Milestone editions enable watchmakers to highlight their expertise, enhance their collections and offer connoisseurs new special-edition pieces.
Vacheron Constantin celebrated its 260th anniversary last year with a one-off masterpiece. Commissioned by a collector, it contained 57 complications that revealed all the maison’s mechanical marvels. This year, the watchmaker marks the 20th anniversary of its Overseas collection, which followed the brand’s tentative forays in the 1970s into luxury, stainless-steel sports watches – an attempt to stem the flow of the quartz crisis threatening the Swiss watch industry at the time.
The watch, simply referenced as “the 222”, remained in production until the mid-1980s, and returned with a facelift as the first-generation Overseas collection in 1996. Like all collections, it has evolved with tweaks, additions and amendments, and the introduction of complications such as the chronograph.
Having produced about 60,000 pieces in the collection, Vacheron Constantin has introduced two new in-house movements for this anniversary, and as part of its new focus on making inner workings.
The Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is the collection’s most complicated piece. It is an elegant sports watch with a svelte, 7.5mm-thick white gold case and sunburst, grey minimalist dial minus a date window or seconds hand. The collection also includes the 36mm Small Model with a diamond bezel, as well as an entry level stainless-steel version that is as close to the 222 as any watch in the collection gets. Another notable tweak to the overall design is a new strap incorporating the Maltese cross that is a Vacheron Constantin emblem.
Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele decided 20 years ago to begin the development of an initial base calibre, the L.U.C 1.96, that would become the cornerstone of the Chopard manufacture. Since then, the manufacture has grown from three employees to 190 and produced complications such as the chronograph and perpetual calendar.
To mark the 20th anniversary of its journey to becoming a manufacture, Chopard is launching its first world time watch, the L.U.C Time Traveler One, which tracks every time zone on a dial based on concentric layers; a 24-hour graduated ring referencing 24 main time zones and cities, while an outer railway track reads off the local time zone. It comes as a platinum and blue dialled version; a rose gold and a sportier stainless-steel version.
While the quartz movement was feared by much of the Swiss watch industry, Piaget was sufficiently far-sighted enough to see the potential for both. The watchmaker’s finesse with ultra-thin mechanical movements is well-documented, but less known is that Piaget also helped develop the earliest quartz movements in the 1970s and produced its first, the Piaget also celebrates the 40th anniversary of its 7P. The maison commemorates the anniversary with a mechanical movement regulated by a high-precision quartz oscillator. The movement debuts in the Emperador Coussin XL 700P, with a skeletonised dial that exposes the black-coated movement with hand-finished bridges, wheels and screws.
Also celebrating its 40th anniversary is Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak for women.
Meanwhile, Cuban cigar maker Cohiba celebrates its 50th anniversary with Zenith’s El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Cohiba. The collection displays Cohiba’s orange on select gears, visible through a dial cutout, and with its black dot motif running down the face. This collaboration is limited to 50 gold versions and 500 stainless-steel models, Cohiba says. Alfred Dunhill, IWC, Hermès and Blancpain have all made similar associations, and Frederique Constant made a Cohiba timepiece that came with its own humidor, stocked with the cigars in 2010.