It’s been a busy week for the watch industry, what with the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair, including Prince Jewellery’s delightfully named World Brand Piazza, taking place at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, in Wan Chai. I probably should have given people with a floating interest in watches a heads-up but I got too riled by the grift-off between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor (I’m still annoyed by the whole farce).
Anyway, if you missed the fair and all the satellite events, I’m here to give you the cheat notes on what was hot (sadly, I don’t have room for what was not), especially at the World Brand Piazza, where 13 of the top Swiss brands smiled flirtatiously and flashed a bit of ankle at attendees. One of the lookers was the Sextant (right), by Juvenia, a watch that’s caught the eye of one Johnny Depp and it’s easy to see why Captain Jack Sparrow would be enamoured as it has a certain eccentric charm. The standout feature, of course, is the placement of the hands, which takes its inspiration from a navigator’s instrument. Here, the protractor is the hour hand, the arrow the minutes and the compass needle the seconds.
It does look cool and different, and you will be surprised to know that the design comes from the 1940s, so there’s some vintage cache here, too, that will prove catnip to hipsters. The big, modern style concession Juvenia has made is increasing the size of the steel case from 34mm to 40mm. Inside is a decent automatic movement and there’s an exposed caseback.
The Juvenia Sextant is priced at HK$81,000.
Next we have a watch from DeWitt. Some years ago, I met the owner, Jerome DeWitt, and I was struck by two things: first that he had gloriously snowy mutton chops and second he loved to tell anyone who would listen that he was directly descended from Napoleon. Neither of these things have any bearing on the watches but I needed to share the first thing, and I’m sure he’s happy I shared the second.
The DeWitt that stood out this past week was the Tourbillon Force Constante à Chaîne (right), from the Academia collection, and it’s a peach not just because it’s blinged out with diamonds. The design, as with all DeWitts, has an element of steampunk, a kind of Jules Verne-era type of machinery feel about it. There’s cogs and gear trains and all sorts on show on the dial with DeWitt keen to display the DW8050 movement, which boasts a number of patents.
Much of the technical trickery here relates to the power-reserve indicator but it’ll take too many words to explain, and, if I’m honest, I wasn’t exactly wowed by it. The design is the star and the addition of diamonds should appeal to the super-rich who want something a bit different.
The Tourbillon Force Constante à Chaîne is priced at HK$7.68 million.
Finally, we have a watch from a jeweller, the Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar (top). Hip-hop fans will recognise Jacob & Co as “Jacob the jeweller”, who seemed to be namechecked constantly by rappers in the 2000s. Indeed, in 2015, the New York Observernewspaper estimated that Jacob Arabo had 68 mentions in rap songs. Yes, another superfluous fact that I felt like sharing.
Anyway, what Jacob & Co is good at is eye-catching pieces and the Astronomia Solar is definitely that. It features a technically innovative double axis tourbillon movement that rotates clockwise 360 degrees every 10 minutes, carrying the eight “planets” made of precious stones around the “sun”, a 1.5 carat citrine diamond. Inside is an in-house JCAM19 movement that has 48 hours of power reserve.
The Astronomia Solar is priced at HK$2.8 million, which is chump change to the average hip-hop star.