A Coven of Watches to Collect
Six Great Watches, One Great Collection
Written by JUSTIN MASTINE-FROST
MARCH 5, 2021
In pulling an assortment of watches for a photoshoot with Watches of Switzerland, we stumbled into a happy accident of sorts. A range of watches were pulled in a variety of different colors, styles, and complications, and when we took a step back, we realized that the collection as a whole turned into a wonderful example of how to build out a diverse yet practical watch collection. With six watches, we cover the gamut of occasions and instances that appear in day-to-day life (at least before COVID reared its ugly head).
The Classic: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 ($35,900)
Every collection needs a classic, but that doesn’t mean that we all need to default to the usual suspects like a Rolex Datejust or Patek Philippe Nautilus. The Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 is a nod to a peculiar run of watches made for a small group of American motorists—the offset angle of the time display in its dial was designed to be easier to read whilst having a hand on a steering wheel. Its cushion-shaped 18ct 5N rose gold case measures 40mm in diameter, and the watch is powered by the manual-winding calibre 4400 AS movement with a 65-hour power reserve.
As a general rule the “Classic” is well suited to more formal occasions, where you don’t want to be too bold, but still want to make a statement.
The Timer: Breitling Premier B01 WoS Special Edition ($8,400)
A chronograph is another collection standard that we can’t ignore, as it’s one of few watch complications that has practical use when you don’t want to be reaching for your phone. How long have I been on this call? How long until I need to flip these steaks? Is it time to take laundry out of the dryer? All of these questions can be answered on your wrist.
The Breitling Premier B01 WoS Special Edition is a great example that is equal parts visually charming and a nod to Breitling history. The Premier of the 1940s was the elegant counterpart to Breitling’s tool-focused Navitimer, and the collection has been revived within the last few years. Now, Breitling has launched this sentimental timepiece in celebration of its long-standing partnership with the Watches of Switzerland Group. This time piece is limited to 150 pieces, 100 for the UK and 50 for the US. Each timepiece is accompanied with an exclusive certificate signed by Breitling CEO Georges Kern and Watches of Switzerland CEO Brian Duffy. It features an uncluttered white dial, contrasted with two navy sub-dials, presenting a 30-minute counter and a small-second counter respectively. It is fitted with an in-house Breitling Manufacture Calibre 01 automatic movement, and offers a power reserve of 70 hours
The Complication: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual ($21,100)
A chronograph is great, but in high watchmaking complications are king, and adding a perpetual calendar to the collection is an absolute no-brainer. Perpetual calendars—unlike other calendar complications—will automatically adjust to the correct day of each month, and even account for leap years. There’s no electronic trickery either, this is all done purely mechanically and it’s just plain beautiful.
What we love about the Jaeger LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual is that it delivers this beloved complication in a clean and simple package, with a steel case and a black dial, in a watch that looks like it could just as easily be 60 years old or brand new. At 9.2mm thick and 39mm in diameter, its case proportions are perfect, and even though it comes from one of the industry’s great legacy watchmakers, it’s nowhere near as exorbitantly expensive as some of the perpetual calendars from Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet.
The Statement: Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire ($57,900)
Even the most subdued of individuals deserves to pack a statement piece into their wardrobe, whether it be a watch, a loud pair of shoes, or another piece of eye-catching attire. The category of “statement watches” is a broad one, and different watches will make different statements depending on what sort of room you’re walking into, but stepping in the door anywhere with a mechanical watch with a sapphire case is a solid flex, no matter the occasion.
The Hublot Unico Magic Sapphire is one of those kinds of pieces. The Big Bang Unico in any form is a big and bold watch to begin with, measuring 45mm across, fitted with the brand’s quick-change strap system, and fitted with the Hub1242 automatic chronograph caliber with a 72-hour power reserve. Add a sapphire case to the mix, and you’re dealing with something much more rare and difficult to produce.
The Traveler: Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle World Time ($47,400)
A traveler’s watch can take many forms, whether boasting a GMT complication, a dual time display, or a full-blown world timer like the Vacheron Constantin seen here. After a decade in production, the Traditionelle World Time is a testament to the age-old mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The self-winding piece sets itself apart from other world timers in that it’s one of few that actually accounts for all of the 37 world time zones, rather than just the standard 24. In trade its dial does end up being a little bit busy, but that’s to be expected with pretty much any world timer on the market.
The Daily: Omega Seamaster Diver 300m James Bond 007 2020 Edition ($8,100)
When we talk about daily wear, we’re looking at things that are robust, casual, and comfortable to throw on for a wide variety of occasions. It’s for those reasons that we so often end up on a dive watch, and today is no exception.
Rather than pick a standard issue Omega Seamaster, we’re going with the latest addition to the collection that was added as part of Omega’s ties to the Bond franchise. Powered by the Calibre 8806 self-winding movement, this watch has achieved the industry’s highest standards of precision and performance—being METAS certified as a Master Chronometer. Water-resistant up to an impressive 300 meters and resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss, you can wear this durable timepiece with confidence.
While we don’t expect everyone to rush out the door and buy each and every one of these watches, it’s fairly easy to see how each piece could fill a particular niche or void in anyone’s current watch collection.