About time: special cases
Stop me if I'm beginning to sound like an old man, but the problem with pop culture today is that people just don't know when to quit. There used to be a certain honour in going out at the top and not milking things until it embarrassed everyone involved. Take, for instance, rock bands. With each passing year, The Rolling Stones destroy more of the respect I had for them. That refusal to exit stage left is made all the galling when you consider Led Zeppelin refuse to reform despite the millions upon millions they've been offered. Limiting appearances can, in fact, heighten a legacy and the same is true of anything from cars to, you've guessed it, watches.
Limited-edition watches are ordinarily tied to anniversaries or tributes, but the reasons behind creating one are becoming more inventive. Omega has linked some of its recent limited-edition watches to the James Bond film franchise and, after releasing a 50-year anniversary watch, it has returned to the Bond well to create a timepiece tied to the latest movie, Skyfall. The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Skyfall (bottom) is a superb diver's watch, irrespective of the 007-related bells and whistles. Water resistant to 600 metres, the limited-edition watch comes with a unidirectional diving bezel and helium escape valve so it's ready for any underwater challenges you may want to throw at it. The stainless-steel case is sized at 42mm and the watch comes with a steel bracelet with a 007 logo printed on the clasp. There is also some 007 detailing on the black dial, with the Bond logo at the seven o'clock position. The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Skyfall is limited to an apt 5,007 pieces and priced at a tempting HK$50,500.
Smaller watchmakers are as keen on limited editions as the big boys and, for 2012, Swiss watchmaker Oris has released a watch to celebrate its role as official timekeeper of the Raid classic-car rallies that take place between Basel and Paris. Priced at HK$33,000, the Oris Raid 2012 Chronograph Limited Edition (left) is a lovely, feature-packed watch with a design inspired by the winner of last year's race - a 1942 Cadillac. The 43.5mm steel case houses an automatic movement and a dial design reminiscent of a car dashboard. Features include a second time-zone function as well as two chronograph subdials and a date window at the six o'clock position. The caseback is stamped with the Raid logo but the dial is kept free of any overt tributes to the race. The Oris Raid 2012 Chronograph is limited to 500 pieces.
Last and least, in terms of the number of manufactured watches that is, is the MB&F HM3 Poison Dart Frog (top right). Limited to 10 gloriously insane pieces, the timepiece owes more to conceptual art than it does to watchmaking. As the title suggests, the design is inspired by the poison dart frog. Given the design, workmanship, limited numbers and HK$819,000 price tag, the watch is likely to appeal only to collectors, but if you did happen to wear it out and about occasionally, one imagines there would be no end of interest in it. The large "frog" eyes dominate the dial, which indicates hours and minutes on separate, charmingly eccentric indicators. Above the eyes, there is a view of the Jean-Marc Wiederrecht-designed movement as well as a clever date indicator.