This year is a big one for anniversaries: the Brits are celebrating the queen's diamond jubilee; and it's the 150th anniversary of the birth of painter Gustav Klimt; the 128th anniversary of Singapore's Raffles Hotel; and, closer to home, the 15th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. The year also marks 50 years of Wal-Mart and 75 years of Spam, the processed meat not the unsolicited e-mail.
In the world of watchmaking an anniversary is the perfect time to create limited-edition one-offs that either hark back to brands past or are linked to a significant event. The Audemars Piguet Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak Tourbillon 40th Anniversary Limited Edition (right) is a celebration of the iconic Royal Oak range. When the collection was launched four decades ago, the watch was ahead of its time; the rugged, almost industrial look was a revelation, and it continues to grab attention. The open-worked dial is the centrepiece, with the movement on view in all its glory. The Royal Oak range was never about features and the same goes for this edition. The 41mm, brushed-platinum, octagonal case bears the heavy-duty screws that other watchmakers have imitated but never quite matched. The Audemars Piguet Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak Tourbillon 40th Anniversary Limited Edition is priced at HK$2.77 million and limited to 40 pieces.
Less expensive but no less desirable is the Omega Classic Seamaster Co-Axial 300M James Bond 007 50th Anniversary Collector's Piece (below right).
As the name suggests, this Omega celebrates 50 years of the James Bond film franchise by updating the popular Omega Seamaster Diver 300m watch that 007 has been sporting in every film since Goldeneye. Priced at HK$38,800 and limited to 11,007 pieces, this updated version comes in a 41mm stainless-steel case and features all you would expect from a top-class diving watch, including water resistance to 300 metres, a unidirectional ceramic bezel and a helium escape valve. However, it is the James Bond touches that make this watch great. The black dial has a repeating 007 logo pattern, the caseback is stamped with the famous gun barrel design and there is a bullet decoration on the rotor. With the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, hitting cinemas this year, the Omega Classic Seamaster Co-Axial 300M James Bond 007 50th Anniversary Collector's Piece is a must for die-hard fans.
This year, Longines celebrates its 180th birthday and to mark the milestone has created the Longines Column-Wheel Single Push-Piece Chronograph 180th Anniversary Limited Edition (above right). Limited to 180 numbered pieces and yet to be priced for Hong Kong, this watch is a nod to the company's history and, in particular, the first wrist chronograph created by Longines, in 1913. The 40mm, 18-carat gold case is reminiscent of the early wristwatches that owed more to pocket watches for design inspiration. The watch features hours, minutes, seconds as well as a date indicator and a chronograph that has an integrated single push crown at the three o'clock position. This Longines comes with a brown alligator strap and has a power reserve of 54 hours.