About time: Icemen cometh
I love Dennis Bergkamp. There, I've said it. Yes, I admit I am a fan of Arsenal Football Club, but the reasons for my fealty to The Iceman, as the Dutch footballer was known, go beyond mere fanboy worship. I love Bergkamp because he was unique, a maverick, a one off. Bergkamp would do things with a football that weren't in any coaching manual, things people scarcely thought possible. Conformity simply wasn't Bergkamp's thing.
This appreciation of the mavericks - those who dare to see things differently and attempt new innovations even if they don't quite come off - is perhaps why I have grown so fond of independent high-horology watchmakers. MB&F is among the most widely known of such brands and it's not hard to see why, with the watchmaker continually raising the bar. For 2013, MB&F has launched the latest edition to its HM3 line, the curiously named Megawind (below left). The highlight of this watch, and the reason for the name, is the large battle-axe-shaped winding rotor, which is as striking as it is powerful. The time is displayed on two cones on the front, one indicating hours, the other minutes. The 270-component move-ment inside has been designed by the legendary Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. The case comes in rose gold and titanium, with a black stitched alligator leather strap. The MB&F HM3 Megawind is priced at more than HK$700,000.
Ask any watch geek who the most gifted watchmakers are and more than likely the name Peter Speake-Marin will pop up. Something of an anomaly in Swiss watchmaking, Speake-Marin is an Englishman who has won the respect of his peers by crafting challenging high-complication watches first at Renaud et Papi and now at his eponymous brand. New for this year is the Speake-Marin Triad (top), a tricky thing to call a watch in Hong Kong, one must admit. The "Triad" in the title actually refers to the number three, with triple hour-minute displays on the dial. Along with the beautiful blue hands and an intricate gearing system on full view, the back of the watch is also a visual delight, featuring as it does Speake-Marin's "mystery" winding rotor. Inside is an Eros 2 automatic-winding movement providing 120 hours of power. The 42mm case is steel and rose gold and the strap is alligator leather. The Speake-Marin Triad is limited to 88 pieces and prices are available upon request.
Last but never least, we have those arch mavericks Urwerk. Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei, the men behind Urwerk, have been wowing the horology world ever since they released their first watch, the UR-103, to much acclaim in 1997. They have shaken things up this year with the launch of the EMC (below right), or Electro Mechanical Control. It's claimed the EMC is the first mechanical wrist watch with artificial intelligence, which translates to allowing the wearer to fine-tune the precision of the watch himself based on data about its performance obtainable at the touch of a button. Is this gimmickry necessary or even useful? Not in the slightest. Is the engineering impressive and just plain cool? You betcha! Housed in a titanium and steel case that measures 43mm by 51mm, the dial has indicators for hours, minutes, power reserve, which runs to 80 hours, running seconds and precision. The Urwerk EMC is priced at more than HK$930,000.