OK, I'll admit I've laboured this whole sequel thing. But in reality all good things come in a trilogy. The Lord of The Rings, Batman and The Godfather. Alright, maybe not The Godfather; the last one was pretty abject but it did give the world one great line. So to paraphrase Don "Shouty" Corleone, just when you thought I was done with Watches & Wonders, I pull you back in.
This is the last week, I promise, as Hong Kong's - and indeed Asia's - first haute horology exhibition finished yesterday. We've looked at some pretty pricey watches from the show, but there were more reasonably priced gems to be seen. Priced at HK$26,500, the Baume et Mercier Clifton 10112 (above right) comes with a 43mm steel case, and beating inside it is an automatic movement that pumps out 42 hours of power. The main feature of the timepiece is the dual-time function, which is wonderfully presented in a neat and classic style. Baume et Mercier gets a rough ride from snootier watch people and, it must be said, rather unfairly as the brand has as strong a heritage as any of the Swiss watchmakers and has always made watches with great build quality and well-designed dials, and for reasonable prices. So seriously, what's not to like? The strap is alligator leather and the watch is water resistant to 50 metres.
Vacheron Constantin is a brand that can wow the masses and elicit approving nods from the aficionados. For the Watches & Wonders show, the Swiss brand released an update to the extremely well received Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon (below right), with the watch now available in platinum. This timepiece is not only striking for its elegant looks but also for the monster of a movement that lurks inside the 42mm platinum 950 case. Inside the watch is Calibre 2260 in-house mechanical movement that bears the Geneva seal, proving the quality of the hand-polished movement, but, in reality, Vacheron Constantin is so far ahead of other watchmakers in terms of finishing that the seal might be a touch unnecessary. The incredibly impressive 14-day, that's 336 hours, power reserve is made possible by the four barrels coupled in pairs and provides the energy for the wonderful tourbillon visible at the six o'clock position. At the 12 o'clock position is the distinctive power-reserve indicator, but a wonderful design touch is placing the small seconds on top of the tourbillon making it almost imperceptible from afar but a great discovery on closer inspection. The strap is Mississippi alligator leather, and I love that Vacheron Constantin tells you that. The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-Day Tourbillon is limited to 50 pieces and prices will be announced very soon.
Finally, we have something that looks great and has a backstory that will bring a smile to your friends' faces. IWC is making a hard play to become the pre-eminent pilot's watch manufacturer and what's likely to widen its appeal is the collaboration with the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor programme, aka the Top Gun Academy. The IWC Top Gun line has proved popular but the 2013 boutique editions are well worth a look, particularly the Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun (top left). The case is sized at 48mm and made of tough ceramic. And the watch is feature rich, with the perpetual calendar displaying day, date and month, a moon-phase indicator, a four-digit year indicator and a power-reserve indicator. Speaking of power reserve, for such a power-hungry watch the seven-day power reserve is doubly impressive. Limited to 250 pieces and available at IWC boutiques only, prices for the IWC Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun are available upon request.