The fun part about attending watch salons is spotting those models that stand out from the crowd – reassuring proof that the art of creative watchmaking is alive and kicking.
MB&F HM7 Aquapod
Having spent decades exploring outer space with futuristic watches styled like spacecrafts, MB&F takes the plunge with the HM7 Aquapod, above, a crazy bubble-shaped vessel inspired by the silhouette of a jellyfish.
Because jellyfish are radially symmetric, the Aquapod is too, and where a jellyfish converts energy from food caught in its tentacles, the Aquapod generates power from its tentacle-like rotor.
But that’s about as aquatic as the Aquapod gets because, ironically, it is not a professional dive replica watch. Instead, it uses its large, domed body to show off the sophisticated mechanical spectacle going on inside the engine room.
Starting at the centre of the watch is the brain of the Aquapod, represented by a flying tourbillon and encircled by two discs – one for the hours, the other for the minutes. A ceramic bezel, a bit like a sophisticated floatie is attached to the central dome and features a unidirectional rotating bezel, just like the kind you would find on a proper dive watch.
Things get really fun, though, when the lights go out, and the Aquapod lights up with blue lume, below. Available in titanium with a blue ceramic bezel or red gold with a black bezel, be prepared to sink close to ten grand for this creature.
If you suffer from nostalgia for the original arcade games of the 1980s, Romain Jerome is the brand for you.
Donkey Kong, the classic Shigeru Miyamoto game for Nintendo – involving Mario’s attempts to climb a set of girders, avoiding the barrels and fireballs launched by an angry gorilla – is faithfully recreated on the dial of this watch, below. A joint collaboration with Nintendo, the dial recreates the pixelated effect of the original game.
Donkey Kong dominates the top half of the dial and, like Mario, the hammer and the other elements applied to the background are hand-painted in cold enamel in the original colours. Housed in a 46mm titanium case with ball-and-socket joints as lugs allowing for optimal wrist adjustment, Donkey Kong will give you the hours and minutes thanks to a Swiss mechanical automatic movement in its interior.
Ulysse Nardin North Sea Minute Repeater
Frankly, this watch by Ulysse Nardin, below, takes first prize in my whacky imitation watch line-up for the most original and unusual motif chosen to decorate the dial of a sophisticated minute repeater: an oil rig.
Depicted with lifelike realism, the imposing offshore oil rig is drilling in the ocean for black gold and has been sculpted in 18-carat gold and set against a stunning champlevé enamel background of turbulent dark waters and a red sky.
However, at Ulysse Nardin, things are taken one step further, and the three gold cranes move up and down in time to the chimes of the minute repeater. With a price tag of just under £240,000, you might need to pump some oil to come up with the downpayment.
HYT H3 Iceberg
From the creators of watches that tell the time with fluid comes the HYT H3 Iceberg, with its linear representation of the hours. Shaped like a giant razor, the 62 x 41mm PVD-coated titanium case is packed with mechanical goodies.
To consult the time, a blue fluid, pushed along by two bellows at the top of the case, indicates the hour, which in turn is placed on one of the six white ceramic rotating cubes bearing the 24 hours. The minutes are also retrograde, and a red hand jumps from right to left along the sapphire minute track just below the rotating cubes.
A widescreen format allows for a great view of the mechanical manual-winding movement, which is capable of storing enough energy for a full 7-day power reserve.