Macau. A city of dreams? Or the place where the soul goes to die? I’ve always had a mildly tolerate-hate relationship with the autonomous territory on the western side of the Pearl River Delta (thanks Wikipedia). I’m not really one for gambling and just the idea of watching a Cirque du Soleil show brings me out in a rash. Macau, however, is also home to one of Asia’s biggest watch exhibitions, the DFS Masters of Time, so I put aside my preciousness and sloped over. And I’m really glad I did as the selection on show – 400 pieces from 27 brands – is for nerds and casual fans alike and I got to see first-hand watches from producers such as Angelus that don’t often make an appearance in Hong Kong. It’s a free exhibition that runs until the end of February, so check it out if you find yourself in the other SAR. To whet the appetite, I’ll run through three of the standouts.
Just as with Macau, I have a fraught relationship with Bulgari timepieces, not helped by the unimaginatively titled and gauchely styled Bulgari Bulgari collection. However, the Octo collection, with a case originally designed by the legendary Gérald Genta, is, well, bellissimo. The new Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is an upgrade on perfection. Not only is the watch the world’s thinnest minute repeater, at 6.85mm thick it is also absolutely gorgeous. Holding the timepiece reveals its marvel of engineering – it is so light it’s barely there but, on the wrist, it dominates with its muscular design and 40mm titanium case. Just quickly, for those who might not be familiar, the minute repeater complication is one that means the watch can chime out the time on demand with the push of a slider. Inside is a BVL 362 movement that has 42 hours of power reserve and the water resistance is a very impressive 30 metres, which, once again, is a sign of excellent build quality and case construction. The Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is priced at HK$1.23 million.
Another highlight, at least for me, was the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Worldtime. I’ve loved every new piece in the Overseas collection but the Overseas Worldtime is the pick of a lovely bunch. The eye is immediately drawn to the dial layout, which features 37 time zones – 13 more than standard world-time-dial layouts. There’s a lot going on here but VC has rendered it all with such care and precision that everything on the face is legible. The design is great but the complication is genuinely useful to people who travel a lot and, best of all, the 43.5mm case comes in steel, making the timepiece more accessible to mere mortals. A peach of a watch, the Overseas Worldtime is priced at about HK$306,000.
Finally, something that isn’t oooh and ahhh amazing but is a really great piece for fans of aviation watches. The Heritage Pilot Ton-Up not only has one of the coolest watch names, it also features an aged-steel 45mm case, which might sound a bit try-hard hipster but genuinely looks great. The watch features the ever-reliable El Primero 4069 movement and has a column-wheel chronograph. The Heritage Pilot Ton-Up is priced at an enticing HK$58,900.