The world’s biggest watch brands once again converge on the Big Apple this weekend to showcase traditional Swiss mechanical watchmaking know-how at TimeCrafters 2016, billed as America’s premier luxury watch show, which runs from May 13–15. Held at the Park Avenue Armory, 18 different brands across various price segments of the Swiss watch industry will showcase their latest and greatest: from the ultra-competitive Frédérique Constant and Zenith to the highly exclusive pieces from A. Lange & Söhne and Audemars Piguet to the avant-garde HYT and Urwerk. Daily panels and complimentary watch evaluations, courtesy of Christie’s, are also on tap. Here, what to look out for, try on, and Instagram at this year’s edition:
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1. Vacheron Constantin
Must see: First introduced in 2007, the Quai de L’Ile is back and better than ever. Most importantly, it sports an all-new calibre 5100/1 movement with 60-hour power reserve and Geneva Hallmark on top of having already been thinned in size and expanded in lineup. Its accessible (for Vacheron) price point makes it perhaps a perfect all-rounder. Price: $14,900.
Bonus: Step into the partially enclosed glass chamber at the Vacheron booth and behold the Ref. 52760 pocket watch, on loan from its U.S.-based owner, in all its glory. The only such piece in existence, it boasts 57 functions and is the world’s most complicated watch. But be forewarned: no photos allowed.
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2. Tiffany & Co. CT60 Dual Time
Must see: Following the successful launch of the CT60 collection last year, Tiffany introduces a second time zone indication, the CT60 Dual Time in stainless steel and rose gold variants. Maintaining the CT60 design code inspired by a Tiffany gold watch gifted to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, its useful complication is ideal for travelers and can be quickly adjusted by using the two push-buttons, which give the watch the look of a chronograph. To make it easier to differentiate between day and night, blue numerals are used for the top half of the ring, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and red for the lower half. Water resistant to 100 meters, the 40mm case features a see-through sapphire crystal case back and power reserve of 42 hours. Starting at $6,300.
Bonus: For the first time in North America, Tiffany is showcasing its rich archival watch exhibit, where visitors can trace the brand’s extensive watch lineage and learn just exactly how the iconic jeweler formed its long-standing partnership with Patek Philippe.
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3. Chopard XL Race Edition
Must see: With the one-thousandth running of the legendary Mille Miglia race happening next week, naturally those timepieces by longtime race partner Chopard are top of mind. Limited to 1,000 pieces in stainless steel, this XL Race Edition is inspired by the design of the cars that took part in the historical race between 1927 and 1940. The XL stands for its 46mm case, making it the largest of the Mille Miglia chronographs created by Chopard. The two traditional chronograph pushers are paired with a typical Chopard Mille Miglia–style fluted crown, but unlike previous versions, the three subdials are laid out horizontally while 12 o’clock is reserved for the “Rossa Corsa” red arrow-shaped Mille Miglia logo. Price: starting at $9,800.
Bonus: If you’re lucky and ask nicely, a Chopard representative may just show you a trio of models on display inside a shrouded all-black vignette case. We could say what’s on display, but considering it won’t be unveiled until September, it's best of us just to stay quiet about that.
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4. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie
Must see: One of only two in existence, the titanium case Supersonnerie is a sight to behold. Openworked dial and blackened bridges are its most distinctive aesthetic elements, but it's the acoustic prowess that blows the mind: the minute repeater chime can be easily heard, as it's some 10 times louder than a typical chiming watch. Much like stringed instruments, gongs are attached to a purpose-built copper-alloy plate “sound board” positioned between the movement and the mainplate. This is further enhanced by a silent striking regulator built into the movement that blocks any interference noise from the governor, the mechanism that triggers the strike. Price: $534,000.
Bonus: Step into the special acoustic lab and receive a live demonstration of the Supersonnerie from an Audemars Piguet craftsman, who will present side-by-side comparisons, not to mention a brief history, on the brand’s past minute repeaters.
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5. Richard Mille RM055 Bubba Watson White Legend
Must see: Two new RM 055 Bubba Watson limited editions debuted at Timecrafters, joining a collection rich in technical design, the new titanium pieces are highly skeletonized. They’re basically completely see-through. The three-part, tonneau-shaped cases feature NTPT Carbon top and bottom bezels, and casebands of blasted titanium. The “White Legend” is distinguished by its white inner bezel, hands, and crown protector, whereas the “Dark Legend” is black with a red crown protector, logo and strap. Inside is Mille’s caliber RMUL2, a manual-winding movement that is capable of withstanding accelerations of over 5000 Gs, allowing it to perform on the wrist of a golfer with a massive drive — like Bubba Watson. Fitted on a rubber strap with titanium buckle, each model is limited to 90 pieces. Price: $120,000.
Bonus: Nearly every timepiece Richard Mille is showing at Timecrafters is making its first U.S. appearance. That, in and of itself, is worth the price of admission.
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6. Roger Dubuis Excalibur Knights of the Round Table II
Must see: There is simply no other watch more avant-garde. This 45mm white gold beauty belongs in the Smithsonian. Surrounding the round table and set beneath the feet of the twelve 6.5mm-tall bronzed knights is a white gold ring of satinated cobblestones. Each knight is individually styled to represent one of King Arthur's most trusted band of brothers — and takes a full day to produce and a combined 336 days to make all the men for 28 pieces. All 172 components are hand-finished and recognized with the Poinçon de Genève. Price: $268,000.
Bonus: With only 28 pieces ever made, most of which never see the light of day, this is a rare opportunity to see up-close, and perhaps even cradle, haute horlogerie at the highest level. Plus, brand friend, and New York Giant, Rashad Jennings might just make a cameo.
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7. HYT H1 Ghost
Must see: Breaking all the rules of traditional watch engineering by developing a mechanism that uses liquid (yes, liquid) to work, HYT is truly in a world of its own. The H1 Ghost continues to utilize this wild fluid-based complication as the latest in a family of über-exotic time machines. The H1 Ghost, in an edition of 50, features a black DLC titanium case joined by a new black fluid designed to not emit or reflect any light. There’s a central minutes counter, a running seconds disk at 9:30 and a power reserve indicator at 2:30. But its unstructured dial exhibits a very subtle detail that’s easy to miss if you’re not paying attention: it uses a fluid-powered retrograde hour display running a ring around the periphery of the dial — where the bezel would otherwise be. This ring-shaped capillary is filled with an inky black fluid produced exclusively for HYT by Preciflex and is pumped around the dial via a pressurized bellows system. The capillary is illuminated from beneath by Superluminova, which glows back the remaining time up to 6 o’clock. Price: $62,000.
Bonus: Get a first-hand demonstration on how these unique mechanisms work on these truly niche timepieces. No other watches currently in existence use liquid to display the time.
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8. Zenith Heritage Pilot Ton-Up
Must see: One of the hottest watches to debut at Basel — and an immediate favorite amongst watch aficionados — the 45mm Pilot Ton-Up is an impressive "everyday" watch that’s priced with tons of character. Powered by the automatic El Primero calibre 4069 movement, this aged steel timepiece echoes the spirit of the Café Racer motorbikes. It drives central hours and minutes hands, small seconds at 9 o’clock alongside the chronograph functions, while delivering an over 50-hour power reserve. Setting the final touch, an oily nubuck rubber-lined wristband, fitted with a titanium pin buckle, accentuates the watch. Price: $7,100.
Bonus: Celebrating the world of classic motoring, Zenith has created a world celebrating the gentleman’s lifestyle in keeping with its 2016 theme. Plus, as an added bonus, hop into the photo booth for a four-frame picture featuring sports cars, motorcycles and the Pilot Ton-Up watch.
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9. A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon
Must see: From the makers of the king of chronographs comes the beastly Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon. But this being A. Lange & Söhne, purity and discretion are key (the typically flashy tourbillon movement is tucked on the movement side). Powered by a re-issued calibre L951.6 movement, this well-proportioned 41.5mm marvel comes with a black dial in a platinum case and is limited to 100 pieces. Price: $333,379.
Bonus: A. Lange & Söhne has introduced a new, never-before-seen, display wall that showcases all 729 components used to build its Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon. With each part illustrated on a cube, and set to a 2:1 scale, the five major components include: perpetual calendar (240 parts), chronograph (180 parts), tourbillon (70 parts), and power reserve (38 parts), each color-coded for easy visual reference.
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10. Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black
Must see: Just when you thought Hublot couldn’t get crazier, they release the Big Bang Unico Sapphire, in both clear and an All Black edition. Sapphire — an extremely difficult material to machine — has until now been reserved for one-of-a-kind pieces or very private collections but makes up the case middle, bezel, and back here. Available in an edition of 500, the 45mm All Black follows in the insane Hublot MP05 LaFerrari released in 2013. Only a few pieces forming the spine of the watch are made from titanium: the screws, the crown, which is over-molded with silicon, and the deployant buckle. Water-resistant to 50 meters, its skeleton dial is made from transparent resin, revealing all the gears of the Unico HUB1242 movement. Price: $64,000.
Bonus: As the watchmaking partner to Ferrari, Hublot has set up a unique driving experience at TimeCrafters for all to enjoy. Partake in a stimulating F1 race simulator as you navigate using an actual F1 race car steering wheel, seated just like the racing greats inside a carbon fiber shell.
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11. Jaeger-LeCoultre Atelier Reverso Classic Large Duoface
Must see: Just in time for the 85th anniversary of its Reverso, Jaeger-LeCoultre has introduced a special lineup of Atelier pieces catering to those with highly individualistic tastes. This Starry Night Reverso, with its blue aventurine dial in a pink gold case on a dark blue leather strap, is as handsome as handsome gets. Mechanically, as its name indicates, this Reverso features the DuoFace concept: the first and main face use the same design as the other Reverso Classic watches, with the guilloché and brushed patterns, together with straight Arabic numerals. Price: $25,000.
Bonus: Seven gorgeous Atelier Reversos are on display at the Jaeger-LeCoultre vitrine, including two creations for women realized in partnership with Christian Louboutin (hint: the red’s tucked into the strap underside).