We humans take the measurement of time for granted. Our mobile phones, our computers and our televisions all display the time without error, but this is a new revolution in human technology. For the last few thousand years, we have relied upon complicated machinery and even the position of the sun to share with us a rough estimate of the current time. Yet a collection of watch makers in Europe have spent centuries building complex, intricate machines that tell time with micro-second accuracy. They still do today, putting a world of engineering mastery into tiny devices that measure the pulse of our changing world, one second at a time. These 10 watches represent the forefront of horological mastery, watches that will one day inspire a new generation to craft time with their bare hands and unparalleled percision. This is the future of watch-making, where tomorrow is celebrated in the present day.
This Exploration of the future of high-tech watch design is brought to you by the Mercedes C Class.
MB&F Thunderbolt Watch
Maximilian Büsser could be considered the Steve Jobs of horology. That intends no disrespect to the latter man’s passing, and we feel Jobs would be well-honored by the comparison. Büsser and friends have worked to revolutionize the world of luxury watch craft by exploring out-of-this world designs and precision execution. The MB&F Thunderbolt Watch is one of their greatest, a marvelous complication inspired by its namesake’s childhood interest in model airplane construction. A pair of twin conical cylinders recalls the double-engine designs of mid-century aircraft, one of which displays time and the other shows the watch’s power reserve. It is a watch like this that reflects MB&F’s willingness to fracture the rules, to try something different and do so in unparalleled form.
Hublot La Clé Du Temps Watch
In contrast to the vintage-inspired watches like the MB&F above and others below, the Hublot La Clé Du Temps Watch rounds out the more futuristic side of this list. From its color scheme to its design philosophy, the La Clé Du Temps Watch looks like a watch of the future, but is accessible today. The name La Clé Du Temps translates to “the key of time” in English, representing this watch’s unique functionality. It features a system to “stop time”, as the watch will stop on a dime at the press of a button. It doesn’t actually stop the world around you, but its intent is to allow its wearer to pause life and reflect on its passing. As soon as the button is depressed, the watch springs forward in time to the present moment.
Pininfarina Bovet Ottana Tourbillon Watch
The relationship between hand-crafted watches and luxury automobiles is quite intimate, especially in the case of the Pininfarina Bovet Ottana Tourbillon Watch. This watch was given its styling from Pininfarina, a luxury car design firm who has designed vehicles for Mercedes, Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce and more. Their work with Bovet reflects the complex, precision engineering that is required for luxury cars, but equally fitting for timepieces. This pocket watch is amongst the world’s most progressive in its class, a microscopic machine that dazzles its wearer by sheer complication.
Jaeger Le Coultre Atmos Clock 566
While not technically a watch, the Jaeger Le Coultre Atmos Clock 566 is technically beautiful. This astronomically-inspired timepiece is an homage to an 83-year-old clock by the same brand, a reflection of continuity for a company whose work is measuring continuity. The Atmos Clock features a Baccarat crystal case that contains a new movement, the Jaeger-LeCoultre 566 Calibre. In its center, a map of the heavens is outlined by a smaller, concentric circle that shows the sky’s position for the user. While a complicated machinery spins within, the display is easily readable for the time and the piece’s position under the night sky above.
Urwerk U-110 Torpedo Watch
The Urwerk U-110 Torpedo Watch is as complicated as it is communicative, sporting a new-generation display that comprises a wild collection of moving parts. The video above doesn’t get interesting until about 52 seconds in, when this watch’s tiny parts combine for a remarkable movement in the display of time. Each individual hand of the Urwerk Torpedo Watch spins to display the hour, while rotating across the display to communicate the minute and more. It’s a difficult watch to get your head around, but easy to master in moments. It’s unlike any other display we’ve seen, one of the most impressive watch displays in this modern minute.
Bugatti Super Sport by Parmigiani
Yeah, that Bugatti. The same company that produces some of the world’s fastest, most expensive production automobiles has tried their hand in watchmaking. The Bugatti Super Sport by Parmigiani is an ideal sidearm for the Bugatti owner, and carries a price tag only the Bugatti owner can shoulder. It may not surpass 267mph like its automotive namesake, but it will still cost you $259,000 for one of your own. Yikes.
Knot 0hundred Watch
The result of another fusion of automotive and horological design, the Knot 0hundred Watch is a wild, futuristic jump hour watch built upon complex machinery. The brain child of design duo of Nicholas DiLoreto and Kort Neumann, the 0-Hundred watch is at once sleek and simple, contemporary and complicated. Its outer dial displays the hour, its inner dial displays the minute, and the central hour displays the second. Each number rolls through a slot on the left that shows the exact time of day. Wearing a watch like this isn’t just for timekeeping, it is a statement in design and fashion that few watches can compete with.
HD3 Complication Black Pearl Watch
The HD3 Complication Black Pearl Watch feels like wearing a slot machine on your wrist. The hours tick by on a tumbler on your left, while minutes are reflected on the central dial on top. It’s not the time elements that make this watch so stunning, its the intricate machinery within. This watch is powered by a gravity-defying bi-axial tourbillon, spinning in the bottom center of the display case on top. The watch is inspired by the pirate era, featuring a blood-and-black color scheme and a jolly roger inset on its side. Hundreds of moving parts make up one hell of a watch, a rare piece of wrist jewelry you’re likely to never see twice.
Geocentric Watch By Geoffrey Cooper
Three concentric cirlces make up the Geocentric Watch By Geoffrey Cooper, a stunning modern timepiece that looks like few others, if any. Within the outer circle, two concentric circles spin to display the minute and second inside a 12-hour marker on the outer rim. Its white, polyurethane band makes up that display’s edge, continuing around the wrist and locking on the opposite side. Its machinery is exposed in the display, showcasing spinning parts that drive the hands that tell the time in an unique fashion.
Devon Works Tread 1 Watch
The Devon Works Tread 1 Watch is arguably the most cutting edge amongst this entire group, a timepiece of striking visuals and technology. The Tread 1 Watch features four internal 2-micron thin belts that spin within the case to display the time. It’s powered by a lithium polymer rechargeable cell that is charged by wireless induction. This electric system runs the belts that are kept in tune with an optical technology. Add that all up, and you have one of the most technically advanced, visually stunning watches ever made. The Devon Works Tread 1 Watch was designed by a California aerospace company, a group that is quite comfortable with fitting square pegs through round holes. This watch is a prime example of their technical prowess.