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The Best Watches of 2011

Elegant styling, profound complications and tributes to classic models mark our annual best-in-show top-10 list of wristwatches.
Elizabeth Doerr
From the Print Edition:
Saturday Night Live: How it Shapes Our Politics & Culture, September/October 2011

(continued from page 3)

Another difference is the return of the orange GMT hand, which points out the second time zone and/or am-pm information using the 24-hour scale on the bezel. This design element—famously nicknamed “Freccione” (big arrow) by Italian collectors in the 1990s—was directed at cave explorers operating largely in the dark. Against the backdrop of the black dial—the newest
version is available with either a black or white dial—the orange hand is eminently legible.

Water-resistant to 100 meters like a good Oyster, it also includes the signature magnifying lens over the date. Its Oysterlock clasp features the Easylink 5-mm comfort extension link, a patented extension system that folds out to let the wearer increase the length of the bracelet up to 5 mm for regaining maximum comfort. This may be desired should there be an increase in temperature, altitude or physical activity, which may cause the wrist to expand. ($7,750)

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle
World Timet

At the SIHH 2011, Vacheron Constantin made an absolute mark in world timing. The International Meridian Conference in 1884 established 24 time zones, which have since been expanded to a full 37 in the modern day. This state of affairs can be chalked up to politics: Nepal, for example, boasts a time zone that is on the quarter hour, while others such as India are on the half-hour.

The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time allows all 37 time zones to be seen at a glance on a metal dial with a Lambert projection map, with Daylight Savings Time and reference city indication.

Another superimposed part is a sapphire crystal dial with day/night shading and a 24-hour display for easy reading of home time. A third, outer part is a metal chapter ring for the local time (main hands), which stays fairly unobtrusive. This complicated piece of horology remains incredibly clean and represents a real milestone for providing all world-time information.

This is obviously not an easy thing to master, and up to now not one watch company has been able to do it properly without overcrowding the dial—and making it rather illegible.

Powered by a full in-house automatic movement, it is available in an elegant 42.5-mm rose gold-case and water-resistant to 30 meters ($45,500).

Urwerk UR-110

This boutique brand has thus far manufactured watches that defy any form of conventionality. The brand is a proponent of a bold look that either grabs the potential wearer or leaves him cold. Fence-sitters are rare when it comes to Urwerk, but if there are any out there, they will probably be convinced by the newest twist on time that Urwerk’s watchmaker/designer duo has come up with: the UR-110.

One of the coolest attributes of the 110, which is nicknamed the Torpedo, is that its time display has been turned to the side so that it beautifully peeks out from underneath one’s cuff. It will no doubt draw attention there—what the wearer of an Urwerk is after anyway. The sideways time display takes such elements from the UR-203’s display as planetary gearing and “satellite” displays that twist and turn in a seemingly complicated manner to appropriately display the right hour
numeral at the right time.


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