The 2014 Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix holds a lot of excitement as we head towards the final stages, with the announcement of the “pre-selected” watches in September and the the winners in late October. Easily one of the most beloved categories is the striking watch category. This segment of the watch world – where timepieces chime the time in all their beauty – fields seven entrees in the competition. Here, we take a look at three top brands and how their striking watches stack up.
Christophe Claret Soprano
Long known as the master of chiming watches, Christophe Claret has been building repeaters and chiming watches for decades – first for other brands and now for his own brand. The incredible Soprano represents his work at its finest. Ensconced in a pink gold and titanium case, this work of art houses a manual-wind mechanical movement with 72 hours of power reserve. The 45mm watch offers hours, minutes and minute repeater – with a dial-less construction that allows for viewing of much of the movement. Part of the Christophe Claret Montres a Complications Traditionnelles collection, this one of a kind piece (which retails for 532,000 Swiss francs) is a tourbillon minute repeater with four patented cathedral gongs that strike Westminster chimes to emulate the sound of Big Ben. The gongs circle the perimeter of the movement twice instead of the typical once in most other gong watches – to ensure a rich sound, which is further enhanced by the titanium’s superb acoustics. The majesty of the hammer and gongs, along with the Charles X style bridges and the 60-second tourbillon, makes this watch a mesmerizing and audible masterpiece.
Bulgari Ammiraglio Del Tempo
Another intriguing nominee this year comes from Bulgari in the form of the Ammiraglio Del Tempo timepiece. Created in the famed Daniel Roth case design, the bold 45.75mm 18-karat pink gold case houses an exemplary manual wind movement with minute repeater. The watch is equipped with four hammers and gongs, as well as a repeater with a Westminster chime. What sets the watch apart – as if the above isn’t enough – is the fact that the grand complication watch incorporates an innovative repeater slide. In fact, one of the lugs is mobile and glides from 7 o’clock to 8 o’clock to trigger the sound. Additionally, the Ammiraglio Del Tempo is equipped with a detent escapement and a constant force device for uniform regulation. In total, the elaborate movement consists of 516 parts. Just 20 pieces will ever be made, each retailing for about 350,000 Swiss francs.
Breguet Classique La Musicale
While the above two watches are masters of repeating and chiming prowess – deftly displaying their movements and chimes for the world to see in operation – then the Breguet Classique La Musicale is a master of sound and illusion. This stunning and creative 48mm timepiece, with self-winding mechanical movement and 55 hours of power reserve, offers not just hours and minutes, but also an alarm and a musical interlude.
The reference 7800 features a patented musical mechanism and rotating disk dial that work together harmoniously to offer sound and sight delights. Crafted in 18-karat rose gold, the watch is equipped with the Breguet self-winding 777 movement with silicon escapement and balance spring. As to the music portion, this Classique plays Johann Sebastian Bach’s Badinerie via a mechanism that resembles a music box. However, instead of the traditional cylinder that most music boxes employ, the watch features a disc system, with sound being amplified via an engine-turned membrane in metallic glass under the movement that enables the caseback to have apertures and higher resonance. The patented system enables great sound without sacrificing the 30-meter water resistance of the watch. As the music plays, the dial disks rotate for a fully orchestrated symphony. The watch is sold with a specially made Alpine spruce box that acts as a soundboard and underscores the brands’ commitment to music. It retails for 87,500 CHF.