As always, this time of the year is full of pleasant comparisons. You take some outstanding watches and put them against others, usually totally different and equally charming. And while the actual judgment goes only to the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève jury, who can keep themselves from having personal preferences, right? We felt especially happy to see some really small and sometimes unsung brands reaching shortlist, and decided to highlight four very special watches, that could be slightly overlooked considering how broad is this year’s competition.
Table of contents
Petermann Bédat Dead Beat Second – Men’s category
Aesthetically speaking, this beauty in a 39-mm round red gold case rings all the classical horology bells. But the idea of the Dead Beat Second by the duo of independent watchmakers Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat, previously involved in restoration and working for some big brands, goes much further. As the name suggests, it’s a three hander with a jumping seconds function, however the execution is very distinctive and original. The sector dial is partially open-worked in a peculiar way, revealing the parts that don’t usually get the spotlight: some rubies, levers, and plates, all nicely finished of course.
The in-house hand-wound 1967 movement is a complex beast, despite being ironically named after the year the first quartz watch came into industrial production. Beating at 2,5 Hz it has a power reserve of 36 hours, and the transparent caseback view is simply breathtaking. The mainplate, the wheel train, the large 11,5 balance wheel, and a stunning swan neck regulator: seeing it in the wild would make you instantly rush for your loupe. The Petermann Bédat Dead Beat Second is a 10-piece limited edition. The price is CHF 64’400.
Bernhard Lederer Central Impulse Chronometer – Chronometry category
A renowned master-watchmaker and a member of Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants Bernhard Lederer came up with a very special watch. Yes, it’s a three-hander with small seconds at 8 o’clock and a partially openworked slate grey dial. What’s the catch? The answer might lie is the so-called natural escapement, previously being experimented on by the greats like Abraham-Louis Breguet and George Daniels. Anyway, there’s plenty of crazy complicated mechanical stuff going on here for the manually wound movement involves two alternating constant force remontoires and two separate gear trains, each with a dedicated barrel.
The watch even ticks in an unconventional way with a unique sound made by one of remontoires every 5 seconds. The regular sweep is super quite. What’s even better, all the essential mechanical fiesta is right before our eyes on the dial side. And thanks to the skeletonization, the rear view is pure watch porn. The Central Impulse Chronometer comes in a 44-mm white gold case and is limited to 50 pieces. The price is CHF 138’700.
Theo Auffret Tourbillon in Paris – Chronometry category
Again, a watch by an independent watchmaker, this time a very young we might add, in case someone still thinks fine mechanical craftsmanship is a dying breed. Born in 1995, Theo Auffret has a background in restoration, and his Tourbillon in Paris shows some obvious love for the classical if not antique horology. The 38-mm case is made of platinum, gold, silver or steel and is complimented by hand made silver or gold dials. It’s a regulator watch of rare symmetry, despite featuring only two indications: a central minute hand and an hour sub-dial at 4:30. Two other essential architectural element are a huge 14-mm tourbillon carriage and a barrel.
The Tourbillon in Paris is powered by a manually wound movement beating at 3Hz and providing a 50-hour power reserve. It’s a 20-pieces limited series priced at around CHF 114’000. The word ‘around’ is needed here because we’re talking a small independent production, where almost any kind of personalization or decorative options are available.
Behrens Inventor Apolar – Calendar and Astronomy category
While competing in a rather heavyweight category, Behrens Apolar is easily the most affordable piece of the bunch. Still, with a retail price of just CHF 2500 it can give hard time to any shortlisted watch in terms of distinctive time telling. And yes, there’s another quite interesting Behrens piece presented in the Challenge category, but that’s a different story. The main focus here, as one might guess, goes into the in-house mechanical module making the dial indications this unconventional.
Coming in a steel 42-mm case and armed with a bullet-proof 2824 automatic movement, the Inventor Apolar indicates hours and minutes via two discs at 7 and 5 as well as central seconds in the form of a tiny double-edged indication. The centerpiece of the minimalistic blue-grey dial is the mighty planet duo consisting of a rotating globe representing a 24-hour indicator and a three-dimensional moon orbiting around via a metal ring. And if that’s not enough to consider a watch of this price range at least interesting, then we don’t know what is.
Oct. 25, 2020