The landscape and demographics of buyers has driven many changes across the world of horology in recent years. More interestingly, we have seen a huge rise in demand of products from longstanding fashion houses such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and so forth. In order to capitalise on this, these fashion houses have invested enormously into their watchmaking departments. Either scaling them up or reviving long lost departments entirely. In this article, we explore some watches in the spotlight that proves these companies and moving into a space previously dominated by the traditional manufactures.

At this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie De Geneva, the Chopard LUC Full Strike took out the top prize, the Aiguille D’Or Grand Prix. It’s competitors included amazing pieces for Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Sohne, Greubel Forsey and even Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 (a watch whose name and pedigree was probably the favourite). For a few years now, Chopard has risen to become a real contender in watchmaking. It has three dedicated facilities devoted purely to watches, and a workforce to support it. They have been filing patents for many years now. We can’t forget that Chopard’s empire was built by a watchmaker, Louis-Ulysse Chopard. It’s current owners, the Scheufele family are real watch aficionados, and just like Rolex, they even own their own gold foundry. This capability allows them to really bring some impressive pieces to the table. The Full Strike is one of these.


This exceptional Vacheron Constantin won an award, but not the top award unfortunately

The LUC Full Strike is a limited edition of 20 pieces, pricing in at an eye watering 245,000 Swiss Francs. However what makes up for the tears is the supposedly crystal clear sound of this minute repeater. Unlike most minute repeaters, the Full Strike makes use of transparent crystal gongs creating a unique sound. Imagine a knife striking a Bohemian crystal glass. Years of effort have produced an impressive watch whereby the watch glass and the gongs are machined from one sapphire block, allowing a glue/screw free construction. We’ve seen Hublot and other manufactures use sapphire extensively in cases, but using it for the gongs takes sapphire to a whole new level. At only 11.5mm thick with over 500 components, the Full Strike incorporates various security features to ensure that the minute repeater movement, and its sound remains as solid as possible.


Crystal clear sound with the LUC Full Strike


The many layers of the Chopard LUC Full Strike

Bvlgari, the Italian fashion powerhouse wont the Men’s Watch Prize, a highly sought after prize by many manufactures. The Octo Finissimo Automatic is a watch that has previously won and deserved many accolades. It is the slimmest automatic watch on the market. At total thickness of only 5.15mm this is definitely a piece that will sneak under the cuff. The 2.23mm thick Caliber BVL 138 pushes the boundaries of modern mechanical watchmaking, and yet it still has a worthy 60 hour power reserve. The Octo Finissimo case in the flesh is beautiful though slightly a little too large for my wrists.  In this example, the hands and hour marker are coated in black PVD and the case is titanium. The Finissimo Automatic is a true modern sports watch.


No stranger to awards, the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic


Ultra light weight, ultra thin

Bvlgari even went on to secure the Tourbillon and Escapement Watch prize with the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton. It takes the Finissimo Automatic further by adding an open worked tourbillon using a cage that is fitted onto a ball-bearing mechanism. The barrel uses three ball bearings in order to double the height of the barrel spring and provide 80% more power reserve.


The big brother also won an award

The two ladies prices, the Ladies Watch and Ladies High Mechanical Watch prixes went to Chanel and Van Cleef & Arpels respectively. We’ve been a long time fan of the Première series of watches from Chanel. Inspired by Place Vendome in Paris, the Première Camélia Skeleton also now incorporates the iconic Chanel Camellia flower . This is Chanel’s second in-house movement, the Caliber 2, and is shaped in 3D to form a black Camellia flower. The Lady Arpels Papillon Automate from Van Cleef & Arpels contains a random automation module. As time passes, the buttergly beats its wings randomly. Less when it is not worn and more when it is. It can also be called upon on demand. A lovely piece that is well decorated with many precious stones.H5251-default-0-3080-grey-nocrop-1488956090683

The exquisite Première Camélia Skeleton


Van Cleef & Arpels winning ladie’s complicated watch

PHG 2017 has demonstrated that the world of haute-horology is no longer dominated by the traditional watchmakers. Many brands are becoming more and more invested in watchmaking as a result of the times and we will no doubt see this landscape (and battle) continue to change. We welcome this healthy compeitition as it will only bring more innovation, new technology and above all, every amazing pieces.