki Lauda. This is a faithful rendering of Lauda’s model and all the better for it, the only modern tweaks being increasing the size from 39mm to 42mm. Inside is a calibre 17 movement and the watch comes with a leather racing strap. The Monza Chronograph is priced at HK$38,000.

MBF’s Legacy Machine Perpetual, winner of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, is fool-proof

Lastly, we have the winner of the calendar watch prize, the MBF Legacy Machine Perpetual. MBF is known for whacky timepieces and expensive boys toys but people forget it can make simply stunning, elegant watches, such as this one. Made in collaboration with Irish watch­maker Stephen McDonnell, there’s a lot to say about this piece beyond its breathtaking looks. The watch is seriously cutting edge and completely re­thinks the idea of a perpetual calendar movement by adding a “mechanical pro­cessor”. The case is sized at 44mm and the watch comes in two precious materials. Power reserve is a hefty 72 hours and indi­cators include date, day, month, power reserve and year. Limited to 25 pieces in platinum and 25 pieces in red gold, prices for the Legacy Machine Perpetual are available upon request.