$770K Harry Winston Timepiece Among New Debuts for Hollywood Watch Aficionados

Courtesy of Blancpain, Glashutte, and JaquetDroz
Watches by (from left) Blancpain, Glashutte and Jaquet Droz

From Omega’s 50th anniversary celebration of the moon landing to an elegant Jaquet Droz men’s watch tailor-made for red carpets, Swatch Group brands have released new pieces perfect for industry wrists.

For watch fans, 2019 debuts could not be complete until Swatch Group weighed in with its latest entries in status timepieces. With brands that range from Harry Winston and Jaquet Droz to Breguet and Blancpain, the mega company made headlines earlier this year when it announced that Swatch would exit the annual March trade fair known as Baselworld, citing mounting costs and diminished return on investment. The solution? Get out of the convention center and bring retailers, select journalists and VIP clients to six of their iconic manufactures in Switzerland for an up-close look at both new watches and the design process.

For pricey watches steeped in heritage and tradition, it was a smart solution. Sitting in a sterile convention-center meeting room listening to facts about a new watch is one thing; seeing the artisans who perform the intricate craft — from the hand-turning of a rose engine lathe at Breguet to create a guillochéd dial to fashioning delicate prongs in platinum for an articulated diamond watch bracelet at Harry Winston — is quite another.

When viewing the new pieces, often it was effortless to envision Hollywood players who might wear them. With that in mind, here are seven hot watches from six brands, each “cast” to suit an industry professional.

For the Female Agent: Blancpain’s Villeret Date

It’s easy to envision this day-to-evening piece on Hylda Queally from CAA or Julie Darmody from Rise Management as they negotiate seemingly non-stop schedules. Crafted in 18-karat rose gold for its case and bracelet and featuring a slim bezel encircled with diamonds, an opaline dial also embellished with diamonds and a four-day power reserve, this self-winding 33.20mm piece is equal parts effortless and elegant. A new date window at the 3 o’clock position has been fashioned in an oval shape vs. the traditional rectangular date window; it’s a small change but makes a big difference in aesthetics. blancpain.com

For the Indie Director: Glashutte Original’s Sixties Panorama Date With New Orange Degradé Dial

You’ve had a hit at Sundance or Cannes; go ahead and treat yourself to a timeless watch that’s sure to be noticed. Glashutte Original’s Sixties collection is based on an ultra-classic timepiece that was highly popular during that decade (and remains so), though this Germany-based brand enhances the concept by showing off its skills in dial workmanship. Last year’s Sixties models featured a textured dial in brilliant green, and for 2019, Glashutte has gone a bit further with that idea, crafting an embossed dial with red and black lacquers and a degradé effect that ultimately looks like a brilliant orange sunset. Housed in a 42mm stainless-steel case, the automatic piece also features a large Panorama date at the 6 o’clock position and a 40-hour power reserve. glashutte-original.com

For the Actor on the Red Carpet: Jaquet Droz’s Grande Seconde Chronograph

The Grande Seconde is known for the iconic figure-8 styling on its dial, but it’s never included a chronograph complication — until now. Jaquet Droz is releasing a limited edition of just 88 pieces (a nod to the dial’s styling) in 18-karat red gold with a Grand Feu ivory enamel dial; but for someone who wants to combine the watch’s classic elegance with a bit more of a fashion-forward vibe, a non-limited style with a dial in sand-blasted taupe gray also makes its debut, housed in a 43mm stainless-steel case and, perhaps most importantly, featuring an off-center retrograde date display and monopusher chronograph 30-minute subdial, both at 7 o’clock, while the crown has been shifted to the 4 o’clock position. jaquet-droz.com

For the Actress on the Red Carpet: Harry Winston’s Precious Emerald With a Dial in Hand-Painted Blue or Green Mother of Pearl

Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Lopez often wear Harry Winston on the red carpet (J. Lo most recently wore a diamond necklace highlighting a major purple sapphire to the Met Gala), so the latest all-diamond platinum bracelet watches designed by the house are likely to turn up at future events, also because it’s easy for these diminutive pieces to be layered with diamond bracelets. The case is indeed small, just 17.5mm, but the hands stand out nicely against the deep blue or green of the hand-painted mother-of-pearl dials, a technique that creates an impressive depth vs. even Grand Feu enamel. It’s the diamonds, of course, that dominate the spotlight, and are inspired by the iconic Cluster design that Harry Winston developed in the 1940s. The Precious Emerald highlights a total of 136 marquise-cut diamonds weighing approximately 14.95 carats, and 28 brilliant-cut diamonds totaling approximately .24 carats. harrywinston.com

For the Producer: Omega’s Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition in Moonshine Gold

Between now and July 21, expect the buzz (no pun intended) to only grow as America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, with Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins as the first men to land on the moon on July 21, 1969. The three men famously wore Omega Speedmasters, a watch tested and approved by NASA, though Aldrin was the first man to wear the piece on the lunar surface, as Armstrong had left his behind in the lunar module before his famed “One small step for man” moment.

Upon their return, Omega commemorated the event by gifting then-President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew with Numbers 1 and 2 of commemorative versions of the timepiece, crafted in yellow gold with a distinctive burgundy bezel (numbers 3 through 28 were presented to NASA astronauts). But because of the high value of the watches, federal laws prohibited Nixon and Agnew from accepting the gifts, and they were returned to Omega, which has kept them in their archives — and the museum adjacent to their headquarters in Biel, Switzerland — ever since.

Over the years, Omega has produced various versions of the Speedmaster worn on the moon, but for the producer who perhaps want to combine a touch of flash, a legendary history and a definite conversation starter on his or her wrist, Omega has recreated the gold version — informally dubbed “the Nixon watch” — for the 50th anniversary. As opposed to the somewhat showy yellow gold that was indicative of that decade, for this watch Omega developed a new unique alloy, which has been christened Moonshine Gold and is meant to evoke thoughts of the moonlight as it shines in a dark blue sky.

The 42mm chronograph is limited to 1,014 pieces and again features the burgundy bezel with tachymeter scale, but 50 years later has the advantage of being crafted in scratch-resistant ceramic. The outer caseback ring, meanwhile, is engraved with “1969-2019,” as well as its limited-edition number highlighted in burgundy. omegawatches.com

For the Hardcore Hollywood Collector: Breguet’s Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 and Harry Winston’s Histoire de Tourbillon 10

Los Angeles boasts no shortage of serious watch aficionados, and as Swatch Group presented its 2019 debuts, two stood out for collectors who perhaps exhibit radically different styles.

For the watch fan who prefers special pieces with a more elegant, classic vibe, Breguet debuted an exceptional new version of its Classique, the Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395. The extra-thin self-winding skeleton movement measures just 3 millimeters, pretty impressive for any piece featuring a tourbillon. Breguet artisans said they had to rethink the entire design of the tourbillon, placing it within a titanium carriage, and then they took the concept a step further by removing almost 50 percent of the elements within the movement — while not compromising its functions or precision — to create its skeleton design. The watch weighs roughly .29 grams and also features an 80-hour power reserve, as well as a hallmark of the brand, a “Clous de Paris” hobnail design created by using a diamond-tipped guilloché tool. breguet.com

But if there’s one watch easily envisioned on the wrist of adventurous collectors like Robert Downey, Jr., it has to be the 10th anniversary edition of Harry Winston’s Histoire de Tourbillon collection. Dubbed “Histoire de Tourbillon 10,” the limited-edition piece is the very first among high-end watchmakers to feature four distinct and independent tourbillons, one in each corner and each rotating counterclockwise at just 36 seconds. They’re viewed under a rectangular sapphire case that was almost as complicated in its creation, measuring 53.3mm wide and 39.1mm tall, the better to view both the tourbillons and the skeletonized dial, as well as the 55-hour power reserve. Just 10 each of this style will be created in 18-karat white or rose gold, while a true unique piece is also available in platinum; it’s priced at 770,000 Swiss francs — in other words, Iron Man money. harrywinston.com