Watches: got the time, Mr President? CAR+ January 2016

Published: 24 November 2015

► President Nixon wore the Vulcain Nautical Seventies watch
► Hoptroff Gravitas offers highest tech, and most accurate
► La Chronometrie, the watch the price of a Lamborghini! 

The Salon QP watch show brings a huge variety of often rare-groove, low-volume watchmakers to London each year: not all of them asking crazy money. This year’s event was no exception. The big debut for fans of cars and watches was Autodromo’s new piece inspired by rallying’s Group B era. I had a sneak preview of it and so was able to bring you details last month as the show opened. Looking back, here are three other new watches which really stood out, at a variety of prices.

Hoptroff Gravitas

From £499 - New Brit watchmaker offers crazy tech and normal prices

British physicist and artificial intelligence expert Richard Hoptroff founded his eponymous watch company in 2010 with the simple aim of building the most accurate watches possible, using any available technology. So for £12,000 you can have a Hoptroff accurate to one second per millennium regulated by its own chip-scale atomic clock, including a tiny vial of Caesium-133. His quartz watches are more affordable but still accurate to an astonishing one second a year and capable of being controlled and set from your smartphone.

Vulcain Nautical Seventies

£3550 - Richard Nixon wore one, but don’t be put off

Vulcain is one of those great-value, slightly under-the-radar Swiss watch brands that get undeservedly eclipsed by bigger names with colossal marketing budgets. Four post-war US Presidents chose a Vulcain watch, mainly for the clever ‘cricket’ mechanical alarm function which it invented in 1947. Vulcain is now back in the UK after too long an absence with a range that includes tough-looking modern pieces and some from its back catalogue, including this immensely cool ‘70s dive-master’s watch.

La Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud FB1

£161,000 - More heritage and complexity than we can begin to describe here

With Britain’s John Harrison, the eighteenth-century Swiss master watchmaker Ferdinand Berthoud pioneered the super-accurate marine chronometers which made open-ocean navigation possible. Now Chopard boss (and car-obsessive) Karl-Friedrich Scheufele has established a new watch brand to honour Berthoud. Just 100 of the first watch, the FB1, will be made. It displays skill and complexity Berthoud would have liked: its ‘transmission’ uses a hand-made bicycle-style chain which is 28cm long and just 3mm wide. Crazy price, but totally worth it.

By Ben Oliver

Contributing editor, watch connoisseur, purveyor of fine features

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