A finely made watch spares no expense in its pursuit of perfection.
From its beautifully crafted enclosure to its highly decorated and engineered movement, no detail is left unturned for even the most novel of mechanisms destined for time display.
As such, it’s easy to understand why only a few are ever made and even fewer are available to buy. Luxury watches, much like their exotic supercar cousins, become an object of lust which are sought after for their sense of pride and achievement they provide.
Performance and sheer beauty certainly comes into play but as an expression of who you truly are, a watch made to this degree speaks volumes of your personality: you’re a man who appreciates the exacting work of master craftspeople.
“Movements comprise of several hundred parts and in fine watchmaking, each and every one of these components are decorated or finished by hand”
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Arguably the most important element of the watch is the internal mechanism where much of the value of the watch is sunk into; this is where the engineering side of watchmaking interacts and blurs with the artistic side.
Not only are these movements engineered for performance, they present sensationally whilst doing their job. Movements comprise of several hundred parts and in fine watchmaking, each and every one of these components are decorated or finished by hand.
Take the Patek Philippe 5196 as an example. It’s one of the most basic watches from the venerable brand and yet it features chamfering on the bridges (the top surface of the movement). This highlights the shape of the part and compliments each and every one of the wheels in the movement which are finished by polishing the teeth before applying an extra brushed finish by hand.
On some components, even surfaces that you cannot see are painstakingly finished. This attention to detail is the same in every one of the brand’s watches, be they the most simple of watches, or the most complicated.
Movements can also employ novel ways of telling the time. The talented folks at Urwerk manage to create different ways of telling the time through the use of “satellites” – mobile indicators that travel the length of the minute track, before another satellite takes its place to continue the next hour.
How we often judge watches is by their exterior. This includes the case, dials, straps and buckles, all which commonly receive the same treatment as the engine ticking away inside. Cases can comprise of just as many parts as simple movements, in particular the signature tonneau shaped case from Richard Mille.
The curvature of its distinctive case means that the parts must be produced with such precision that they will fit perfectly to guarantee water resistance. This is adding to the fact that Richard Mille also has a tendency to use rare materials which are known for their unique properties which are notoriously difficult to shape and finish.
Breguet is another fine example of how immaculately engineered watches have equally finished exteriors. Dials from Breguet are renowned for their intricate patterns etched into them by ancient machinery.
Throw in some crazy blue hands which get their colour not from ink, but from heat bluing – a process where a craftsman controls a flame to heat the hands to turn them blue, and you’ll realise there are no shortcuts in this game of patience and precision.
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There is no mistaking why finely finished watches are legendary – the work that goes into producing a single piece is a monumental task, and often requires the specialised efforts of numerous craftspeople to achieve a single goal.
From the finishing of a single wheel, to the hand polishing of a case, to the lengthy production of a dial, these watches are made for one sole purpose in mind: to create something that resonates perfection amongst those who consider themselves at the pinnacle of their lives.