Over the past few years, Swiss watchmakers have begun to give outsiders creative license with their timepieces. Driven by the desire to infuse their watches with novelty and a fresh point of view, they have partnered with like-minded companies and individuals to create limited edition watches infused with two, or even three, sets of DNA.
During the pandemic, the collaboration concept seemed to reach its pinnacle when MB&F and H. Moser & Cie. introduced two watches, the Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser x MB&F and the Legacy Machine 101 MB&F x H. Moser, featuring elements signature to each watchmaker.
As you’ll see, however, Moser has continued its collaborative streak — as have its cohorts in the luxury watch world. Just last week, De Bethune announced that it had teamed with HG Timepiece, the Swiss company that develops and sells timepieces designed by famed industrial designer Marc Newson, to create the blue polished steel nanoballs that fill his iconic hourglass.
Below, we highlight the five best collaborations to emerge from the Swiss watch trade since the start of 2022.
Moser & Cie. x The Armoury
Announced in mid-January and long since sold out, the Endeavour Small Seconds Total Eclipse by H. Moser & Cie. and The Armoury, the New York- and Hong Kong-based menswear brand founded by Mark Cho and Alan See, is a study in minimalist adornment. While the watch features a dial made of Vantablack — the darkest man-made substance on earth, a Moser specialty — previous versions lacked the red gold or steel indices that distinguish The Armoury piece. Also new are the Breguet hands and seconds subdial and the 38 mm casing — available in both steel and red gold. “As beautiful as a dress watch can get” is how collector Gary Shteyngart described it to Robb Report. $25,900; watches.thearmoury.com
Bremont x Bamford
Two great British watchmaking brands are better than one. That seems to be the upshot of the new Bremont S500 Bamford Special Edition, a dive watch introduced in mid-April from Bremont co-founders Nick and Giles English and Bamford Watch Department founder George Bamford. The London-based watch customizer applied his signature DLC finish and vibrant “California Blue” Super-LumiNova to Bremont’s Supermarine S500. The resulting timepiece, limited to just 250 pieces, boasts a layered dial construction featuring a solid disc of luminous material beneath a plate with index apertures to expose the lume as characters. The dial’s visual depth combined with the black DLC lends it an unequivocally “Bamfordian” touch. $4,995; bremont.com
Naoya Hida x The Armoury
An ode to the skilled artisans who carve designs into stone, the Naoya Hida Type 2C-1 “Lettercutter” for The Armoury features a custom-drawn Art Deco-inspired typeface on its thick German silver dial. Unveiled in mid-May, the watch, the first collaborative project by the Japanese luxury watch manufacturer, comes in a 37 mm stainless steel case inspired by midcentury case designs. What truly elevates the piece, however, are its hand-carved indexes, hand-filled with Japanese cashew ink, a synthetic blue lacquer. With only 10 examples produced this year, the Type 2C-1 “Lettercutter” for The Armoury was sold through an allocation lottery that has since closed. $19,000; watches.thearmoury.com
Louis Erard x Massena LAB
The new Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Massena LAB — available in two dial variants, gold or rhodium, of 178 pieces each — is a throwback to a time when navigators relied on timepieces to sail home. “They look very 18th century, very sober — they look like marine chronometers,” Massena LAB founder William Massena told Robb Report in May, shortly before the wristwatches were introduced. Housed in a 42 mm polished stainless steel case, the watches are distinguished by their elegant double-signed dials, which display hours, minutes and seconds, divided over three registers with hours at 12 o’clock, central minutes, and small seconds at 6 o’clock. Equipped with the automatic Sellita caliber SW266-1, the Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Massena LAB features a custom rotor, visible through its display caseback, bearing the Louis Erard signature. $3,950; massenalab.com
Zenith x Kari Voutilainen x Phillips
Earlier this month, a Swiss watch brand, an auctioneer and a celebrated independent watchmaker walked into a bar… and came out with the Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition, a contemporary chronometer powered by a historic caliber and produced in a limited edition of 10 pieces. The one-of-a-kind, three-way collaboration began when Phillips’ Aurel Bacs and Alexandre Ghotbi invited the watchmaker Kari Voutilainen to restore and hand-decorate a batch of Zenith Calibre 135-O movements. Originally produced between 1950 and 1954, the movements, all of which actually took part in and won observatory chronometer competitions, are now housed in 38 mm platinum cases featuring a slightly domed black dial in sterling silver handmade at Voutilainen’s Comblémine atelier. The face of each watch is set with triangular hour markers and applied dot markers with contrasting solid gold hands, and the oversized second counter at 6 o’clock is inscribed with the movement’s serial number, proof of its uniqueness. Priced at 132,900 Swiss francs (about $133,000), the Zenith Calibre 135 Observatoire is exclusively sold by Phillips. CHF 132,900; zenith-watches.com