Day three at Baselworld is usually when we start to subsist mainly on the coffee on offer at most of the booths. However, it won’t be until day five that our coffee:blood ratio skews to the dangerously caffeinated end of the spectrum. Fortunately, I didn’t need caffeine to perk up my heart rate as there were plenty of watches to do that for me instead.
This year, Hermès had one of the best watches in the show with their L’Heure Impatiente, a new variation on the already fantastic Slim d’Hermès. The complication they introduced is a surprisingly delightful way to look at time and how we experience it, and is similar to the concept of the countdown of an hourglass.
The “impatient hour” function is set to the time of your anticipated event, and an hour before your event is set to start, the 60-minute counter on the lower right subdial starts counting down. Once the time of your event is reached, the watch chimes once, loudly enough for the wearer to hear, but unobtrusively quiet enough that it won’t disturb those around you. It’s whimsical and seemingly unnecessary in an era of smartphones with reminder and alarm functions, and that’s precisely why I love it.
Hermès also introduced a new version of its perpetual calendar, the Slim d’Hermès Quantième Perpétuel in platinum. This version has a deep blue dial, with subdials for the months and years, date, moonphase, and GMT, and a day/night indicator. The moonphase disk is the same beautiful aventurine sky and mother-of-pearl moon that I found so mesmerizing on the original version, but with the backdrop of the blue dial surrounding it, the moonphase just sings. (It doesn’t hurt that the moonphase is my favorite complication.) Both of these additions to the Slim d’Hermès line ring in at $39,900.
Ateliers de Monaco showed us a new piece, the Tourbillon Oculus, that marries traditional mechanical watchmaking with modern dial decorating techniques. It’s got a tourbillon with a sapphire bridge in a DLC case priced at $61,100 with the white gold version coming in at $73,100, which is a pretty decent price for a tourbillon. But the devil is in the details, and the details on the laser-etched dial are something you need to see close up. Really, really close up. So we put it under Atom’s macro lens.
Pim Koeslag, cofounder of Ateliers de Monaco, told us that the laser etching machine they use to create the design on the dial creates lines that are only 2 microns wide. To put that in perspective, the average human hair is about 75 microns in diameter. Being able to laser-etch with that level of precision makes the dial look almost 3D in texture.
In our next installment, we visit Seiko, Frederique Constant, and Alpina. Stay tuned for more info and photos, and follow us on Instagram at @redbarcrew.