Show and tell

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 May, 2010, 12:00am

Why spend HK$1 million on a complicated watch movement if nobody can see what's going on? That question can be dodged by acquiring a skeleton watch, where all the action is on display.

Although their popularity is a relatively recent development, skeleton watches were among the first timepieces to be developed, back before complete cases had become standard. Modern skeleton watches are among the finest examples of the watchmakers' art because they require the removal of parts of the case to create visibility while ensuring that precision and durability are not compromised.

Bulgari's new Tourbillon Lumi?re (above left; HK$1.5 million), part of the Daniel Roth Collection, combines minimalism and transparency. The brown-gold-plated components are encased in a double-ellipse rose-gold case with the meticulously crafted plates, bridges and ratchet wheel fully visible. It has an inner bezel adorned with diamond-polished dots, which serve as the hours and minutes, and steel serpentine hands. The main plate is barely 3.48mm thick, making this one of the world's thinnest tourbillon watches.

Also in the collection is the Tourbillon Rattrapante, which features a more subtle view of its inside - through a small window on the dial. The watch, which has an alligator-leather strap fitted with a triple-blade folding clasp in 18-carat rose gold, costs HK$1.1 million.

Last year, Richard Mille's RM 021 Aerodyne caused a stir in the industry with its use of modern materials new to watchmaking. Now comes the RM 022 Aerodyne Dual Time (above). The watch displays two time zones simultaneously and the case is made from an exceptionally strong combination of titanium and other alloys. Openwork on both sides of the case provides a full view of the mechanism.

On the front, a transparent sapphire crystal disc inscribed with the hours permanently rotates through the movement to reveal the digit only when it is at the three o'clock position, which has a clear background. The watch is available in titanium or 18-carat red or white gold, with an alligator strap and matching buckle.

Oris' newly launched Darryl O'Young watch (right) is inspired by the Porsche racing cars that the Formula One driver competes in. Priced at HK$12,500, the timepiece is based on the motor sports-themed Oris TT3 collection. A glass dial printed with a wheel-rim pattern resembling a racing wheel offers a glimpse of the watch's automatic mechanical movement, as well as its calendar date wheel. The 3D layered dial effect is further enhanced by the Superluminova numerals in Microgramma typeface.

The watch is available in two sizes, 43.5mm and 41mm, and limited to 997 pieces, each engraved with the limited-edition number.