For some, it isn’t just a dream: it’s actually theirs – to which we say “well on you”. But, to many, this is “just a dream”. Today, we’re back with a two-part collaborative article where we talk through some of the team members’ horological holy grails!
Just a quick pretext: it’s not about the money. What you are about to see and read aren’t “the most expensive watches that we would buy”, but rather the ones which, when it’s all said and done, are the ones that are still on our minds. Without further ado, let’s begin!
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked
At first, I wanted to choose the Patek Philippe 5971P, or better yet, the Cartier Crash because I really want to write about these two watches. In the future, I will certainly write something about the former, and the latter already has an article in progress, so I’m not exactly ready to talk about them in this context.
Third on my grail list is this piece: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ref. 25829ST. After our Instagram LIVE session with football star Alino Diamanti (which you can rewatch/listen to here), he remarked that this was the best Royal Oak ever produced thus far, and that really stuck with me.
This watch needs no introduction, but I’ll give you one any ways. Automatic movement, 39mm steel (or platinum) case, skeletonised dial and to top it all off, a perpetual calendar, all in everyone’s favourite sportswatch, the Royal Oak.
What I really love about this timepiece, apart from its inherent complexity, is everything else.
Its 39mm make it incredibly wearable and takes away the heft of a regular Royal Oak; the skeletonised dial gives the wearer (and admirer, of which there will be many) an inside look into the complex mechanism they have sitting on their wrist; the automatic movement makes it “low-maintenance” and the choices of metal make it quite versatile. You might think that, as quite often happens with these types of watches, the skeletonised dial is at the expense of legibility, but this is far from the case thanks to the clever use of contrasting hues and shades.
As well as being an excellent conversation starter/piece, this is a watch that will last you well over your lifetime (if treated properly!) – one that you can gaze at for literal days, and each minute that passes you find something else to appreciate. Thank you Ale Diamanti for reminding me that this piece exists! Mark my words: this’ll be on my wrist one day!
Rolex Submariner ref. 6536
I often get asked what my absolute favourite watch of all time is – my “holy grail”, or my “one watch for life”. At a surface level, it’s a pretty straightforward question, but from a collector’s and watch enthusiast’s perspective, it is far more complicated, as there are many timepieces that I would want to make mine.
How could I say no to Breguet – the “father” of all horology? How could I exclude Genta’s masterpieces like the Royal Oak or the Nautilus? What about the absolute icon that is a vintage Daytona? Or perhaps the very definition of elegance – the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso? All very worthy candidates…
And that’s not even mentioning the “rising stars” that are independent watchmakers: F.P. Journe, Dufour, A. Lange & Sohne, Asaoka, Atelier de Chronometrie, Akrivia, Voutilainen, Urban Jurgensen, just to name a few!
You know, if I had the choice, I would choose one from each of the watchmakers I just listed! But alas, I cannot.
Back to reality. Those who know me know that I have a soft spot for Rolex, particularly the Submariner. Why? Just have a read of “Our First Watch” article that the team published a couple of weeks ago to find out! Indeed, it was the Rolex Submariner that ignited this horological passion of mine.
But even then, the answer isn’t as simple as just “the Rolex Submariner”, because there are plenty to be had. New or vintage? For me, it’ll always be vintage! The rich history they come with, the “older” proportions, the worn bracelets, the way that the luminous material has been applied to the indices – I absolutely adore these unique features.
To make things harder, ever since its introduction in 1953, the Rolex Submariner has seen a huge number of models and variations to it.
Therefore, finally answering the question, if I were to pick just one out of these many references, it would have to be the ref. 6536 – one of the Submariner’s earliest iterations, dating back to the late 50s. How come this particular one? It has a 37mm case, a “Big Crown”, no crown guards, radio dial with gold signatures, plastic crystal, cal. 1013 under the hood featuring a butterfly rotor, riveted bracelet and a splendid red triangle insert at 12 on the bezel. You could read all of that, or you could just look at the photo below! Isn’t she lovely?
In my opinion, it doesn’t get any better than this, and you can find one on the aftermarket for around €40,000.
BVLGARI Octo Finissimo
Up until very recently, many people would look at you funny if you told them that Bulgari had a rightful place in the Swiss haute horology market. It frustrates me to know that there are people who still think this way, because what Bulgari have done in the past few months and years is quite remarkable: they moved away from going “entirely Swiss” and put Italian Designer Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani at the helm.
This man’s designs (which in my opinion are on par with Gerald Genta’s) kickstarted the brand’s resurgence into the industry with the Octo Finissimo – also known as: my dream watch. Not only have Bulgari created a hyper modern design which is bound to be a future classic (and as such, will be very hard to get your hands on), but they brought a record-setting ultra thin automatic caliber to the table.
Okay, perhaps this isn’t the first watch that comes to your mind when you’re thinking about starting a collection, but it’ll definitely give you loads of street cred (if that’s even a thing) from collectors and watch enthusiasts all around.
What I really adore about this timepiece is the thought process and inspirations that went into the design.
The octagonal geometry is often mistaken as a nod to the Royal Oak, but it actually comes from the lines of the Roman Basilica of Massenzio, brought to life using modern materials and finishing techniques. This marriage of art/architecture with science/mechanics, is very Renaissance-esque, which I think is very fitting since this watch marked the brand’s re-entry into the watch world. In fact, this design process reminds me a lot of how Pagani Automobili made their mark once again in the automotive industry.
Hopefully (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), as time goes by, this will be a worldwide sensation, beloved by everyone. Yes, even those who still think that Bulgari isn’t a real watchmaker.
IWS Graphic Designer
Patek Philippe ref. 130 Single Button
Over the course of the 1900s, we saw a great deal of truly unique icons, that is to say, timepieces which are worthy of praise, publications and further reading even today, both in terms of aesthetics, their impact on the horological world and how they shaped their brand.
To choose just one of these as my dream watch is a near impossible task for me, especially considering that my tastes are subject to change over time. That being said however, there is one piece in particular that springs to my mind when I think about watches that have tied beauty, history and legacy together in a perfect bow.
The Patek Philippe ref. 130 was introduced in 1934, and marked a very important milestone in the brand’s history, as it was the first chronograph to be officially listed in their catalogue (also destined to remain in it for 30 years!).
Shortly after the release of the ref. 130, Patek Philippe manufactured one which was and is infinitely more rare and intruiging than the “regular” version: the 130 Monopusher, or, Single Button.
This chronograph complication brings a peculiar feature – no prizes for guessing what it is. Indeed, this special version of the ref. 130 does not feature the regular “Start/Stop” and “Reset” buttons that you would find on a regular chronograph, but rather contains just one co-axial pusher which does the same job.
Quick bit of trivia: only two ref. 130 monopushers were made in steel, and were the first ref. 130 monopushers ever made.
Earlier iterations of this model also contained a very peculiar feature which I haven’t seen on many other chronographs (if at all): the layout of the chronograph subdials are at 12 and 6 o’clock.
One special order, two unique pieces
Any collector will tell you that they love a good story behind their timepiece. In fact, sometimes they’ll buy it simply because of the story of its original owner.
These two pieces were the product of a special order made by two brothers, who were both doctors. The duo made a special request to the Argentine dealer Walser Wald, as proven through their successive serial numbers.
In similar fashion to the story behind a very special Patek Philippe World Timer, this order was made not out of flamboyance or for the fun of it, but most likely out of necessity to carry out the original owner’s job. How can we tell?
- Pulsometric scale on the dial
- Steel case, more durable and resistant to stains and scratches than gold
- Larger case (35.2mm) compared to the other examplars of this model for improved legibility
Both timepieces were delivered to their medic-brothers, and they most likely lived a long life on the wrists of their owners, fulfilling their purpose-made tasks.
Exceptional timepieces always have, and always will warrant exceptional pricetags, and this is no (or, maybe because of English grammar, is?) exception: the first one was auctioned by Phillips in May 2015 for a total price of CHF 4,645,000 (€4,151,000), meanwhile its brother met its supposedly current owner a long time ago in 2001, after the Antiquorum auction house sold it for CHF 1,818,000 (€1,690,000).
Writer and Editor
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual (ref. 1302520)
I remember about a year after I seriously got into watches, I created a little notepad on my computer, where I categorically laid out what I wanted my collection to look like when it came time to say “you know what? I think I can stop here“. I made it in 2017 and haven’t modified it since! I broke it down into various different categories, and what you are about to see is exactly what I wrote 3 years ago:
- Dive Watch / Summer everyday watch: Tudor Black Bay “with a blue dial” (yep, I totally predicted it), and the Rolex Submariner (at this point it would be the ref. 114060 – the newest one. I know, I know I hate on Rolex but I really want the new Submariner…)
- Chronograph: Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch” (hesalite crystal because THAT’S THE WAY IT WAS WHEN IT LANDED ON THE MOON) and a vintage Heuer Carrera (if you know, you know)
- Rectangular / not round watches – you know, to add a little bit of geometric variety to the collection: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso and a Cartier Tank
- Sports Watch: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Blue dial, date window, stainless steel… you know the vibes.
- All Gold, baby: apart from my grandfather’s Omega, only one watch could be in this category – a Rolex Day-Date with a Lapis-Lazzuli dial.
- Dress: already got that sorted – it’s a vintage 1940s Reda – eggshell dial, stark blue hands, subseconds, 34ish mm steel case – that I bought from none other than our Editor-in-Chief, Andrea!
There was much more to that file, but, when it was all said and done, my absolute dream watch is – and always has been – this one:
This may actually come as a surprise: the other categories were filled with icons…what’s so special about this?
Indeed, I have time and time again said that one of the most important things to me in a watch is its design and the (hi)story behind it. But, truth be told, there isn’t a real history (that is, one that I can find) about this particular watch. It was first released in 2013, and immediately I fell in love with it when I saw it for the first time a couple of years ago: I simply can’t take my eyes off of it.
It’s a stunning ultra-thin perpetual calendar from the watchmaker’s watchmaker: Jaeger-LeCoultre. It features a very clean and elegant beige eggshell dial, contrasted by the stark and deep blue of the seconds hand and the moonphase respectively. The subdials are perfectly proportioned, as is everything else in the watch. And then there’s the cal. 868/1, which you already know is impeccable because, well, it’s Jaeger-LeCoultre: it’s what they do.
Moreover, all of this is in a rich, warm rose gold case that just radiates class. And 39mm by 9.2mm thick is a very wearable and “understated” dimension, not to mention incredbly impressive to pull off considering how complicated the piece is.
I can go on and list every specific design and mechanical feature that make me love this piece, but I think I can best summarise it by how it makes me feel.
When I look at it, I can picture myself at 60+ years old, with (hopefully) a life well lived, just gazing at it and remembering the days when I used to refer to this timepiece as my dream watch.
Plus, one of my favourite designers, Brunello Cucinelli, owns one of these! How cool is that?
Plus plus, now that I think about it, you’re getting all of this for €32,300 ? Get out of town.
Writer and Translator
To avoid long-winded team articles, we’ve decided to make this into a two-part series, so stay tuned for the sequel where we’ll go through the rest of the teams’ Dream Watches!
-Translated by Patrick R.