Bare essentials

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am


Magician David Copperfield is undoubtedly a great entertainer, after all he walked through the Great Wall and made the Statue of Liberty disappear. However, impressive though he is, I just find him annoying. It's nothing personal but illusionists just annoy me and I hate not knowing how they perform their tricks.

Thankfully, in the world of watches, sometimes you can see the 'magic' within, which placates the killjoys and helps illustrate the art of watchmaking. Skeleton, or 'open-worked', watches are a rare breed and only the most skilled watch companies make them. Audemars Piguet is one such brand and its expert handiwork can be seen in the Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak 40th Anniversary timepiece (below left). Available for HK$1.1 million, the Extra Thin Royal Oak is a handsome and lithe watch with a case size of only 39mm and a movement thickness of a mere 3.05mm. The bracelet strap and case are made of reassuringly tough 950 platinum, which means the watch is easily water resistant to 50 metres. The watch has a power reserve of 40 hours and a date window at the three o'clock position. The open-worked dial is a riot of cogs and, at first glance, appears impossible to read, but once the eyes become attuned, you realise how remarkable and ornate the movement is.

If you're looking for something a little more meaty, then the Roger Dubuis EX45 Excalibur Double Tourbillon Skeleton watch (above) might be to your liking. The EX45 Excalibur is a beast of a timepiece, with a 45mm case made of rugged black titanium and a strap made of black Mississippi alligator leather. However, it is the skeleton dial that demands attention with its stunning double flying tourbillon. One flying tourbillon is impressive but two is just showing off and Roger Dubuis does so with every visible component - machine- and hand-polished - gleaming back at you. The painstaking polishing allows this watch to have the Geneva Seal, a mark of watchmaking excellence that can be seen at the six o'clock position. Telling the time might be a bit more tricky than it should be due to the black hands but that is a small gripe when one considers the watchmaking genius that has gone into the timepiece. Launched at this year's Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie to much acclaim, the Roger Dubuis EX45 Excalibur Double Tourbillon Skeleton watch is priced at a hefty HK$2 million and production is limited to 88 pieces.

The Hublot Classic Fusion Skeleton Tourbillon (below right) made its debut at BaselWorld last week. The watch is yet to be priced but a look at it suggests it's going to be extremely popular. The case design evokes the watchmaker's Big Bang timepiece but it is markedly slimmer, although the diameter is still a huge 45mm. The case comes in either titanium or 18-carat gold, with both iterations limited to 50 pieces. The skeleton dial reveals the tourbillon at the heart of this watch and the much more industrial and less artisan feel of the movement, which is perhaps deliberate, given the name Fusion and Hublot's more masculine posturing. The build quality is phenomenal, with water resistance to 50 metres and a power reserve of a very impressive 120 hours. The Hublot Classic Fusion Skeleton Tourbillon comes with a black alligator leather strap and should be available sometime in the summer.