If you’re like us, you have a long list of gear you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, along with bank accounts and eagle-eyed spouses, and your gadget desires remain unfulfilled. What’s a guy to do? Gear Patrol’s series Want This, Get This presents a lust-worthy piece of gear along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we’ve found an example of übermodern haute horlogerie and an affordable option that gives a similarly avant-garde look.
Since the resurgence of mechanical timepieces in the 1990s, a handful of expert watchmakers and designers have sought to redefine what a wristwatch should look like and how it should tell time. These upstart brands — HYT, MB&F, Vianney Halter and Ressence, among others — have made use of hydraulics, floating dials and rotating time displays to create exclusive timepieces that look right out of a Fritz Lang or George Lucas film. For fabulous amounts of money, they can be yours.
At the forefront of this modern haute horlogerie movement is URWERK, the brainchild of two Swiss industry veterans, Felix Baumgartner (not the space jump guy) and Martin Frei. One of URWERK’s most recent watches, the UR-210 ($130,000+), showcases their most recognizable feature: the satellite time display. A three-pronged central assembly — with pivoting “cubes” that display the hour — rotates around the dial. Meanwhile, a pointer denotes the minute on a linear scale. When the hour is up, the pointer returns to zero and the hour indicator pivots to display the new time. A patented and wholly original “winding efficiency” gauge and a power reserve meter round out this truly avant-garde timepiece.
While a Citizen-sourced Miyota automatic movement in a Chinese-assembled watch might not seem terribly exciting, it is SEVENFRIDAY’s unique design and execution that makes the P1 (~$1,000) interesting. A bold, modern case and multi-level dial create originality — but unlike the URWERK UR-210, its $1k price tag means that it’s perfect for a (somewhat wealthy) man on a budget.
Upon first glance, the P1 looks like a feat of watchmaking prowess, a satellite time display devised in a Swiss mountain workshop. In reality, the commonplace and reliable Miyota motor is contorted to show minutes with the prominent upper pointer disc and hours with the smaller hand below. A 24-hour disc at 9:00 adds a touch of useful complexity, and the rotating small seconds disc draws attention beyond the exposed balance wheel. The result is a dynamic and refreshingly modern dial inside a 47-millimeter square case that, despite its size, will fit most wrists thanks to a lack of protruding lugs. The SEVENFRIDAY P1 will also fit most wallets, so you can get the haute horlogerie look without the haute price.