Feature: More insane hyperwatches you won't believe exist
There are watches, and then there’s these, some of the craziest hyperwatches ever made, all in one place. With a big thanks to Art In Time for letting us shoot these crazy timepieces.
H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater 1904-0400
At first glance this opening watch may not seem all too much like a hyperwatch, but that’s the beauty of the H. Moser Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon. Some high complication watches shout about every last detail from the rooftop, whereas this quietly grumbles them to you between puffs of a cigar.
Within the sculpted 40mm rose gold Endeavour case—which hides incredible details like the unevenly tapered bezel, which hangs lower top and bottom, and the concave case sides, hand finished to a polish—are not one, not two, but three incredible examples of watchmaking excellence.
First is the one-minute tourbillon, affixed on one side only in a flying arrangement so the top side is completely unobstructed. Next is the minute repeater, whose gongs act like an electric fence between the case and the dial, free floating in the cavity between. Last and perhaps most subtle, is the dial itself. Moser dials are always incredible, and this one is no exception. Hammered gold is enamelled in a fumé style from light to dark blue that looks a bit like a bird’s eye view of the coastal Bahamas.
And as if the dial side weren’t intricate enough, the case back view is even more impressive, layered like a spiral staircase of watch parts that have all been finished to within an inch of the watchmaker’s life. Not only has it got a massive 90-hour power reserve, this watch also gets the highest tier of finishing on every facet, and it should, being a twenty-piece limited edition with a sticker price of $365,000.
Laurent Ferrier Square Micro-Rotor Autumn LCF013.AC.RG1
Continuing the simple watch theme, this Laurent Ferrier Square Micro-Rotor Autumn will almost certainly fly under the radar—but it really shouldn’t. It’s the work of the former Patek Philippe Technical Director Laurent Ferrier, who worked on the original Nautilus prototype.
Within the 41mm stainless steel cushion case is a copper-coloured dial, brushed and decorated with hands and markers sharper than a freshly opened SD card packet. They’re minimal for sure, but a gentle curve and a mercury-like polish hint at the level of expertise going on here.
It’s in the calibre FBN229.01 where we see the extent of the 47,500 CHF price in action, a micro rotor movement that takes decoration to the very extreme. Not only is the bridge architecture very unusual with the skinny rotor bridge and axe-like balance bridge, but every opportunity to show off traditional finishing techniques has been taken.
There’s a reason the relatively unknown Laurent Ferrier has developed such a cult following, and it’s because of this high level of finishing. The bevels are thick and the polishing deep, missing no chance to catch the light and make it sparkle.
But it’s not all show and no go, because inside the calibre is Ferrier’s execution of Breguet’s natural escapement, which has not one but two escape wheels, meshed together to create a self-starting movement that combines the best of both the detent and lever escapements.
MB&F HM3 FrogX
When one thinks of watches, one immediately thinks of frogs. No? Just Max Büsser then, who with his friends created the MB&F HM3 FrogX, a globular watch in sapphire with two domed time-telling apertures and a top-mounted rotor weight that would go on to inspire the more affordable MAD1.
Taking its form from the Proteus submarine in the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage, the latest FrogX edition sandwiches a coloured gasket between two pieces of sapphire to specifically mimic the transparent glass frogs of the South American rainforests. The black markers from which to read the hours and minutes also imitate the slit-like pupil of a froggy eye.
Built onto a so-heavily-modified-it’s-barely-recognisable Girard-Perregaux calibre, the whole thing has been flipped upside down so the typically hidden case back view comes to life up front. What is hidden, however, is the secret battle axe iconography that’s repeated from the rotor weight onto a specially sculpted micro-forming on the crown, which bends light to project the image onto a nearby surface. The cost of such witchcraft? 138,000 CHF.
Bovet Récital 22
If you like your hyperwatches with a flair for the traditional, but still want to capture all the complexity of a steampunk time machine, then the Bovet Recital 22 is exactly what you’re looking for. A snip at $470,000, the watch contains 669 parts and five patents, and has more going on than a Victor Wooten bassline.
Within the angled 43.6mm precious metal case is a movement that can run for a whopping nine days, which when you learn how much that movement can actually do, starts to border on the ridiculous. This is no time only ticker, containing not just a power reserve for those nine long days, but a retrograde minutes counter and a one minute tourbillon on the front, but also the day, month, leap year and double-sided, retrograde date disk on the back too. By double-sided, I mean it can also be read through a convenient magnifying glass from the front.
But that’s not all. Far from it. You’ll notice the tourbillon, in yellow gold, indicates the sun. That’s because the time-telling aspect of the watch doesn’t just show the twenty-four hour clock, but also the rotation of the Earth in relation to the sun and even the moon and its phases orbiting around it.
If all that sounds like it would be a complete pain to reset should the watch run out of its nine days of power reserve, Bovet has placed a convenient pusher at twelve o’clock that advances everything forward by exactly one day. Genius.
MB&F HM9 SV
We’re back with MB&F for one of its craziest concoctions, the $500,000 HM9 Sapphire Vision. Housed entirely in sculpted sapphire, this angled driver’s watch allows the time to be read without the driver removing their hands from the steering wheel.
The form of the watch takes inspiration from the obsession for aerodynamics that sprang up in the 50s and 60s. Okay, so those aerodynamics may have been as much guesswork as they were science, but boy did they produce some interesting shapes—and the HM9 SV is certainly an interesting shape.
The mechanism inside can be viewed from literally any angle, where it’s revealed that the two bulbous elements of the case each store a separate escapement. Watches usually only have one escapement, so here there’s a large, centrally mounted differential to combine the two sources of regulation together to get theoretically more accurate timekeeping.
The differential, appropriate to the driver’s theme of the car, acts just like the one that splits power from the central driveshaft to the two wheels at the back of a rear-wheel-drive automobile. The two free-spinning propellers beneath the balance wheels also look like they’re there to do something functional and important, but the reality is they’re just for the fun of it.
Of all these crazy watches, which is your favourite and why?