There are several reasons why a good timepiece is eventually recognised and coveted as a great. One of them simply has to do with the nature of time itself, in that the creation has proved itself to be both elegant and functional across decades.
One such piece is the Patek Philippe split-second chronograph, presented initially by the manufacturer in the 1920s. This year, some nine decades on, Patek Philippe introduces its Ref 5370 split-seconds chronograph, harking back to its watchmaking competency of long ago. In this timepiece, one finds a pure expression of a stopwatch function that enables you to stop, start, split and reset. This timepiece is encased in Platinum 950, with a white gold dial layered with black enamel and 18-carat white gold hour and minute hands coated in Superluminova.
One can also find great appeal in a piece that has become recognisable as an icon. From TV episodes such as HBO's Entourage to the wrist of former Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet has permeated mainstream consciousness. The fact that its pioneering design for a luxury sports watch came from the great Gerald Genta doesn't hurt. This year's ode to Genta's timeless design takes the form of the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph, a 44mm fusion of forged carbon, ceramic, titanium and rubber.
Another yardstick to recognise value in timepieces lies in the amazing workmanship and technical expertise of a timepiece. This year's platinum-cased Rotonde de Cartier Grande Complication combines 578 components in a single timepiece that boasts a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater and a flying tourbillon — all of which reside within a self-winding movement that's only 5.49mm thick. This simply stunning feat took five years in the making and represents Cartier's most complex timepiece yet.
Finally, there are those pieces which are just so scarce that you would be lucky to be able to get one at all. In celebration of Hublot's 10th anniversary of the Big Bang case, 10 commemorative timepieces from the haute joaillerie collection — each priced at US$1 million — are made available for grabs. Creating these pieces involved a range of gem-setting disciplines: invisible, Clou de Paris and rail setting. Meanwhile, the diamonds, sapphires and rubies involved in this blockbuster production undergo 350 hours of setting to create a single piece of this limited edition run of bling horology.