Feature: The craziest watches in the world
If you’re looking for some of the weirdest and wildest watches in the world, you’ve come to the right place. Today I’ve got a whole selection that you’ve likely never even heard of—that are about to blow your mind!
With thanks to The Limited Edition for allowing us to film these watches.
Singer Reimagined Flytrack On The Road
You may already know Singer for its unbelievable Porsche restomods that cost as much as a house in the Hamptons and go twice as fast. But the peeps at Singer are no fools: they understand that people with half a million or so to lay out on a car have probably got some cash left over to get a watch, too.
But they knew their customers were of the most discerning type, so it simply wouldn’t do to buy in a batch of cheap quartz watches and slap a Singer logo on them. No. They would have to go to the same degree of insanity as they do with their cars.
This is the Singer Reimagined Flytrack On The Road, and it costs £21,600. Yes. That is a lot for a watch. But it’s just like the cars. On the outset, they seem hideously expensive. But when you look closer, the value starts to become clearer.
The Singer Flytrack may look like a simple two-hander watch, and if it were I’d say the people who set the price were having a jolly good laugh, but it’s actually a chronograph—and as the name alludes to, a flyback chronograph.
Usually that means the chronograph can be stopped and reset with one pusher, but this chronograph only has one pusher—so how do you start and stop it? The answer is, you don’t—it’s always running! When you want it to start from the top, you hit the button and it does so.
That doesn’t seem to make much sense, because why have a chronograph that can only effectively time sixty seconds—unless you’ve got a decent memory to track the minutes, too. That’s because, whilst this particular variant doesn’t have it, others have a tachymeter scale, which can be used with the chronograph for measuring speed over a mile.
So if one of the hands is the running chronograph seconds, and the other is the minutes—where’s the hours? That’s taken care of by the arrow on the outer rotating disk, giving the dial a clean look that mimics the rev counter of a classic sports car.
What really gives the watch surprising value for money is the movement, which comes courtesy of manufacturer Agenhor. Agenhor specialises in complex, high-end movements, and this Agengraphe is no exception. It’s manual wind so you can clearly see the unusual architecture, but best of all, it’s almost identical to the movement in the excellent H. Moser Streamliner Chronograph, which costs considerably more. Bargain!
Frederic Jouvenot Mechanical Sundial
You would think by now that all the new ways that could be thought of to tell the time would have been thought of by now, but surprisingly enough, Frederic Jouvenot has proven that theory wrong. Granted, inspiration for this new timing-telling display comes from the oldest of all time tellers, the sun dial.
This is the Mechanical Sundial, and whilst there’s no need to actually have the sun present to tell the time with it, the unusual mechanism certainly does its best to give the impression it’s happening anyway. Let me explain.
There’s a pointer for every hour, so twelve pointers, all sat there looking conical and whatnot. One by one they rotate, starting at one o’clock, revealing a golden underbelly. These are the daylight hours, slowly filling the dial with gold with each passing hour, like the sun moving around a sundial.
Then, as the day hits its midpoint, the cones return to their original state, turning the dial, one hour at a time, back to black. In the centre is a small minute wheel so you know what’s going on. It’s a novel but surprisingly readable display, simple in its execution—but deceivingly so.
The mechanism required to perform this balancing act of light and dark, the centrally mounted 24-hour jumping cage, has more parts than a tourbillon and requires enormously high tolerances to trigger the instantaneous change. It’s what gives the impression of the transformation being magic. Without it, it would be far less impressive.
Despite the incredibly contemporary dial, the case back reveals a very traditional and incredibly well-finished movement of the highest standard. It’s a Jekyll and Hyde double act, demonstrating that when it comes to watchmaking, Frederic Jouvenot is capable of practically everything. For a price. This one is £27,360.
Trilobe Une Folle Journée
You could say that French outfit Trilobe painted themselves into a corner with an insistence on doing things in threes, but the Une Folle Journée—translated as “A Crazy Day”—shows there’s plenty of life in the concept yet.
The earliest Trilobe watches did things differently by indicating hours, minutes and seconds on the dial with three concentric disks, all centring somewhere towards the bottom left corner. That was nice and all, but someone somewhere wondered what that might look without a dial, and so the Une Folle Journée was born.
It’s quite the mechanical escapade to float three rings above the dial like this, with hours all the way on the outside, minutes more central and then the seconds—well, the seconds literally seem to be floating. Thanks to a transparent sapphire disk, a centrally driven shaft spins it around like a parasol on a hot summer’s day.
Then there’s this Inception moment where the whole watch tips over and the verticality comes into play. The disks don’t just go round, they go up as well, curving towards the very deeply domed crystal like some mechanical eyeball. It’s probably more scared of you than you are of it.
Reading the watch is the next challenge, because there’s just a tiny red triangle at the bottom which vaguely points out the hours and minutes I guess, although with the seconds you’re on your own. I suppose it at least lets you know the watch is running.
The monochromatic styling finds its way around to the back of this micro rotor movement as well, a view that cuts as much of a modern look as the front—albeit not quite as arresting. The entire thing will set you back a cool £21,500.
Czapek Antarctique Frozen Star S
The next watch is perhaps the most ordinary-looking of this entire selection, but don’t be fooled, because it’s every bit as crazy—just in a different way. For the most part, this watch is a Czapek Antarctique, a very desirable entry into the integrated bracelet category and one that has managed to carve its own niche.
Steering clear of the faceted bezel design, the Antarctique instead lets the dial do the talking. In this case the dial has a lot to say, because it’s made of the rarest metal on Earth: Osmium. Chances are you’ve never even heard of it, and that’s because Earth averages, per every 200 tonnes, about a gram. Just one.
It’s not only the rarest but also densest metal, making it extremely heavy. Think of lead—yeah, it’s twice as heavy as that. It has a bright shine with a blue tint to it, but the most visually stunning thing about it is its crystalline form. It can take shape in long, sword-like structures but also finer, granular patterns too, as is seen here on the Antarctique.
The dial so shiny it almost looks like a liquid, which completely counters the crisp detail of the crystalline structure. It’s like thousands of tiny mirrors, all catching the light. So although the Antarctique is indeed a very sought-after watch, especially because of the unique structure of the calibre SXH5.01, all eyes are drawn to that dial.
This Antarctique is therefore known appropriately as the Frozen Star, a limited edition watch of just thirty-eight. By nature of the rarity of osmium—which fetches thirty times more than gold—the Frozen Star also commands a much higher price, some three and a half times as much as a standard Antarctique ,at 76,000 CHF.
Rudi Sylva RS12
The last crazy watch today is probably the craziest, and it is the Rudy Sylva RS12. You might be forgiven at first glance for thinking this watch actually looks fairly ordinary, for an insane watch at least, with the small dial and exposed balance at six o’clock fairly unimaginative when it comes to the highest echelons of watchmaking madness.
Well, look again, because that’s no balance. It’s two of them. And they’re orbiting each other. This is what Rudi Sylva calls the harmonious oscillator, and like a tourbillon, it’s designed to even out the effects of gravity. Only, this is much madder than a tourbillon.
First of all, you’ll notice the balances themselves are toothed. That’s because, yes—they’re connected. One drives the other and vice versa. They’re set so when the hairspring on one is opening, the other is closing, to even out any discrepancy between them. They’re both driven by a singular escapement and so fed from the same 70-hour power reserve.
And here’s where crazy moves over and outright nuts moves in. The two balance wheels, whilst driving each other backwards and forwards, also pirouette around the centre. So these two balance wheels are effectively mounted into one huge tourbillon cage, which rotates once per minute. There’s even a little second hand indictor on the cage.
It’s a patented device, but given how complex it is, I’m not sure how necessary the patent is, because it’s a huge engineering headache to achieve. Not to mention that the finishing on this watch is some of the best I’ve ever seen. The cage alone has a full twenty-eight internal angles. And you know what makes that even more impressive? It’s made of titanium to keep it light, which is far harder to finish than steel. Each internal angle takes ten times as long as a rounded corner in steel.
The whole thing is so impressive that details like the rose-engine guilloche in the back almost go unnoticed. But the watch is littered with touches like that. That’s why it costs a quarter of a million pounds.