With all the global events happening in Hong Kong these days, the city is in danger of actually living up to the Tourism Board's frankly awful tagline "Asia's World City". Filmart, The Hub and, of course, Art Basel Hong Kong have all raised the town's profile, but for watch collectors and the industry itself the big one is coming up in a few weeks. Watches & Wonders - seriously, there must be good copywriters out there somewhere - is the first Asian haute horology exhibition in the vein, if not the size, of Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) and Baselworld, and it's hard to convey what a big deal it is.
Suffice to say, with the world orientating East, watchmakers have finally come to where the market is, and over the next few weeks we'll be bringing you some of the gems set to be exhibited at the event.
First up is the A Lange & Sohne Grand Complication (right) and, let's be honest, this watch could open any show, anywhere in the world. A seven-complication watch - grande and petite sonneries, a minute repeater, a split-seconds monopusher chronograph, a rattrapante, a perpetual calendar and, finally, a moonphase indicator - it is haute horology in its purest form. No corners have been cut here - indeed, A Lange & Sohne is going for maximum points on complexity. The minute repeater is both grand sonnerie and petite sonnerie, which means it strikes out the number of hours and indicates quarter hours with another gong. Similarly, the chronograph has a complex flyback seconds function and minutes register. The perpetual calendar is accurate to the year 2100 and needs no adjustment. I could go on. This is a truly fantastic watch that is certain to become a favourite among collectors - all the more so as only six will be made. The 50mm case is rose gold and the strap brown leather. The A Lange & Sohne Grand Complication is priced at the princely sum of €1.92 million (HK$19.6 million), but that is unlikely to deter the most avid collectors.
A minute repeater that will grace the show but not break the bank, relatively speaking, is the Audemars Piguet Millenary Minute Repeater (top right). Coming in a distinctive rose-gold case measuring 47mm by 42mm, it is a large watch, perhaps a touch larger than it needs to be. The dial is a balance between the classic clock face to the right and a view of the escapement and minute repeater to the left, with the offset seconds counter at the seven o'clock position. At the nine o'clock position is the repeater slide for activating the minute repeater. The finishing of the dial is exemplary, with white enamel used for the most part. Inside is the AP Calibre 2928 movement, with all the components finely decorated and hand-polished. The Audemars Piguet Millenary Minute Repeater is priced at HK$3.87 million.
Finally, we have the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Tourbillon (left) with jumping second time zone. Not strictly a new launch (it debuted at SIHH in January) it's new insofar as it's just coming to market in Asia. Limited to 50 pieces, this 46mm timepiece in 18-carat pink gold has been designed like a regulator - that is, it has a central minute hand and two jumping hour counters, giving you a second time zone. The tourbillon takes pride of place at the six o'clock position and the partially exposed 9456 movement shows the hand-polishing that earned this watch the Geneva Seal. Power reserve is 50 hours and the strap is brown crocodile leather. The Ballon Bleu de Cartier Tourbillon is priced at HK$1.04 million.