5 Fine Watches for Summer Eventing
To my mind, the start of summer never comes soon enough. Formal types point to 1st or 21st June respectively – depending on whether they’re led by meteorological or astronomical calendars – but, as it may, the British summer season is upon us with a raft of events in the offing, any one of which may prompt a wrist wardrobe update. So, whatever your summer occasion of choice, here are some timepieces to suit your season ahead.
There can be few more natural bedfellows than world-class opera and high-calibre watchmaking, particularly when the watch is of the dressier kind. The Glyndebourne Festival’s sophisticated open-air and elevated-picnic vibe (forecasts pending) are the perfect tableau for the latest expression of Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date. The elegant simplicity of this watch’s round platinum case is spiced up by a lush salmon dial, but its signature is a double retrograde display whereby two hands keep track of the day and date like a virtuoso conductor commanding an orchestra. Vacheron Constantin is calling this the year of the retrograde – and only making this watch available in its boutiques – including ours here in Fine Watches on the Ground Floor.
You need not spend long examining the architecture of Hublot’s astonishing MP-11 (‘MP’ stands for masterpiece) to see the correlation to a supercar. As the dial inscription attests, this is a mechanical watch with a 14-day power reserve – the watchmaking equivalent of housing 1,000 horsepower under a bonnet. This unfeasibly long period of autonomy is achieved by the movement’s seven barrels (a mechanical battery, essentially) paired in series, which are locked in place under a bubbled sapphire to give the watch its uncompromising, high-tech aesthetic. That look is made more technical still by the fusion of Hublot’s scratch-proof Magic Gold – a gold and ceramic blend – with black rubber.
Audemars Piguet’s knack for kickstarting watchmaking trends peaked first in 1972 with the introduction of the Royal Oak luxury stainless steel sports watch, and then again in 1993 with the even sportier Royal Oak Offshore – inspired by the worlds of sailing and high-powered water sports. History tells that neither was an overnight success, and yet time has shown both to be landmark designs that spawned myriad copycats. In the model’s 30th anniversary year, Audemars Piguet has revisited the all-black edition of the watch known as the End of Days thanks to its appearance in the eponymous 1999 film for which it was designed in collaboration with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The modern confection has the same black (now in ceramic) and yellow detailing, and is limited to 500 pieces.
Since its humble beginnings a little over three decades ago, Goodwood has become a fixture in the British summer calendar, drawing the world’s most spectacular cars, bikes and people to take part in the Duke of Richmond’s famous hillclimb. As its reputation has revved up, so luxury watch companies have vied to be its official timekeeper – a title currently held by Swiss hyperwatch creator Roger Dubuis. Among the elite watchmaker’s current cohort of fuel-injected timepieces is this titanium – and therefore extremely lightweight – version of its Excalibur. The movement is skeletonised, too, further reducing its weight and resulting in a watch that looks like it was designed exclusively for speed.
Before wristwatches were watches as we know them, they were pilot’s watches – wrist-tools to aid navigation, fuel economy calculations and so on. Zenith got in on the act before the rest, so that shortly after the Wright brothers made their first flight, it cemented its exclusive right to use the word ‘pilot’ on a watch dial. Remarkably, the brand still holds that right, reiterated by this year’s Pilot Big Date Flyback, a natty companion for an outing to the Royal International Air Tattoo, perhaps. The flyback chronograph resets and restarts with a single push of a button, while the Big Date at six o’clock skips forward in an invisible-to-the-naked-eye 0.03 seconds. Bonus points: it comes with two straps, too.