Why are mechanical wristwatches so intriguing? What is it about them that makes us obsess over their details to such an extent? It may have something to do with the fascinating combination of historical and technical aspects they all have in common. Some brands have been around for centuries but are still pushing the boundaries of horology in ways that excite every watch lover. Sure, a gear is still a gear—but how is that gear made? A century ago it may have been milled on a bench lathe. Today a high-tech CNC machine does the job.
What about the ubiquitous hairspring, the heartbeat of the watch? The industry has seen an increasing number of them made with nano-fabrication techniques, similar to the way the chips in phones are produced. The continual development of technology keeps things fresh and relevant. Where are we going with all of this horological innovation? No one knows for sure, but we are definitely in the middle of a mechanical timepiece renaissance.
Modern manufacturing technology has enabled watchmakers to build the complications that they could only dream of before. And this is only the start: As technology improves even more, so will the complexity of the products from the world’s greatest watchmakers. This is a guide to contemporary mechanical wristwatches that all deserve a spot on your wrist.
Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Bracelet (pictured above)
Hublot’s Classic Fusion collection is a tribute to the company’s first timepieces—but its updated case materials and exquisite finishing will never go out of style. The rounded case features a bezel attached with exterior screws; the letter H is embedded in the screw heads. And it’s topped off with a sublime opaline dial with rhodium-plated appliqués. ($9,825)
Chromatic Chanel has serious expertise in the world of ceramics, and it shows in its J12 collection. Adding titanium to the ceramic case material provides a level of durability not found in traditional steel watchcases. The result is a beautiful and functional automatic that is extremely scratch resistant and won’t oxidize. ($6,150)
Chronographs are linked with the world of motorsport, and Chopard’s Mille Miglia GTS Chrono is a testimonial to Italy’s legendary Mille Miglia endurance race. The finely finished steel bracelet is manufactured to exacting specifications, and the chronograph pushers are similar in appearance to engine pistons. ($8,980)
An automatic mechanical watch’s rotor belongs on the back, generally hidden from sight—right? Wrong. Dior’s Chiffre Rouge M01 has the rotor on top of the dial, bringing motion and playfulness to a very cool timepiece. (From $4,775)
This specialty watch draws design cues from the Swiss maker’s famous ’50s-era Memovox Deep Sea. The retro look is accentuated by a superclean dial, with subdials for chronograph functions. Certified ISO 6425, it meets the international standard for dive watches with a depth rating of 100 meters and extreme watertightness. ($10,800)
Because it was built for a championship soccer coach, the RM 11-01 Roberto Mancini features a stoppage-time indicator—crucial for those last important moments of a big match. In order to keep the watch as flat and rigid as possible, the bridges and main plate are made from grade 5 titanium. To top it off, the movement features two large barrels to even out the torque delivery to the center wheel pinion. (From $127,500)
All Photos: Eric Maillet