28 Show-Stopping Timepieces, From Sports Styles to Tourbillons

Beauty and brains collide in the year’s most fetching watchesThe 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 p

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