Montblanc Homage to
Nicolas Rieussec - This Montblanc might be a couple of years old now but it is still at the forefront of luminescent cool thanks to its innovative approach. It’s also the watch that has made me realise why I have selected the four watches I have. They are all watches with two distinct personas, two different faces they show to the world depending on whether it’s day or night.
The Homage to Nicolas Rieussec was perhaps the first watch in a new wave of designs that sought to do more with luminescent material than merely make markers visible in the dark. Instead, designers had realised that luminescence could also inject a real spark of personality into a watch. What was perhaps curious about the Montblanc Homage was that this fresh, playful approach had been used in a monopusher chronograph with such classic design sensibilities. It is without a doubt the odd-one-out in this curated quartet of watches, the other watches are at the outre end of the watch design spectrum.
While classic, the design is certainly not traditional, Montblanc replicated Rieussec’s original chronograph architecture with two rotating wheels, one 60-seconds and the other 30-minutes.
In a nod to authenticity the watch dial features the same 10-minute interval markers that appeared on Rieussec’s 1816 original, leaving no room for hour markers.
That all changes at night though. Montblanc used Super-LumiNova pigments to permeate the ceramic dial and create Breguet numeral hour markers only visible once the lights dim.
Fiona Kruger Celebration Skull - Fiona Kruger spent years of her childhood in Mexico, absorbing the country’s colourful design perspective and unique take on death, before drawing inspiration from Momento Mori skull clocks of the 17th century. Kruger produced her first skull watch as the final project of her Masters design degree in Switzerland. At first Kruger’s professor thought she meant to produce a non-functioning prototype, but was incredulous when she told him she meant to produce a finished watch.
Her professor put Kruger in touch with a certain Peter Speake-Marin who agreed to help assemble the finished watch, which was pieced together over the course of one weekend. But that was a long time ago, Kruger has since released six limited edition skull watch models including this colourful Celebration Skull.
In daylight the Celebration Skull depicts Mexican folk art through its finely detailed, three-layered dial decorated with brightly coloured lacquer and perlage. Cut-outs form the eyes of the skull and reveal the movement beneath, whilst a date window with white-on-red date wheel sits in the middle of the forehead.
But few people get to see how Kruger has applied white Super-LumiNova around the facial features of this 24-piece limited edition. Glowing blue in the dark, the luminous material mimics the form and effect of a neon sign.
MB&F HMX black badger - The original MB&F HMX - Horological Machine 10 - was launched last year to celebrate the first tumultuous decade of Maxilian Büsser’s disruptive watch brand. Clearly automotive in its influences, HMX takes its case shape from the swooping lines of sports cars from the 60s and 70s, while the interior becomes an engine bay complete with functional rocker covers.
In the intervening 12 months, Büsser has obviously read at least some of the headlines generated by James Thompson's partnership with Stephan Sarpaneva (see p.75), as the man behind Black Badger Advanced Composites has become the latest industry friend to bring their own particular brand of magic to Maxilian Büsser & Friends.
Büsser invited Thompson to work on two projects simultaneously, a first in the history of MB&F and a sign of how well his work has been received. Thompson set to work introducing numerous luminous elements to the L'Epée Starfleet Machine table clock and this HMX Black Badger.
Gothenberg-based Thompson turned his attention to the 'engine bay' adding Ambient Glow Technology elements to the recesses in the rocker covers in three different shades. The design of the case creates a great deal of head room above the movement and this space gives Thompson's work a chance to shine.
SARPANEVA KORONA K0 SEASONS AUTUMN - You’re looking at Autumn, one of four seasons released under the Korona K0 banner by Finnish independent Stepan Sarpaneva, each in a run limited to 20 pieces. Sarpaneva wanted to showcase the power and beauty of the individual seasons witnessed in Finland, something us Brits might be forgiven for not being able to recall at all.
According to Sarpaneva, Finnish autumns are an explosion of colour and as such the Autumn Korona K0 edition is the most vibrant design in the collection. But even Sarpaneva admits that its purple yellow gold accents - on the dial lattice and on its black DLC case - take a certain bravura to wear.
But the Seasons collection has another surprise up its sleeve - or indeed the sleeve of its owner - that is only revealed after dark. This surprise comes courtesy of James Thompson, a Canuck agent provocateur based in Sweden, who is currently teaching the watch industry how to play with light.
The Seasons collection is the second collaboration between Sarpaneva and Thompson’s Black Badger Advanced Composites and follows on from last year’s hugely successful K0 Northern Lights.
Last year’s watch came together almost by accident when Sarpaneva placed one of his dials on a broken slab of Thompson’s proprietary Ambient Glow Technology material. As a result the entire dial glows, something which melted the icy hearts of watch journalists the world over and generated real interest from all corners of the industry.