Pocket watches step up

Cate Blanchett wearing the IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition as a necklace  

The pocket watch may seem like an oxymoron today, but its time is far from over. In recent years, heritage manufactures such as Vacheron Constantin, Breguet and Patek Philippe have come up with imaginative ways to add these auction house staples to their recent collections. Even brands with a younger history, such as Parmigiani Fleurier, are embracing the concept.

Not only do 21st century updates range from newer materials such as stainless steel and high-tech ceramic, but also include convertible styles (a 2021 Bovet x Rolls-Royce collab gave us one that turns into a wristwatch and a desk clock!). A blend of tradition and modernity have also given us fine details such as skeletonised movements and tourbillon escapements.

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What’s most interesting is how the user demographic has changed. What was once tucked into trouser pockets and vests of three-piece suits are now being worn by women as pendants on chains or tucked into jeans and dresses. GaryG, the resident collector of online magazine Quill & Pad, recently wrote about his wife stringing an Audemars Piguet skeletonised pocket watch with a jewelled bezel on to a Victorian necklace to pair with her black sweater and LBDs. And more memorably, actor Cate Blanchett wore the IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition ‘150 Years’ rose-gold pocket watch as a necklace, framed by a bias-cut John Galliano suit, to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Here are a few options that will look great, no matter the gender or generation.

Pocket watches step up


The Equestrian Lepine is inspired from a 1927 metal pocket watch, with an engraved jockey and his horse, now on display at the Longines Musuem in St Imier. The new version has the motif of a horse flying over a jump stamped on the back cover. The Lépine’s rose gold case measures 49.5 mm and houses a manually-wound calibre L506 movement that offers 53 hours of power reserve and a frequency of 21,600 vph. The white-lacquered dial features easy to read black Arabic numerals and a minute ring with red Arabic numerals. And just like the original model, this Swiss watch features pink Breguet hands.

Pocket watches step up


The Pocket Mechanical Skeleton is a fresh take on a historical piece. The skeleton movement is undoubtedly the most impressive part of the Swiss manufacture’s watch. Arabic numerals on the dial complement it.

Pocket watches step up


The Pocket Watch 3 Days Oro Rosso PAM00447 and Oro Bianco PAM00529 are 50mm diameter. And the elegant cushion-shape of the Radiomir case has Paillonné enamelling — a technique of applying layers of translucent enamel over tiny pieces of gold or silver, known as paillons. “In the first decades of the 20th century, the Panerai Boutique was a point of reference for those who were looking for a pocket watch,” says CEO Jean-Marc Pontroue, talking about the Italian brand’s rich legacy with pocket watches. “The Radiomir resonates with the ethos of the brand. The Oro Rosso is a special edition made in only 50 pieces. It is equipped with the Panerai calibre P.3001/10 with a semi-skeletonised finish. The case has a hinged cover in red polished gold and is matched with a rare watch chain made with famous ‘Maglia Marina’ [reminiscent of anchor chains] that underlines the link of Panerai with the sea. For this reason, we have made the watch water resistant to 50 meters.”

Pocket watches step up


“The development of complicated pocket watches [LeCoultre created the first in the 19th century] brought many innovations to the maison. These pieces are an important part of our heritage and still serve as an inspiration for today’s timepieces,” says Catherine Rénier, CEO Jaeger-LeCoultre. A few years ago, the Swiss brand released the Duomètre Sphérotourbillon pocket watch in a limited number of three. In a 48mm white gold case and blue enamel re-imagining of the wrist watch, it is the first pocket watch with a sphérotourbillon, the multi-axis tourbillon equipped with a cylindrical balance with double terminal curves. The big change from the wristwatch is the moving of the crown to 12 o’ clock. You also need to appreciate the blue enamelling work and the hand-chiselled ‘grained’ texture on the dial, whose coarseness offers a textural contrast to the enamel.

Pocket watches step up

Cheers to 220

2021 marks the 220th anniversary of the Tourbillon, one of the greatest horological complications of all time. Created by master watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, it was the pocket watches’ upright position that had necessitated the invention. Making a full circle, in 2008, Breguet reissued a classic (Breguet N°160) as the Marie-Antoinette N°1160 and included complications like a minute repeater that on command struck hours, quarters and minutes, a full perpetual calendar, equation of time, and more.

“Pocket watches are testaments of the coming together of mechanical engineering and personal style. Its beauty is how effortlessly it can amalgamate with any look. Styling a pocket watch with a bandhgala and denims is a style statement in itself. My personal favourite is the Panerai 3 Days because of its brilliant watchmaking content and classic design,” says Raghavendra Rathore, menswear designer, who recently started collecting pocket watches.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 6:51:17 PM |

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