IMAGE Time Honored
by KEITH W. STRANDBERG
In an otherwise tradition-laden industry, the modern watchmakers behind today’s most innovative timepieces are all about pushing the boundaries of concept and construction, ensuring each is much more than an instrument for marking the passing seconds, minutes and hours. And yet in a hooked-up world where the time of day glows incessantly from all manner of digital interface, these creations, incorporating everything from flight-of-fancy designs to ramped-up industrial main-stays, are powered by high-tech twists on tried-and-true methods.
Timepieces manufactured by the Los Angeles–based company—an anomaly in this Swiss-centric industry—are inspired by cars and motor-cycles. The Tread 2 is powered by a micromotor that drives tiny belts, the numbers crisscrossing as they advance into the windows to display the time.
The “hydromechanical horologists” have perfected the seemingly counterintuitive liquid-inside-a-watch concept. In the H1, two fluids in a borosilicate capillary tube are driven through a piston-and-bellows system. Where the colors meet indicates the hour—and it retrogrades back to zero every 12 hours.
The telescoping hands and rotating satellites of this company’s models display time in an unprecedented way, as seen in the UR-202. Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei take inspiration from James Bond movies and forward-thinking architecture, but the mechanics incorporate all the possibilities of today. Think watches that don’t look like watches.
As shown in Horological Machine No. 3, a Maximilian Büsser & Friends’ 3-D piece will never be mistaken for a Rolex. The founder touts his childhood science-fiction comics as the muse for these inventive rule benders, made to showcase stunning mechanical movement and uniquely display the time. Mission accomplished.
Cofounder Guillaume Tetu’s latest, the HL 2.0, is inspired by artist Jean Tinguely’s animated mechanical sculptures. A wraparound sapphire crystal displays the escapement as it rotates into a different position every hour. This animation is the heart of the watch, and Tetu designed a jumping hour chain and fully transparent case to showcase it.