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The coolest (and weirdest) watches from this year’s Salon QP

The coolest (and weirdest) watches from this year’s Salon QP

Haute horology isn’t often discussed at on worn&wound. But once a year, Salon QP – #London’s three-day #watch extravaganza – offers an opportunity to geek out over some of the more esoteric offerings in the watch world.

For 2016, London’s own Brad Homes—a known contributor and moderator on Watchuseek—was tapped to gives us his take on what stood out at this year’s show. Enjoy!

Once again, many famous names in watchmaking and independent visionaries braved London’s November drizzle to wow the crowds at the Saatchi Gallery with a range of watches that intrigue, excite, inspire, or simply provoke. Due to the large number of magnificent watches on display and the limited number of hours in a day, it was impossible to dedicate as much time to each watch as they richly deserve. Fortunately, attention is often drawn to the more unusual or innovative timepieces.

Urwerk – Time Hunter X-Ray

Always a crowd-pleaser, Urwerk presented the Time Hunter X-Ray, the latest in a long line of unorthodox watches from the brand. Based on their EMC concept of a mechanical watch coupled with a hand-cranked electronic sensor over the balance to monitor beat rate and amplitude, this latest incarnation gets the full Urwerk treatment with a black PVD titanium case and a skeletonized dial.  Measuring and adjusting accuracy on the go is surely an appealing feature and manually winding the sensor brings about a child-like joy, but one will need to get comfortable with the 43mm wide x 51mm case and 125,000 CHF price tag for the privilege.

Rebellion – Prometheus

The combination of titanium case and lever to operate is something also shared by Rebellion with their striking Prometheus. The contrast of the angular and muted grey titanium case against the three-dimensional movement and time display in black and orange is bold, with a direct read of the hour and minute wheels beneath a huge sapphire crystal. The hour and minute wheels rotate in different directions and are driven by a mechanical chain transmission visible through the case sides. The lever that rises dramatically from the case is used to wind the six mainspring barrels and delivers an insane 1,000 hours of power reserve. For such a mean looking machine it is incredibly light and it would have been easy to walk away without realizing it was still on the wrist.

4N – MTV-01 Sapphire Planet

Black and orange must be this season’s colors as 4N presented their latest MTV-01 Sapphire Planet. The watch features a case made entirely from sapphire, meaning that all 10 discs used for the digital time display are always visible, as is the 78-jewel twin-barrel movement. Although sapphire crystals are commonplace, full sapphire cases are fairly rare due to the difficulty in working with the material. 4N joins the likes of Hublot, Richard Mille and MB&F with this offering. Nothing about the 4N Sapphire Planet is timid, including the size, and rightly so.

Ludovic Ballouard – the Upside Down Watch and the Half Time

Ludovic Ballouard’s approach to telling the time in an unusual way is done so with a more conventional case size, style and materials. To the unaware or uninterested, these are watches that could fly under the radar, but anything more than a cursory glance at the dial or movement reveals something special.  The Upside Down Watch uses 12 discs, one for each hour, which rotate so that only the current hour is displayed the right way up. Ballouard’s latest piece, the Half Time, takes the jumping hour concept a step further by using two discs around the outer edge of the dial–each containing half of a Roman numeral, and rotating in opposite directions. The correct hour appears in the window at the top of the dial and is the only hour around the dial that is not mismatched and broken. The watch also features retrograde minutes at the bottom of the dial leaving a strangely pleasing blank expanse in the center.

Vacheron Constantin – Métiers d’Art Elégance Sartoriale

Moving on to something more traditionally elegant, the Métiers d’Art Elégance Sartoriale series from Vacheron Constantin are quite possibly the prettiest modern dress watches available. The Calibre 1400 hand-wind movement seen through the display back is placed off-center and creates a large playground for the tailoring inspired patterns.

The Blue Tartan from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Elégance Sartoriale series

Each dial is hand-guilloched and coated in translucent enamel, while the Roman numerals are hand painted onto a mother of pearl hour track. Also featured in the series are Prince of Wales Check, Herringbone, Windowpane and Tennis Stripes. Any one of the five could be a perfect match worn under a suit and choosing a favorite is terribly difficult, but collecting the whole set at $54,000 each might be a stretch.

Moritz Grossmann – Benu Power Reserve

Moritz Grossmann’s Benu line contains three variations of a beautiful, classically styled watch in keeping with many others from the town of Glashütte. A three-hander with a small seconds sub-dial and a three-minute flying tourbillon are two of the trio, but the best is possibly the introduction of a linear power reserve scale onto the simple and clean dial which adds functionality without becoming a blemish.

The in-house 100.2 movement deserves some extra attention. It features an unusual mechanism to avoid the crown being left open for longer than necessary. The crown pulls away from the case to stop the seconds in the usual way, but then springs back into the case.  After setting the time, the pusher below the crown will start the seconds running again. The Benu is available in rose gold, white gold or

MB&F Horological Machine “Sherman”

Now let’s marvel over the latest MB&F Horological Machine.  This year’s invention – Sherman – is on hand to send one off into the night with a smile on his/her face knowing that the world of watchmaking has a very playful, friendly core.

There are plenty of places to see luxury watches in London, but not many opportunities to see watchmaking as an art, as an extravagance, and to speak to the people behind the creations. It’s also refreshing to spend a day among fine watches and come home without adding any watches to a realistic wish list… except possibly a Junghans. And a Christopher Ward. And maybe a Nomos.

For those who are UK-based or UK-bound, put a placeholder on the calendar for next year. Salon QP is a blast.

Photos © Brad Homes

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