There's a certain watch brand I won't mention, because it wasn't at the Top Marques, I've been obsessed with for some time. Watches can cost a fortune and the engineering connections required are astounding. And I know that the materials can be precious and outrageously expensive to buy and shape and difficult to get. And I know that watches can do anything these days and tell the time is only one of many features. And I know that you could price a watch at 100 million and some rich kid would still buy it. I know all of that, but I still can't get my head 'round the fact that prices for this particular watch brand, which by the way cannot pride itself of the glorious past that big names like Omega and Rolex have, start (note I said "start") at at least 60k.
I've always had a fascination with watches and the opportunity to interlink my interest for timepieces, which was only a passion, with my love for cars, which is also work, was always there. But I couldn't bring myself to do it for an very simple reason: I know the square-root of jack-hat about either. Yes, I have a very comprehensive grasp of how a car works, what's it made of, and so on and so forth but the thing is, I like telling stories, I don't get into technicalities because I simply do not have the full knowledge. With cars, you can do that, I drive the latest hatchback or supercar or SUV in Russia or Spain or wherever, and then I can write about. It's about the car, yes, but mostly about the experience, the emotion. That's easy. And you can't be wrong. Because facts can be disputed but opinions, well, they're just opinions.
But I can't do that with watches. I have to be technical which means I may be wrong. I have to be specific and precise and accurate and I'm afraid I can't do that which is why I've procrastinated for so long. But Top Marques is home. Top Marques is the only car show I truly, honestly, passionately look for in my year because it's just so different. Like a Paradise within Heaven. So I thought I'd take the risk and went to Monaco for the third edition (my first) of the Top Marques watches. And I'm glad I did.
Held inside the "Salle Belle Epoque" at the Hotel Hermitage, the TM Watches was a showcase of all the reasons why there are so many people who love watches. We begin with my favourite watch ever, the TAG Heuer, you've guessed it.. MONACO. Specifically the V4 version made of titanium. When it was launched in 1969 (as "Heuer" Monaco) it became immediately recognizable and iconic, and it later evolved, stepping up a notch from "icon" to "legend" status thanks to Steve McQueen when he wore it while shooting "Le Mans".
The V4 (after the V-shaped four barrels mounted on ball-bearings designed to look like the cylinders of a Formula 1 car engine) remains first and foremost a testament to TAG Heuer's love for cars.
If you ask any watch collector what tourbillon he's thinking to buy next, the answer is probably going to include the name Franck Muller. Skeleton or Yacthing. An astonishing piece of mechanical wonder dedicated to sailing, a tourbillon cage with an elliptical structure. This is the description if you're savvy but, just so I make myself clear in plain English, it just means it looks super cool. It's unique.
But when all is said and done watches, much like cars, aren't just about design and performance and trivialities. No, they're about the details. Specifically, the details that have you say, "Does it really do that?! No way". Which is why you might want to focus on this watch right here. The Greubel Forsey GMT operates with a frequency of 21,600 vibrations/hour, the calibre comprises 443 components, it has 24-second tourbillon with 87 components for a total weight of 0.36 g. That's not what you need to know, though. Look at the terrestrial globe incorporated in the timepiece. This is a watch. That's a globe. Do the math... Yes, it does actually what you think it does. A complete anti-clockwise rotation in 24h, same as our planet.
Does it really do that? Yes, it does. And believe you me. These details alone, are worth the trip to the next Top Marques Watches and Top Marques Monaco.
Huge thanks to Top Marques Monaco, TAG Heuer, Greubel Forsey, Franck Muller, Hesjy and the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo
words & photo credit: A. Renesis