Timeless Elegance: A Guide To Your Must-Have Watches

These coveted timepieces have flourished over time and among the factors fuelling their popularity are peerless design and precision founded upon creative vision, innovation and timelessness.
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Constellation Manhattan 29 mm

Constellation by Omega

Year of birth: 1952

Design brief: The precursor of the 1952 Constellation — the first family of watches by any brand that consists only of chronometers — was Omega’s first chronometer-certified wristwatch with an automatic movement called the Centenary released in 1948. Since then, the Constellation collection has symbolised the Swiss watchmaker’s symbol of unrivalled precision and as its namesake suggests, it continues to redefine the standards of measuring time with elegance and class.

New in 2018/2019: Despite looking quite dissimilar from its early models, the correlation between the Constellation’s archival and current Constellation “Manhattan” references is evident: a timeless, elegant yet modern design for its time; and a clean round dial marked with a subtle gold star at 6 o’clock. The Constellation “Manhattan” pieces that emerged after a 1982 revamp featured four iconic claws; an integrated bracelet with hinged links among other elements. Updated in 1995 and again in 2003, 2009 and 2018, the latest Constellation “Manhattan” collection has certainly upped the stakes in design and technology. It offers a large variety of 101 new models for women featuring a refined makeover of discreet changes seen on the bevelled edges, bezel claws, crown, hands and indexes, bracelet, bracelet clasp and caseback. Available in various sizes, movements, materials and dial colours, the Constellation’s 29 mm models are powered by the Omega Master Co-Axial movement that has passed 8 strict tests required of every Master Chronometer-certified watch.

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Constellation Manhattan 25 mm • Constellation Manhattan 25 mm
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Constellation Manhattan 28 mm • Constellation Manhattan 29 mm
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Ref. 7118/1R-010

Nautilus by Patek Philippe

Year of birth: 1976

Design brief: With the rage for a different character of upscale wristwatches running high in the ’70s, Patek Philippe’s answer to it came in the form of the original Nautilus. It featured a softly angled bezel that straddled the spheres of a sports and luxury timepiece. Though controversial initially, the Nautilus was ahead of its time and soon found success. Once the horology cognoscenti had oriented to the notion of a modern-looking and luxurious sports watch that could traverse with aplomb across the casual and formal divide, even at a price tag that rivalled timepieces made of precious materials, there was no turning back from the change in tide.

New in 2019: Featuring a design where the bracelet and case formed a seamless whole with integrated lugs, a striking bezel and refined case finishing, the original Nautilus was deemed a left-field contender coming from Patek Philippe, which is more renowned for its time-honoured and classical aesthetic. Regardless, the Nautilus rose to fame and fortune and the story continues in 2019 with the introduction of five new Nautilus watches for ladies that come injected with sophisticated enhancements. There are three self-winding references: Refs. 7118/1200A-001, 7118/1200A-010 and 7118/1200A-011, which come in stainless steel with diamond- set bezels, sized at a slightly more generous diameter of 35.20 mm. For a ritzy gilded touch, the self-winding Refs. 7118/1R-001 and 7118/1R-010 in rose gold sans diamonds lend a laid-back yet lush appeal to one of Patek’s most desirable icons.

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Ref. 7118/1R-001 • Ref. 7118/1200A-001
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Ref. 7118/1200A-010 • Ref. 7118/1200A-011
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Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograp

Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet

Year of birth: 1970

Design brief: Legendary designer Gerald Genta’s partnership with Audemars Piguet began long before the conception of the Royal Oak, which he was commissioned to design with an overnight lead time. The result was a never-before-seen iteration of a steel sports watch with a new waterproof technology. Genta referenced the system of a vintage diver’s helmet screwed onto his suit and replicated the eight screws on the watch bezel with a revolutionary octagonal shape that still stands as a Audemars Piguet signature today. The watch was commercially produced in 1972 after Genta etched out the prototype and a year in development. Interestingly, the watch was initially derided for being too large before it became a runaway success. The innovative visible screw feature pioneered by Genta is a technical detail that is now much admired and emulated.

New in 2019: Debuting the concept of a luxury sports watch made of steel, Audemars Piguet’s original Royal Oak retailed as the most expensive steel watch back in the day. This year’s renditions run the gamut from the Royal Oak Offshore — highly engineered ceramic chronographs in 44 mm size that are offered in trailblazing camouflage colours and highly contrasted versions of gem-set rainbow and grey ceramic — to a repertoire that features openworking, gem-setting and new colour, finish and material medleys with resizing to flatter smaller wrists. Purists and devotees of the Royal Oak icon will be mightily pleased with this year’s five new models that champion its essence: the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin with a new colour combination; four new chronographs in 38 mm that fit both men and women; a decadent-looking limited-edition purple dial Frosted Gold Chronograph; and the super sophisticated Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin with black ceramic case and bracelet.

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Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked • Royal Oak Frosted Gold Selfwinding Chronograph
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Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin • Royal Oak Quartz
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Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Carbon

Octo by Bulgari

Year of birth: 2010

Design brief: In 2000, Bulgari acquired Gerald Genta’s eponymous watchmaking brand established in 1969 after the designer sold it to The Hour Glass group in 1998. Though not directly descended from Genta’s design oeuvre, the Octo launched by Bulgari in 2010 bears imprints of Genta’s legacy such as the juxtaposition of modernity with classicism; his trademark octagon (referencing the octagonal-cased creation he designed from 1991); and the innovative spirit of a true revolutionary. The upward trajectory of the Octo in becoming a contemporary horology icon has been exciting to watch.

New in 2019: Bulgari’s headlining act at Baselworld 2019 was the unveiling of the record-breaking Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic — the thinnest mechanical chronograph in watchmaking annals, measuring 3.3 mm and Bulgari’s fifth world record. It is the quintessence of the Octo — an impeccable fusion of design and technology while boasting ultra-thinness, embodied by a round dial within an octagonal case. A bumper year for the Octo, it is bolstered by the additions of the Octo Finissimo Ceramic and the exceptional Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire. The entire collection makes a fine statement rebooting the Octo’s design codes with innovation excellence in technicity, micro-mechanical complexity and the use of high-tech materials. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Gerald Genta’s first Grande Sonnerie from 1994 — an avant-garde piece and the most complicated wristwatch at the time — Bulgari capped its Octo 2019 repertoire with the remarkable masterpiece of Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie with Perpetual Calendar.

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Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire • Octo Roma
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Octo Finissimo Skeleton Ceramic • Octo Finissimo Chronograph Gmt

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