What would you do after spending US$60,000 on the oldest unopened bottle of Cognac from the 18th century?
That was what the people at Polish investment company Wealth Solutions had to think about after obtaining the 200ml bottle of Gautier 1762 at a Bonhams auction in New Year in 2014.
“We ended up with a dilemma over what to do with the bottle,” says Jakub Baginski, co-founder.
“About two years later, we came up with the idea of creating a series of watches with spirits inside. “After looking into [the idea], we realised nobody had ever put a spirit – a liquid – into a watch.”
The search for a horologer began and, Baginski says, it was decided that an independent watchmaker known for its innovative work would be best suited to take on such a pioneering project.
The Swiss watchmaker Armin Strom was eventually chosen because of its history of innovation, including creating the smallest hand-skeletonised watch, which earned it a place in the Guinness Book of Records in 1991.
“They told us they didn’t think it was possible,” Baginski says.
“But after a day, they called us back saying that after some research, they had decided it was doable.”
Six months later, the watch encapsulating the oldest cognac in the world, or what Baginski calls “the time machine”, became a reality.
The uncorking ceremony at the Bristol Hotel in Warsaw was both a much-anticipated and anxiety-inducing event.
No one could quite guess how the contents would hold up after centuries, but as the cork popped and the aroma filled the air, the slight anxiety turned into excitement.
After the lucky guests enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime chance to sample the rare nectar, drops of it were carefully preserved to create the 40-piece limited-edition Cognac Watch, designed by Claude Greisler, Armin Strom’s chief horologist.
Available in a stainless steel, 18ct rose gold or titanium case, the manual-winding watch consists of 117 components and is powered by the Armin Strom calibre AMW11 offering a five-day power reserve. The capsule containing the historical cognac is placed at 5 o’clock and the base plate is engraved with the motif of a bunch of grapes.
All of the pieces were sold in an exclusive presale before it was unveiled at 2016 Baselworld. It has also won a place in the Guinness World Records.
Riding on the success of the Whisky Watch, Wealth Solutions went on to purchase a 1780 bottle of Harewood rum from Hedonism Wines in London, for US$17,350.
The rare drops are to go into the Rum Watch – a Speake-Marin timepiece in a limited edition of 59.
The Swiss watchmaker founded by an Englishman seems to be an ideal creator for the timepiece containing the Caribbean nectar.
It is known to have produce exquisite and complicated timepieces that celebrate culture and history, such as the Grand Diamond Magister Dong Son Tourbillon with an 18ct red-gold dial etched with a motif inspired by ancient Dong Son bronze drums in prehistoric Vietnam, and the latest London Chronograph, powered by the Valjoux 92 calibre, made of parts preserved from pre-quartz watch era.
The Rum Watch, with a diameter of 42 millimetres (1.65 inches) for the men’s timepiece, or 38 millimetres for the women’s, features the spirit capsule on the multilayer dial at exactly 11 o’clock and the inscription “Stand fast the Holy Ghost” engraved on the case.
The crown is equipped with a cabochon made of aquamarine for titanium and steel version or rubelite for the gold version.
The automatic Calibre Vaucher 3002 has a power reserve of 50 hours and is water resistance up to 30 metres.
The spirit watch project garnered worldwide attention, and that of Sukhinder Singh, British collector of rare alcoholic beverages and the owner of The Whiskey Exchange.
He offered the oldest whisky in the world, Glenlivet 1862, to complete the trilogy.
The watchmaker identified was Louis Moinet, and was created in tribute to the eponymous legend who invented the chronograph and who had made timepieces for eminent figures such as Napoleon, Tsar Alexander I, King George IV and American presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.
Timepieces made by the modern-day Louis Moinet brand are Louis Moinet timepieces that are distinguished by the “Côtes du Jura” guilloche dials, “Gouttes de rosée” hands, and distinctive cases with screwed bezels.
It is also famous for incorporating extremely rare materials, such as tropical fossilised palm wood, dinosaur bone and meteorite fragments.
The 43-millimetre Whisky Watch, unveiled last April at the Singapore Yacht Show, features the capsule at 3 o’clock on the three-level dial with applied open-work hour-markers and the automatic LM45 calibre offering a power reserve of 48 hours.
Water resistant to up to 50 metres, the watch is available in steel in a limited edition of 40 pieces and just 10 pieces in gold
The three spirit watches are on show at The Lavish Attic in Central, and will remain there until the end of April.