The most telling thing about modern living - by that I mean living in the here and now and not, say, 1997 or pre-Google - is that we revel in the superfluous, demand it even. Wood-burning fireplaces in apartment buildings, helicopter landing pads on yachts, first-class carriages on the MTR East Rail line, Paul McCartney making more music after The Beatles, all of this is unnecessary to any right-thinking person but, lo, they all exist. In mechanical watches, creeping superfluity has been an issue ever since you could tell the time on your smartphone and the watch became a fashion accessory. Indeed, it seems to be a badge of honour for some watchmakers to create watches that are chocker-block with pointless, never-used features.
When was the last time you or anyone you know used a chronograph for practical reasons, for instance? You know, to record elapsed time? Never, I'm guessing, which is a shame as the amount of technical know-how that goes into making chronographs is wasted if people don't use them. Sure they look cool, and none more so than the Omega Speedmaster Mark II (right), but they were made for a purpose and they can perform incredibly well. The Speedmaster Mark II's is a re-issue of the Mark II from 1969, which was designed for the American space programme. Inside the hard-to-miss steel case is a new Co-axial Calibre 3300 movement, a powerful and reliable work horse. The design is what we would call "retro" but it's pretty much faithful to the original, with the use of the grey and orange on the dial a particular highlight. Features include date indicator, 100-metre water resistance and, of course, three chronograph subdials: 30-minute counter; 12-hour counter; and small-seconds counter, all just screaming to be used. The Omega Speedmaster Mark II is priced at HK$48,700.
Girard-Perregaux perhaps doesn't have the same notori-ety as Omega when it comes to chronograph watches, but through its Chrono Hawk range, GP is punching above its weight. For 2014, it has added a steel bracelet to its latest Chrono Hawk (right), which amps up the masculinity on an already manly watch. The steel bracelet compliments the 44mm case and metallic-blue dial (there is also a silver-dial version), and the overall look is sporty. There are two subdials, one for small seconds the other a 30-minute counter, and the in-house GP3300-0074 movement is extremely capable, with a power reserve of 46 hours. There is also a date window at the six o'clock position and water resistance to 100 metres. Prices for the Girard-Perregaux Chrono Hawk are available upon request.
Finally, we have the Oris Big Crown Timer Chronograph (right), so called, unsurprisingly, for its rather large crown. This is a chronograph watch that skews more towards function than aesthetics and it's all the better for it. Another reimagining of a classic, the Big Crown adds features such as a more streamlined 46mm PVD-plated dark-grey steel case and a revolving minute scale on the coin-edged top ring. On the back of the watch is a feet-to-metre conversion scale and the dial has three chronograph subdials. Inside is a modified ETA 7750 movement and on top of the chronograph functions are day and date indicators. Prices for the Oris Big Crown Timer Chronograph will be released next month.