The most complicated watch in the world, presented recently by Vacheron Constantin, came in the form of a huge pocket watch. With 57 high-end complications crammed into its 98mm case, for a weight of nearly a kilo, it remains the most extreme (and most unattainable, since only one piece has been made) variation on the theme. But three other brands have also recently launched new pocket watches, at both ends of the price spectrum.
At the more affordable end, Baume & Mercier and Frédérique Constant propose classically themed models. The Frédérique Constant Manufacture Pocket watch comes with a 45mm case in stainless steel or gold-plated steel and has a design that harks back to the most traditional of pocket watches, with a guilloche pattern on the dial and a circle of Roman numerals. With its double bow and pocket chain it certainly wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of the hit drama Downton Abbey. Inside the watch, however, beats a brand-new manually-wound version of Frédérique Constant’s FC-700 in-house designed and produced movement, with a fine circular graining and Côtes de Genève decoration and 42 hours of power reserve.
Baume & Mercier offers a limited-edition pocket watch in celebration of the brand’s 185th anniversary this year. The new watch, launched last week at Watches & Wonders in Hong Kong, comes in a 50mm diameter 18-carat red gold round case that has a distinctive bow at 12 o’clock. Insead of a pocket chain it has an unusual black lambskin strap. With alternating Arabic numerals and slender hour markers, and without a central seconds hand, it offers a slightly more modern design than the Frédérique Constant model. The slider protruding from the case between 4 and 5 o’clock also indicates that it has a special movement hidden inside: the Dubois-Depraz D73 manually wound calibre, which has the particularity of incorporating a five-minute repeater function.
Quatuor + Spider = Pocket Time Instrument
At the other end of the scale, Roger Dubuis has incorporated its mesmerizing RD101 calibre, which features four balance wheels oscillating independently, into a pocket watch whose design features all the typical Roger Dubuis hallmarks. These include the grooved bezel (quite unusual for a pocket watch) and a level of skeletonisation pushed to its logical conclusion with a skeletonized bow at 12 o’clock, not forgetting the most prestigious hallmark of all, the Poinçon de Genève, whose exacting standards all Roger Dubuis timepieces meet. Despite being the biggest of this trio of new watches, with a 60mm case diameter, it is also probably the lightest, thanks to its skeletonized movement and lightweight titanium case. But it is also the most expensive, by far. One of these avant-garde pocket watches will set you back a cool 415,000 Swiss francs.