Futuristic watches: Going the distance

We flag the new year off with watches that bend and twist the rules of horology to display a futuristic way of viewing time

de bethune 28 steel wheels sapphire tourbillon

A decade ago, we might have believed that the watches of the future would largely look like those in sci-fi movies; watches that would respond to voice commands, have video calling features, in-built GPS systems, or even drive your car. Fast forward to today, and a large part of that has become a reality with smart watches. But what does ‘futuristic watches’ mean when it comes to mechanical timepieces? Some watchmakers believe that even mechanical watches can be made futuristic with design, complications, and the use of exotic materials.

Coming in a wide variety of forms, from eco-powered to extreme engineering, futuristic mechanical timepieces of today provide the wearer with a one-of-a-kind experience. 

Pushing the boundaries of conventional design and principles, these watches explore a new dimensions of horology. Unique, limited to a few pieces, and bursting with technical prowess, here are six stunning futuristic timepieces whose approach to time is lightyears ahead. 

Also read: Super-luminova: 6 luxury watches that promise unmatched legibility in the dark

De Bethune 28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon

Price: Rs1.58 crore (approximately) 

For its 10th anniversary in 2020, De Bethune unveiled the DB 28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon, limited to just 10 pieces. This timepiece is different from other tourbillons due to the addition of a blued sapphire crystal bridge to the open-worked design of its dial, alongside blued titanium bevelled rings around the twin barrels. Cased in a mirror-polished Grade 5 titanium, turn the watch over and you see a power reserve indicator with ‘De Bethune’ circular graining. Powering this watch is the manual wound calibre DB2019V5, composed of 272 parts with silicon escape-wheel and power reserve of 5 days. The watch is complete with an alligator leather strap and a pin buckle polished in Grade 5 titanium. 

jacob and co twin turbo furious in blue titanium

Jacob & Co. Twin Turbo Furious in Blue Titanium

Price: On request

Jacob & Co creates incredibly complicated watches, and the latest addition to the Twin Turbo Furious series is a version in Blue Titanium. The Twin Turbo series pays tribute to high-performance hypercars, its design inspired by pit boards and fuel gauge settings. With everything laid out on the dial, wearers can get a look at the highly complex mechanism, featuring two triple axis tourbillons, up close. The watch is mammoth, with a 57mm x 52mm case, and is powered by the JCFM05 manual-winding tourbillon movement made up of 832 components. Its functions also include a decimal minute repeater, a monopusher chronograph, and a reference time differential. Limited to only 18 pieces, the watch has a power reserve of 50 hours. 

Also read: World timer watches for men: All the time in the world

ressence type 2n

Ressence Type 2N

Price: Rs36.3 lakh (approximately) 

One of the most innovative and independent watchmakers of today, Benoit Mintiens of Ressence first launched the Type 2 in 2018, when it became the first mechanical watch with a smart crown (e-Crown®). The e-Crown® enabled the watch to automatically adjust to the right time once set. For the 2021 edition, Mintiens has added a brighter, more classical colourway — Night Blue — to the clean and ultramodern design. The 45mm case now comes in a Grade 5 titanium as opposed to the matte black PVD of previous iterations. It is water resistant to 10mts.

The wearer can tap the domed sapphire crystal twice to switch on the timepiece, and single taps allow you to designate one of four modes: Time zone 1, Time zone 2, e-Crown off, and Bluetooth connection. The Type 2N uses light energy to power the e-Crown® — photovoltaic cells (some hidden behind 10 micro-shutters on the dial) use light as an energy source. When the e-Crown is turned off, the watch is completely manual. Precision at night is further amped up with ultra bright blue Super-LumiNova. Powering this watch is a ETA 2892-A2 based ROCS (Ressence Orbital Convex System) 2 automatic movement, which gives this timepiece a 36-hour power reserve. 

Also read: Best black-and-white luxury watches for men: When opposites attract

mbandf horological machine sapphire vision

MB&F Horological Machine No. 9 Sapphire Vision

Price: Rs3.26 crore (approximately) 

This timepiece is inspired by the aerodynamic lines that dominated plane and automobile design from 1940s to 1950s. Evocative of a jet engine, its highly complicated case encloses a complex in-house movement, in which twin balance wheels beat independently on each flank of the watch, while the central body reveals the gearbox. The wearer can clearly see most of the 301 components that are on display, thanks to the sapphire case.

This limited- edition 57mm x 47mm x 23mm timepiece comes in four iterations, each limited to only five pieces: two with an 18K red gold frame, combined with either an NAC-coated black or a PVD-coated blue movement; and two editions with 18K white gold frames, which showcase a PVD-coated purple or a red gold-plated movement. The timepiece is powered by a manual-winding in-house movement with dual, fully independent balance wheels with planetary differential with a 2.5Hz frequency and a 45-hour power reserve. 

Also read: Best split-seconds chronographs for men: Race against time

urwerk 112 aggregat

Urwerk 112 Aggregat

Price: Rs2.04 crore (approximately) 

Inspired by the grille of the Bugatti Atlantique, the beauty of the Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat lies in the complexity of its gears. The hour, minutes, and seconds in this futuristic watch are fully digital, with the hours and minutes displayed on triangular prisms, which in themselves seem like floating mechanisms. Each of the 12 numerals is engraved and then filled with Super-LumiNova, and cased inside an anthracite body with black sides.

The name of the watch represents the energy that is derived from a single source, which powers all the displays and mechanisms. This is done via a long, thin rod that connects the body and head of the UR-112. A complex set of cogs and gears allows this axis to transmit all the energy required. The movement is the Calibre UR 13.01, with a 48-hour power reserve, set inside a hunter case with a hinged titanium protective cover. The watch is a limited-edition of 25 pieces, and has a water resistance of 30 mts.

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