Six classics that reinvent the past

Call them future classics if you like; in these watches time-honoured attention to detail meets modern mechanicals, making for a memorable mix.

Breguet Classique Tourbillon QP 3797BR

It was Breguet’s founder Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) who invented the gravity-countering tourbillon complication in 1801, and this masterpiece continues the tradition with not just a tourbillon, but also a perpetual calendar with a retrograde date, month and leap year displays. Cased in pink gold or platinum, with time-honoured clou de paris and guilloche finishes on the silver dial, note the sapphire disc carrying the hour markers – a contemporary touch aiding the clarity of the various displays. The result is a machine of beguiling beauty. Breguet Classique Tourbillon Quantieme Perpetual 3797 (pictured above).

Girard Perregaux Small SecondsGirard Perregaux 1966 Small Seconds

Reeking refinement, this GP has a refreshingly slim (10.01mm) gold case spanning 41mm, framing an elegant dial with simple rose-gold hour markers and hands. The dial itself is gently curved resulting in a look reminiscent of handsome 50s and 60s pieces, with discreet small seconds and date displays. A self-winding GP movement powers things and note the way the alligator strap integrates with the case with its subtle lugs. The perfect piece to have up your sleeve.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Utra Thin 1948

Jaeger LeCoultre Grand Reverso Ultra Thin 1948

The Reverso is Jaeger LeCoultre’s iconic veteran and one of the few watches with a truly unique case. Designed in the 1930s for polo players, you can flip it over while on the wrist, thus protecting the glass and dial from damage during play or whatever. With the dial side up, it presents the time, with the dial-side down you have a blank case-back which can be decorated or initialed as you wish. The Reverso here features a 1948 dial design that looks as fresh today as it did then, and the hand-wound movement gives you a nice connection with an ongoing classic.

Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity 2Maurice Lacroix Materpiece Gravity

Few recent releases have been as surprising as the Masterpiece Gravity, whose looks suggest something three times the $15,000-odd asking price. A deeply domed crystal reveals intricate workings – 188 components, with the main “assortment” (balance, escape wheel) in silicon – surrounded by traditional Clou de Paris and Grand Colimaçon patterning on a background of rhodium or black gold. Hours and minutes are displayed off-centre against a floating white lacquered dial which comes in two versions, contemporary with diamond-cut indexes, or classical with Roman numerals. The hours and minutes hands are rhodium plated on the former, thermally blued on the latter, while the 43mm cases are sandblasted PVD or satin-brushed steel. You’d never get tired of looking at the time.

  Omega Deville tresor 1

 Omega De Ville Tresor Master Co-Axial

Don’t be fooled; thoroughly modern mechanicals make this Omega as much a watch for tomorrow as a treasure influenced by the past. The manual-wind movement is Omega’s very latest chronometer-rated Master Co-Axial affair with a silicon balance spring (less wear, greater power reserve) and the ability to resist magnetic fields greater than 15,000 gauss. As for the looks, Omega took a 1949 model as inspiration and it shows: there’s a domed and vintage-patterned dial under a curved sapphire crystal, with polished gold indexes and hands, all presented in a 40mm Sedna-gold case water-resistant to 30 meters. Understated, but what a statement!

 CELLINI DUAL TIME - WHITE GOLD

Rolex Cellini Dual Time

The new Rolex Cellini manages to be one of the most handsome dual time watches thanks to giving the second time indication its own completely separate little dial with its own hours and minutes hands. With a sun or moon symbol indicating day or night, this is so much simpler to read than the common 24 hour scale which usually requires some calculation as to home time. In this watch just a quick glance tells you what you want to know, while at the same time the layout preserves admirably classic looks, again something impossible with watches that rely on a 24-hour bezel. An added bonus: you can adjust the time without stopping the watch. Inside, as you’d expect, beats a fine self-winding mechanical movement.

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