As a man - a very virile, masculine man - I ordinarily have no time for doctors and their "medicine"; however, recently I did myself a mischief and had cause to visit one. Amazingly, this physician, let's call him Dr Quack McSawbones, didn't apply any leeches to me; apparently they don't do blood-letting any longer.
Anyway, old McSawbones did fix me using some other kind of voodoo, but the thing that caught my eye was his wristwatch, a vintage Patek Philippe pulsometer. Pulsometers were the original wearable tech, the first health apps, in that they measure heart rate, so doctors tended to have them. What marked out pulsometers, aesthetically speaking, were the scales on the dial, which meant watch designers had to get creative and not overwhelm the face. The best pulsometers would marry the need to be legible and useful with sumptuous renderings of the scales. The Longines Pulsometer Chronograph (right) is a wonderful echo of the past, being both elegant and technical. This is one of my favourite Longines of recent years, probably because it doesn't really look like a Longines. But make no mistake, this beauty is inspired by the archives, in particular pulsometers from the 1920s. The central attractions of the design are retro lettering and the use of black and red fonts juxtaposed with the blue steel of the hands and the lacquered white of the dial. The steel case is 40mm, which cramps things a little but, to me, that adds to the charm. Functions include the chronograph, the pulsometer scale and a date indicator. Inside is an L788.2 calibre that's been developed by ETA exclusively for Longines and provides 54 hours of power reserve. Prices for the Longines Pulsometer Chronograph are available upon request.
Next we have the Oris Royal Flying Doctor Service Limited Edition (right). Now many of us of a certain age will no doubt remember the Australian medical drama The Flying Doctors that was big on hair and perplexing problems of the dingo-ate-my-baby variety. This watch is a tribute to those intrepid doctors and a fine piece it is, too. Coming in a 44mm steel case, the watch features two oversized crowns, one at the four o'clock position, for adjusting the main time, and another at the two o'clock position, for the second time zone. Although you can't see it on this picture, the crown at the two o'clock position features an engraving of Australia, the only such marking on the watch. Other features include day and date windows and a leather strap. The pulsation ring on the black dial is in orange, and the indices are coated with luminescence. Inside, the movement is an Oris 735 that gives 38 hours of power reserve, enough, one imagines, for a trip to the outback and back. Limited to 2,000 pieces, this special edition Oris is priced at HK$14,500.
Finally, we have an almost too elegant take on the pulsometer, the Blancpain Villeret Chronographe Pulsometre (right). Released last year, this pulsometer is notable for the amount of white space there is on the face. The enamel dial and classical styling are the star attractions here but inside there are more delights. The F385 movement is a new calibre and features a silicon hairspring, and the movement can beat at 36,000 vibrations per hour, so it's no slouch in the innovation department. The watch is a flyback chronograph, so the push button at the four o'clock position can stop the chronograph and time a new event. The case is sized at 43.6mm and made of red gold. There is also a date window at the six o'clock position. The Blancpain Villeret Chronograph Pulsometre is priced at HK$252,500.