Front & back

For collectors at the seriously high end, mechanical aesthetics can be as important as engineering brilliance

A Lange & Sohne
1815 Up/Down,

A century ago Germany’s A Lange & Sohne made some of the finest pocket watches in Europe. Its modern pieces retain the classic character of those past masterpieces, while taking finishing aesthetics to new levels of refinement. This time-plus-power reserve watch is a fine example.

Radiomir 1940 Oro Rosso £16,900

At just 42mm, this is pretty much as dainty as Panerai goes (still big for most watch brands), and makes for a tremendously wearable example of one of the Italian maison’s more old-fashioned looks. On view from behind is Panerai’s nicely architectural P.999 movement, made entirely in-house.

Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hours £40,800

In the first half of the last century Cartier developed an eccentric specialism in mystery clocks – timepieces in which the hands, affixed to rotating glass discs, seemed to float free of any mechanism. This year it’s brought the notion back, in watch-form. Not only does this require ingenious engineering, but the workings must be squeezed into a crescent around the opening.

Louis Vuitton
Tambour Twin Chrono, £50,000

This is the watch with which the luxury behemoth can finally be taken seriously as a watchmaker, after a period of heavy investment in facilities and skills. A double stopwatch with a third register to measure the difference between the other two, it’s intended for timing yacht races (yeah, right). Look out for it in the enormous store-within-a-store Vuitton is opening tonight in Selfridges.

Baume & Mercier
Clifton 10060 handwound in rose gold, £9,600
We’ll grant that Baume & Mercier isn’t generally bracketed with the other top-end names on this page, but this is one of-- the finest pieces the company has produced, perhaps ever. An exquisite bespoke movement from specialist maison La Joux-Perret is the nicely-finished heart of the handwound dress watch, which, at the price, offers a favourable alternative to the brands higher up the horological ladder.

Laurent Ferrier
Galet Classic Double Spiral Tourbillon

Yup, it costs as much as some supercars, but the Double Spiral Tourbillon is an absolute smasher from Patek Philippe’s former head of watchmaking. The movement, in which every angle, surface and edge is hand-finished to the tiniest tolerance, features a tourbillon with two inverse springs to average out the differences in rate. An epic example of fine horology that’s available in the UK exclusively through the Mount Street boutique William & Son.

Patek Philippe
Ref 5227R Calatrava,

That the Patek Calatrava, in its various forms, is the quintessential dress watch is a given; but is there a quintessential Calatrava? The new 5227R might just answer that question, with its magnificent officer caseback opening to reveal the lovely movement within. Patek being Patek, the hinge itself required over a year’s worth of R&D to perfect.