Jewellery - Bvlgari Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewellery
This is an absolute classic design from Bvlgari and for those of you who think Bvlgari are just a fashion/Jewellery brand, think again. I know exactly how you feel and it took me many, many years to get over the fact that they’re not just about jewellery and coloured stones, but much, much more.
The Serpant has been a mainstay for Bvlgari and the theme is seen not just in watches and jewellery but also on their leather goods.
This time round, the serpent features a brand new micro movement, the BVL100, which is one of the smallest mechanical movements available today and it is a Bvlgari in-house affair as well. The movement measures just 12.3mm in diameter, 2.5mm thick and weighs only 1.3 grams, including a white gold balance to ensure good inertia.
There is no stem for the crown, but instead done directly from the case back mounted crown. A total of 102 pieces fit into this tiny little space and of course, due to its size, there is only a 30-hour power reserve. But if you’re stuck on the short power reserve, you’re massively missing the point.
I know this is meant to be a jewellery category and I’ve gone on and on about the movement instead. But to be honest, this a perfect case of function following form. In order to produce something that can fit into the space of the serpent’s mouth, a brand new micro movement is born (instead of relying on something that’s *gasp* powered with a battery!). The rest of the serpent is just as stunning. There is no doubting Bvlgari’s mastery at jewellery. But this is one high jewellery package that also contains a decent amount of watchmaking, and for that, it is the pick of the bunch here. Yours for 246,000 CHF.
Artistic Craft - Voutilainen Ji-Ku
This category is quite possibly the most subjective in the whole grand prix. Everyone views artistic crafts differently and places varying importance on the style, the technique and so forth. All six entries are equally crafty so the pick here is basically one that appeals to me the most. You may think differently, and that’s the beauty of it all.
The craft in this watch is entirely in the dial itself, mated to a classic Voutilainen movement. Tatsuo Kitamura is one of the greatest lacquer artists from Japan, creating art at the zenith of Japanese tradition, bringing hundreds of years of know-how to the present. The dial is created using the techniques of lacquering with Saiei Makie and Somata zaiku and took several months of work to complete. The materials used are Kinpun (gold dust), Jyunkin-itakane (gold leaf), Yakou-gai (shell of great green turban) and Awabi-gai (abalone shell from New Zealand). This is a unique piece and priced at 365,000 CHF.
Petite Aiguille - Breitling Top Time Triumph
Petite Aiguille literally means small needle or, in the case of a watch, it’s the hour hand. It’s also a mountain of the Pennine Alps, but that’s kinda beside the point. This used to be an entry-level award but given the criteria is for a watch priced between 3500 CHF and 10,000 CHF (that’s around $5400 to $15,500 Aussie dollar bucks), it’s not quite entry level enough is it?
So it’s now a middle-of-nowhere category for watches in that difficult in-between price range, and there is a further entry level award for watches priced below 3500 CHF in the next category.
I may be sounding a bit whingey by this stage saying that it’s a difficult category to pick a winner from. But if you’ve ever served a client at retail level who has limited funds to spend and can’t decide on what they want (because what they really want is out of their price range) then you get the idea. It’s also a big range of A$10,000, so what do you go for? Brand? Watchmaking content? Bang for your buck? All of the above?
To be honest, I think we need to be realists here, as at this price point, the brand recognition and value of money definitely comes into play. So with that in mind, the Breitling gets the nod. You get a prestigious Swiss brand with a long watchmaking history, a collaboration with a well known motorcycle company, a chronograph in a classically styled, timeless watch design that’s wearable at a diameter of 41mm, and versatile. It’s also reasonably priced at AUD $7590 (5250 CHF).
Challenge - M.A.D. Editions M.A.D.1 Red
This was a no-brainer actually. The most interesting watch at an entry level price has to be the M.A.D 1 Red. It’s the MB&F for those who cannot afford MB&F and this is pretty much the design ethos behind the “take-down” brand, although calling it a “take-down” feels like an insult, given just as much thought and creativity has gone into the watch. There is a market for creativity at an accessible price point.
Even then at 3125 CHF its accessibility is also quite relative. Obviously not designed for everyone, but given how many entries were received for the raffle, it’s enough to keep Max and team busy for a long time.
Look out for our hands-on review coming soon.
Mechanical Clock - L’Epee Time Fast II
The mechanical clock is a new category for 2022 and already there are many nominees. Who knew clocks are still relevant in this digital age? The choice for the category appeals to the inner child and petrol head, in the shape of a 1960s racing car. L’Epee has also made a number of clocks in collaboration with MB&F.
This particular clock actually features two movements, one to power the time, obviously, and the second powers the engine automaton, triggering the pistons of the V8 engine to go up and down. You can “start” the engine by – yep – turning the key on the dashboard. And guess what? The winding of the clock is done by pulling the car backwards! You change the the time by turning the steering wheel, and the gear lever allows you to select winding of the clock, the engine, or neutral. Priced at 40,000 CHF it’s limited to 99 pieces.
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