A World of Time

These luxury watches will take you on an adventure anywhere, Jill Menghetti discovers

JAMES BOND eat your heart out. The latest aviation and diving watches will take you to new heights and depths as well as into the casino – or even office. These are gorgeous high-tech timepieces that can accompany you in your daily life as well as across the world.

From independent Swiss watchmaker Breitling comes a new authentic seagoing instrument, the impressive Superocean Chronograph Steelfish with water-resistance to 500m (1,650ft). Launched this summer, the Steelfish series sets out to conquer the ocean depths by combining the legendary performances of the Superocean with a sporting and technical look of the first water.

The special edition is fitted with a steel bracelet or rubber strap and is available with a black, silver or blue dial. It is a true diving watch with chronograph, day and date functions. The model is distinguished by its broad ratcheted bezel, black rubber-encrusted numerals and markings, and oversized twin day-date windows.

The case has a satin-brushed finish on the top and polished sides. Large Arabic numerals and hands with a luminescent coating combine with a thick sapphire crystal, glare-proofed on both sides to guarantee optimum readability in every possible circumstance. This is surely the ideal timekeeper for adventurers.

A watch like this is designed to accompany professionals on their most extreme missions. Breitling watches provide maximum protection in case of impacts, and each detail of their construction has been developed and tested to withstand intensive use.

Throughout its history, the firm has distinguished itself by its reliable, sturdy and accurate movements. All their chronographs and watches are highly sophisticated precision instruments. The Steelfish is equipped with a selfwinding chronograph to preserve maximum precision. Naturally, like all Breitling watches, it has an automatic chronograph movement chronometer, certified by the COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer).

Another famous name, Rolex, featured in Fellows’ recent auction of vintage and modern wrist watches. One of the highlights of the event was a 35-year-old Comex issue Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller. This watch takes its name from a collaboration with the French firm Comex, (Compagnie Martime d’Expertise) specialising in deep-diving operations. Produced in 1979, this example (pictured) featured a pioneering escape valve, designed to prevent damage from the build-up of helium after full-saturation diving.

It was offered for sale complete with the original owner’s dive log, diary passport photographs and Comex documents, and achieved a hammer price of £43,000 (excluding buyer’s premium).

Over in Germany the watches made in Glashütte are world-famous. Fine watches of the highest quality with unique features have been made in this village for more than 150 years. Up among the world leaders is the company NOMOS, with just 170 employees and, more than 100 awards for performance and design).

They pride themselves on creating fine mechanical watches that combine traditional craftsmanship with prize-winning cosmopolitan and modern design. All the watches are designed and made in-house, and up to 95 per cent of every NOMOS movement is also made on site – largely by hand.

While the Lambda is the iconic NOMOS watch, the new version of their all-rounder swimming watch Atlantik combines robust sportiness with upmarket elegance. The Ahoi Atlantik is water-resistant to 200m (650ft), with rose-gold hour and minute hands making a sophisticated contrast.

Britain also has its own fine watchmakers. Bremont is a luxury brand based in Henley-on-Thames manufacturing mechanical watches.  It was founded 12 years ago by brothers Nick and Giles English who, inspired by a love of flying historic aircraft, of watches and all things mechanical, aimed make beautifully crafted pilots’ watches of exceptional quality.

Bremont watches are hand-built in limited numbers, and tested “beyond the normal call of duty”. With its watchwords durability, legibility and precision, the firm also manufactures watches for some of the most exclusive military squadrons around the world. It has won the Luxury Watch Brand of the Year at the UK Jewellery Awards for the past three years and has been influential in revitalising the British watch industry which once dominated watch and clock making.

The firm has now introduced what may become one of the most treasured timepieces in the world: the Bremont Wright Flyer. This limited edition aviation watch, launched in July at the Science Museum, incorporates a remarkable piece of history – original material from the Wright brothers’ 1903 Flyer, the first-ever powered aircraft. Each Bremont Wright Flyer Limited Edition rotor features some of the muslin wing fabric material used to cover the plane. It is layered between the period decorated rotor plate and a sapphire crystal window.

The new timepiece, which is available in polished stainless steel, rose-gold or white-gold, also showcases Bremont’s first unique movement, part-developed and designed in Britain with their Swiss partners. The brothers English see this as a first step towards manufacturing Bremont movements in their entirety in the UK. Totally reliable and extremely robust, the Flyer’s 25 jewel, 33.4mm movement is elegant and beautifully finished, with a central hour and minute hand and a running second hand at 9 o’clock. This unique project was only made possible by the Wright family from America.

“The wing cloth from the 1903 Wright Flyer is considered almost priceless by some, but we felt Bremont’s passion for aviation heritage, demonstrated by their iconic limited edition watches, made them a suitable choice for this rare use of the cloth.”

– Family member Amanda Wright Lane

“Giles and I still cannot believe that it’s happened. Holding the original and invaluable muslin used to cover the 1903 Wright Flyer is incredibly emotive. The Wright family has been wonderful to work with and it was inspiring to see their passion for the project. Does the creation of a special aviation-inspired watch really get any better than this?”

– Nick English

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