28 Show-Stopping Timepieces, From Sports Styles to Tourbillons

Beauty and brains collide in the year’s most fetching watches

The watch market circa 2011 is a study in contradictions. Take the latest crop of slender, über-simple watches. It’s a remarkably sober selection, collectively inspired by a refined, retro style. At retail, however, the boom in the bold and bulky sports watch segment—led by Hublot, Breitling, and, of course, Rolex—implies that consumers have yet to get the thin-is-in memo. Now, consider the recent history of the tourbillon. A pricey, once-esoteric complication patented by Abraham-Louis Bréguet in 1801 to offset the effects of gravity on the gears of a mechanical timepiece, the tourbillon became the ultimate symbol of excess during the boom years. French for “whirlwind,” the device took a hit during the crisis; the showy feature is nothing if not conspicuous. But guess what? Tourbillons are back in a big way, and prices are higher than ever. On the flip side, watchmakers are promoting affordability like never before with a range of reasonably priced models that pay respect to the new austerity. Even the usually straightforward ladies’ category is full of paradox: As manufacturers introduce ever-daintier styles, shrinking by the season, they are showing no restraint when it comes to diamonds. Go figure.

Retro Classics

Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days in stainless steel; $10,000; IWC, New York City; 800-432-9330; iwc.com
Vintage Pulsographe from Collection Villeret 1858 in 18k red gold with grand feu enamel dial; $46,200; Montblanc, Murray Hill, N.J.; 800-995-4810; montblanc.com
Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Composite (PAM 386) in brown synthetic ceramic; $9,300; Panerai, New York City; 877-PANERAI; panerai.com
Historiques Aronde 1954 in 18k pink gold with opaline silvered, hand-guillochéd dial; $26,200; Vacheron Constantin, Geneva; 877-862-7555; vacheron-constantin.com
Tonda 1950, extra-flat and self-winding, in 18k rose gold; $16,900; Parmigiani, Miami; 305-260-7770; parmigiani.ch
Grande Reverso Ultra Thin “Tribute to 1931” in 18k pink gold; $14,450; Jaeger-LeCoultre, New York City; 877-JLC-1833; jaeger-lecoultre.com

Tourbillon Time

Richard Lange Tourbillon Pour le Mérite with stop-second mechanism in 18k pink gold; $175,600; A. Lange & Söhne, Glashütte, Germany; 800-408-8147; alange-soehne.com
Invention Piece 2, a quadruple tourbillon in platinum; $800,000; Greubel Forsey North America, Beverly Hills, Calif.; 310-205-5555; greubelforsey.com
Histoire de Tourbillon 2 with biaxial flying tourbillon in 18k white gold; $576,500; Harry Winston, New York City; 800-848-3948; harrywinston.com  
Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Automatic Ultra-Thin in white gold; $190,000; Piaget, New York City; 877-8-PIAGET; piaget.com  
RM 017 Tourbillon in extra-flat 8.7 mm rectangular 18k red gold case; $350,000; Richard Mille Americas, Beverly Hills, Calif.; 310-205-5555; richardmille.com  

Prices Are Right

Commemorative Edition JG6500 Chronograph in stainless steel; $350; Jorg Gray, Tustin, Calif.; 877-547-4438; jorggray.com
Men’s rose gold stainless-steel case on black leather strap; $495; Elysee Watches, New York City; 888-883-0050; elyseeusa.com
Vintage Racing limited-edition chronograph in 43 mm stainless steel case; $2,750; Frédérique Constant, Geneva; 954-312-3600, frederique-constant.com
AirBoss self-winding movement in 42 mm stainless steel case; $995 (estimated); Victorinox Swiss Army, Monroe, Conn.; 800-243-4057; victorinoxswissarmy.com
Optimus chronograph with rose gold attachments, pushers, and carbon fiber side plates; $495; MODUS, City of Industry, Calif.; 626-820-1332; moduswatch.com

Good Sports

BR03-92 Military Ceramic in 42 mm khaki case; $4,500; Bell & Ross, Norwalk, Conn.; 888-307-7887; bellross.com
Transocean Chronograph Limited Edition with in-house B01 movement in stainless steel; $7,940; Breitling, Wilton, Conn; 877-BREITLING; breitling.com
Limited Edition P-51 chronograph chronometer in stainless steel; $11,900; Bremont, Oxfordshire, U.K.; 44-845-094-0690; bremont.com
Big Bang Black Magic limited-edition self-winding chronograph in 44 mm black case; $15,900; Hublot, Nyon, Switzerland; 800-536-0636; hublot.com
J12 Marine in high-tech polished ceramic and steel case on matte rubber strap; $4,700; Chanel, New York City; 800-550-0005;

Ladies’ Choice

Linea chronograph in 32 mm polished satin-finished steel case and bracelet with 1.40 cts. t.w. diamonds; $9,500; Baume & Mercier, New York City; 800-MERCIER; baume-et-mercier.com
GraffStar Ladies 38 mm with pink mother-of-pearl dial set with 43 brilliant-cut diamonds on matching leather strap; price on request; Graff Diamonds, London; 44-207-584-8571; graffdiamonds.com
Excalibur Lady self-winding mechanical watch in 36 mm 18k rose gold case framed by bezel pavéd with 0.99 cts. t.w. diamonds; $26,300; Roger Dubuis, New York City; 888-RDUBUIS; rogerdubuis.com
Diamond Link Stirrup in 18k white gold case and bracelet pavé set with diamonds; $175,000; Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewelry Co., New York City; 877-639-7934; ralphlaurenwatches.com
Ladymatic in 34 mm stainless steel case with diamonds; $14,800; Omega, Hackensack, N.J.; 201-343-0057; omegawatches.com
H Hour Small Size in steel set with 64 full-cut diamonds, 0.74 cts. t.w., and mother-of-pearl dial set with 11 full-cut diamonds on silk bracelet; $8,475; Hermès, New York City; 212-751-3181; hermes.com

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