Wild boys! Wild boys! Wild boys! The wild boys are calling. No really, they are. OK, that was an oblique opening, and perhaps betrays my unfathomable fondness for British pop group Duran Duran, but in the past few weeks, I’ve been deluged with info on new watches from the “wild boys” of the industry: the upstart independents.
Last week we looked at three show-stoppers from the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, the first big watch fair of the year, but they were all from established brands. This week, we look at the Young Turks, the enfants terribles, the disrupters of the watch world, and their off-the-wall wares.
We are going to start with the Maestro Mamba, the latest wacky luxury timepiece from the irrepressible Christophe Claret. For those unfamiliar, Claret is a stone-cold genius when it comes to innovation in watchmaking but his mad-as-a-box-of-frogs timepieces – well, how do I put this diplomatically? – are total Marmite. Either you love his eccentricity or hate it, and after a quick glance at the Maestro Mamba it’s easy to see why. It’s a hard watch to love, but one you won’t forget, that’s for sure.
As the name and design would suggest, the watch is inspired by snakes, in particular the African mamba, and a “snake” coils itself around the movement, ready to strike, I suppose, out of the centre of the dial. Gimmicky, yes, but this is hard to execute and it does highlight the cutting-edge DMC16 movement in an interesting way.
The snake is quite arresting but the colour, particularly of the green snakeskin strap, is in your face (there’s another version in orange), so it’s all rather overwhelming. The 42mm case is titanium and the watch has a power reserve of seven days, but it would take a brave person to keep it on for that long.
Limited to 28 pieces in green or orange, the watch is priced at 96,000 Swiss francs (US$102,615).
From a watch that might give you nightmares to one that dreams are made of – the MB&F MoonMachine 2. This watch has been made in collaboration with another wild watchmaking genius, Stepan Sarpaneva, and is an amalgamation of an automotive-inspired piece, with a beautiful moonphase indicator. The car influence can be seen in the case, which is taken from the brand’s HM8 watch, itself an interpretation of a racing car’s engine block. The time indicator is also reminiscent of dashboard counters.
However, the real star here is Sarpaneva’s moon faces, which through mirrors are projected on to where the time is indicated at the bottom, and cleverly shows the phases of the moon. It’s tough to explain but there are YouTube videos illustrating what I mean.
The watch comes in two titanium versions (priced at 88,000 Swiss francs each) or red gold (95,000 Swiss francs) and is limited to 12 pieces in each.
Finally, we have something for the sci-fi nerd, the DeBethune DB28 Steel Wheels. DeBethune has had a bit of a financial wobble over the past few years and there were fears it would go under but, thankfully, it has new management and is still cranking out weird and wonderful watches such as this one.
The DB28 is DeBethune’s most famous watch, with the Star Trek-esque inverted V in the centre something of a signature and the same eye-catching lugs. The upgrade here with the Steel Wheels edition is the skeletonised dial, so you can see the DB2115V4 movement and it’s all the better for it.
There’s still a spherical planetoid moonphase indicator at the six o’clock position and the titanium case is sized at 42.6mm. Limited to 25 pieces, the watch is priced at 83,000 Swiss francs.