It's always sad when words or phrases are overused and lose their meaning. Take "genius": Christopher Nolan is a great film director - fantastic even, an auteur - but he's not a genius. Jay-Z is perhaps the greatest hip hop artist ever, an exceptional businessman, sharp dresser, loving husband, great dad and all round good egg, but he's not a genius.
Similarly, the phrase "limited edition" is fast losing all meaning. Nowadays drinks companies and fast-food giants make "limited edition" bottles with production runs of millions upon millions.
In the horology world, the words "limited edition" are a boon to sales and, thankfully, are applied more cautiously. Limited-edition timepieces such as the Speake-Marin Triad (bottom) are the bedrock of watch collecting. Properly "limited" - to only 88 pieces - the Triad is also rare in its technical prowess; taking the number three as a motif, it boasts triple hours and minute dials on its partially skeletonised face. The 42mm case is made of stainless steel, with an 18-carat red-gold bezel; the movement inside is an Eros 2 that pumps out 120 hours of power; and the strap is natural alligator leather. Peter Speake-Marin is himself a rarity in the world of Swiss watchmaking, being one of the few Englishmen in the industry, and has built a reputation for creating beautiful timepieces for the likes of MB&F and Harry Winston, form he has repeated under his own brand.
The Triad is the first piece in the Speake-Marin Mechanical Art Collection, which makes it highly collectable, and is priced at about HK$200,000.
The Armand Nicolet L09 is another gem that is certain to become very rare very quickly. Limited to 450 pieces, it is something of a departure for the company, being a sporty watch and coming in limited numbers. The highlight of this timepiece is the in-house AN0711A movement, a true blast from the past - 1957 to be precise, with Armand Nicolet using original components (those remaining being of limited number, of course) from that year, which have been tweaked for 2013. The 44mm L09 case is made of titanium, making it incredibly strong, and there are three varieties of the watch available - the DLC black titanium version, with a black rubber strap (above right); the titanium silver dial version, with an alligator strap; and the 18-carat rose-gold version, also with a black rubber strap. Prices for all versions of the Armand Nicolet L09 are available upon request.
Finally, we have the Christophe Claret Kantharos (above left), a watch that defines "limited edition" without actually needing to state the exact number produced. Christophe Claret is a watchmaker who doesn't like the words "easy" or "simple" and so it is with the Kantharos, a watch that is a mono-pusher chronograph with a constant force escapement and a cathedral gong thrown in for good measure. What does all that technical jargon mean? Well, this watch makes rather an arresting sound when you start and stop the chronograph - which makes it quite unique. Inside the 45mm titanium case is a MBA13 movement, providing 48 hours of power reserve. The Christophe Claret Kantharos is priced at about HK$800,000.