Luxury watches made of steel: 6 stunning timepieces fetching higher prices from IWC, Ulysse Nardin and more

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Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar
Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

Steel-clad complications are no less precious than their counterparts in gold and platinum; they’ve merely skewed their value towards their movements and designs. In light of this, watchmakers have taken to releasing steel watches at even higher price points than watches made of more precious metals. Here are our six picks of steel timepieces for watch aficionados.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire, S$47,300

IWC Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire
IWC Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire

Here are the two most useful complications to have. On one hand, the perpetual calendar minimises its owner’s involvement by accounting for differing lengths of the months automatically to display the correct date  at least until 2100. On the other hand, the chronograph encourages more fiddling, to time any and every event that its wearer encounters. Combine them with an eye on symmetry and a premium on legibility, and a winning package emerges. Hidden beneath the dial are other technical complexities, such as a seven-day power reserve, and a date-change mechanism that sends four discs jumping simultaneously at the end of every year.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo, S$17,600

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo

What better way to display a second time zone than on another face? The Reverso Tribute Duo tells local time via its main face, which has a white grained dial set with blue hands and indexes in an unmistakably Art Deco execution. Swivel the case around, and the flip side presents a dial that’s almost like a film negative of the main one blue is the dominant colour here instead, accentuated by silver hands and dial markings. In lieu of a small seconds display, the sub-dial
on the reverse is a day/night indicator.

Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar, S$17,900

Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar
Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar

The PanoMaticLunar is an exercise in asymmetry. Its dial elements may all be off-centre, but they form a pleasing whole thanks to their exacting positioning vis-à-vis each other. There are, for instance, two vertical (and invisible) lines running down the dial, one connecting the centres of the hour/minute and small second indicators, and the other linking the large date and moon phase displays. In turn, the lines are joined by another perfectly horizontal one that bisects the small second and large date displays. This nuanced arrangement was, according to Glashütte Original, inspired by the Golden Ratio. Closer study will reveal myriad other details on the dial, produced in-house by the manufacture’s facility in Pforzheim.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar, S$20,100

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar
Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

The Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar sports classic styling via its dial and hands to hark back to Ulysse Nardin’s past as a maker of marine chronometers, which contributed to transoceanic navigation. The movement beating within the timepiece is decidedly modern though, beginning with a silicium escapement and hairspring. Another fresh development here is the annual calendar that required just three additional wheels on top of the simple calendar mechanism, which has itself been pared down from 30-odd to around a dozen components. The result? Greatly improved convenience, as the date needs to be corrected just once a year. A chronograph function bumps up its appeal.

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Watch with Large Date, Retrograde Second Time Zone, and Day/Night Indicator, S$12,800

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Watch with Large Date, Retrograde Second Time Zone, and Day/Night Indicator
Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Watch with Large Date, Retrograde Second Time Zone, and Day/Night Indicator

This is a Cartier through and through; there’s no mistaking the classical styling that stems from the combination of minutiae here. Note for instance the Roman numeral indexes, the railway track chapter ring, and the silvered dial with a flinqué guilloché pattern. The remaining elements lend a fancier edge to the timepiece, beginning with a large date display at 12 o’clock. The second time zone complication takes things further with its atypical execution a retrograde indicator for the hour, which is paired with a separate day/night indicator.

Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer, S$5,400

Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer
Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer

A worldtimer complication isn’t exceedingly difficult to produce. Creating a worldtimer timepiece, however, is anything but, thanks to the sheer amount of information that must be presented on the dial harmoniously. Frédérique Constant has pulled it off here, and even managed to put various touches on the dial to increase its visual punch. A high contrast blue and white colour scheme ensures legibility, with dashes of red to anchor the GMT and Daylight Saving Time indications. The dial itself is built in tiers; the central world map is elevated above the cities and hour rings, while the date display is layered over it at six o’clock.


Photography GreenPlasticSoldiers
Art Direction
Joaelle Ng

This was originally published in WOW. We thank WatchesbySJX for insight given on the overall prices of steel watches in the luxury watch industry.

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