About time: leading by example
Judging by all the watch advertising you see in magazines and on billboards, it should come as no surprise that Hong Kong is the world's No1 export market for Swiss watches; and it is almost twice the size of the No2 market, the United States. That's an awful lot of timepieces, and as manufacturers and retailers turn their focus East, the enthusiasts and collectors among us can only benefit. Take, for example, the "DFS Masterpieces of Time" exhibition currently taking place at the Venetian Macau.
Running until the end of next month, the exhibition is in its fourth year and is bigger than ever - with more than 400 limited-edition pieces it's a watch lover's paradise. Best of all, the pieces are for sale and we've picked three of the highlights.
First up is the Hublot Big Bang "Aero Bang Jet Li" (below right), which pays tribute to the Hong Kong action superstar and his philanthropic efforts. Designed in the iconic Big Bang shape, the black ceramic case is a chunky 44.5mm in diameter. The dial design is a lovely repeating trellis pattern inspired by the fifth-century Buddhist movement that gave its name to Li's 1982 film debut, Shaolin Temple. The in-house HUB4212 movement gives a 42-hour power reserve and drives the three chronograph subdials. There is also a yin and yang graphic with Li's signature on the case back. The lucky red and black colour scheme works well with the red stitching on the black alligator leather strap. The Hublot Bing Bang "Aero Bang Jet Li" is priced at HK$187,500 and limited to 200 numbered pieces, with a percentage of the profits going to Li's The One Foundation.
The Excalibur collection from Roger Dubuis isn't for everyone but what's undeniable is that the watches make a statement. The Excalibur Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon (above) is an exercise in precision for the sake of precision. Limited to 88 pieces, the rose-gold case measures a hefty 45mm and the dial is fully skeletonised, giving a precious view of the double flying tourbillon and the RD01SQ movement that cranks out an impressive 48 hours of power. The dial also offers a glimpse of the fully hand-polished movement, showing the level of craftsmanship that gave this watch the coveted Geneva Seal. The technical bravado on this timepiece cannot be stated enough, with the unique arrangement of not one but two flying tourbillons correcting the movement twice over for the effects of gravity. The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon in rose gold is priced at HK$2.04 million.
Finally we have an exceptional watch from an exceptional watchmaker. Christophe Claret is a legend within the watchmaking world and it's not hard to see why with watches such as the X-TREM-1 (below left), a tour de force in engineering. As if a flying tourbillon inclined at the optimum 30 degree angle on a 3D curvex titanium mainplate wasn't enough, the X-TREM-1 also features revolutionary retrograde hours and minutes displays. The two transparent tubes either side of the watch indicate hours and minutes with a small metal ball powered purely by magnetic fields. Yes, magnets. There is no mechanical connection. Watch lovers know that magnets can ruin delicate movements but Claret has just gone ahead and powered this watch with that once nefarious force. Don't ask me how, but it works and it makes the X-TREM-1 a worthy addition to any collection. The Christophe Claret X-TREM-1 is limited to eight pieces in rose gold priced at HK$2.38 million each and eight pieces in white gold priced at HK$2.42 million each.