Fashion Brands Prove They Can Make Great Watches at Baselworld
I just got done looking at approximately 567 timepieces and jewelry in four days.
I'm in Switzerland for Baselworld, the annual meeting of the horological minds (plus me). But don't panic: I'm leaving the truly technical coverage of the show to the real watch journalist, my colleague Stephen Pulvirent. (See his roundups on dress watches and sports watches here.) But since I do know a thing or two about good taste, I rounded up a little best-of list of my own. And while the watches below don't match the newsworthiness of the Tag Heuer smartwatch announcement or the high-wattage glitz of the $40 million diamond-covered jeweled timepiece by Graff, they're pretty special in their own right.
Below, check out five of my favorite watches from the high fashion labels. Some are more technical than others, but all are worthy of consideration (along with the Tudor North Flag, which features the brand's first in-house movement) to be your next eye-catching wrist accessory.
Louis Vuitton Escale Minute Repeater Worldtime
Legit Stats: This puzzling (yet awesome) watch features Louis Vuitton's in-house minute repeater movement, which it introduced in 2011, inside the worldtimer it launched last year—its first really exciting watchmaking effort from its manufacturing center, La Fabrique du Temps.
Style Notes: The hand-painted dial features 38 colors (depicting the initials of 24 cities worldwide) that are applied one by one in a minuature oil-painting process that lasts more than 40 hours. The crown, horn, and bezel are 18k pink gold, while the case in titanium and measures 44mm. (Price upon request, louisvuitton.com)
Hermès Slim d'Hermès
Legit Stats: This strikingly handsome timepiece, part of the first designer series by the French label in 20 years, features a slender 39.5mm case with a mechanical, self-winding movement and is also available in 32mm and 25mm with quartz technology. (The latter is the one above with the red strap, which also happens to be a huge trend among women's watches.)
Style Notes: Parisian graphic designer Philippe Apeloig, a longtime collaborator of Hermès, created the clean, art deco-inspired numerals and typography. The leather straps (available in alligator and other materials) are crafted at the Hermès factory in Brügg, Switzerland. ($8,500 - $38,900, hermes.com)
Burberry the Britain Icon Check
Legit Stats: This limited edition men's watch (only 20 will be made) features a 45mm DLC (diamond-like carbon)-coated titanium case, a skeleton dial, and a mechanical movement with manual winding.
Style Notes: Inspired by the lining of the brand's iconic trench coats, which made their debut in the 1920s, the men's piece features its now familiar rounded octagonal shape with distinctive bolts. For women, I love the more simplified, made-to-measure rose gold option on a tonal patent strap. It's feminine and simple, yet strong and statement-making—making it very identifiably Burberry. ($19,500 for the Britain Icon Check for him; $2,100 for her, burberry.com)
Dior Chiffre Rouge C05
Legit Stats: Although Dior really excels at "mini haute couture" with its ladies timepiece collections, such as the Dior VIII Grand Bal (I love its just-released feather "Cancan" piece, above), it's often the company's once-a-season menswear piece that really shines. The new C05 is a limited edition, Swiss-made automatic 38mm, Elite 682 caliber by Zenith (Dior's LVMH bedfellow) with a second time zone that will really speak to the modernist Dior Homme man.
Style Notes: The new C05 features a silvered opaline dial decorated with flashes of yellow gold. The case is brushed stainless steel, and the strap is made of black, perforated calfskin. The screwed-in crown features the watch's only color, a red lacquered circle. ($8,050 for the Co5; $59,000 for the Cancan, dior.com)
Legit Stats: These watches are Swiss-made quartz, from the Roman luxury brand known for its deep heritage and detailed craftsmanship. The house introduced watches in 1988, as a licensee, but took the development and design in-house (under LVMH) about two years ago. The interchangeable watch-strap system used on the Selleria is top-notch in both aesthetics and performance—making it a beautiful and simple way for a woman to utilize her timepiece as a truly flexible accessory.
Style Notes: The watch is stainless steel with a yellow gold-plated bezel. The geometric design on the mother-of-pearl dial is inspired by a 1971 sketch by longtime creative director Karl Lagerfeld, depicting the crisscross, overlapping design of the fashion house's iconic Astuccio fur. The leather strap features tone-on-tone hand-stitching using Fendi's Cuoio Romano leather; the same leather and technique used on its famous Selleria handbag collection. ($1,340-$1,545, fendi.com)
Nic Screws is the style director for Bloomberg. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.