These Watches Are Proudly Made In Switzerland, But Prouder Still Are Their Homages To Other Cultures

A toast to to these Swiss timepieces that are wonderfully inclusive and diverse.
by Charmian Leong
Culture watches

Photo: H. Moser

Haute horlogerie has, for a long time, been associated with Swiss timekeeping and traditions. But as our interconnectedness grows, with talented independent watchmakers and established watch brands now hailing from all corners of the world, so has the number of timepieces that toast this wonderfully inclusive diversity.

In 2022, Urwerk humbly hid its signature satellite hour display under an intricate dial engraved with patterns inspired by the Aztec Sun Stone, becoming the first UR-100V Time and Culture watch. The intention behind this collection was to celebrate how humanity has perceived time across history and cultures.

Its recent follow-up, the UR-100V Time and Culture II “Sumer”, takes us even further back to 3000 BC — to the age of the Sumerians in the city of Ur. Interestingly, the Sumerians developed the base-60 counting system, a foundation that would later influence the Babylonians in structuring our current system of dividing the hours and minutes into units of 60.

The 49.7mm by 41mm watch features a four-pointed sun motif in the centre, representing the sun god Utu, while the moon god Nanna motifs are placed right above the two ends of the minute track. Laser-engraved sky charts adorn the rest of the case, and the vivid blue hue was chosen because of its resemblance to lapis lazuli, a stone associated with Innana — the goddess of love, war, and fertility.

Recits de Voyages capsule collection. (Photo: Vacheron Constantin)

On the other hand, Vacheron Constantin has harboured the ambition of showcasing its exquisite timepieces globally since the early 19th century. The latest addition to the Les Cabinotiers line, the Recits de Voyages capsule collection, pays homage to these historic journeys, comprising nine unique models that boast exceptional metiers d’art.

Their four-piece “Memorable Places” set features gold dials micro-sculpted into famous landmarks from Geneva and the Far East. These include the Tour de I’ile in Geneva, where the maison bases its workshop, Angkor Thom in Cambodia, and Beijing’s Summer Palace and Confucius Temple.

H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Chinese Calendar Limited Edition. (Photo: H.Moser)

And while Blancpain may have presented the world’s first wristwatch with a traditional Chinese calendar, and Parmigiani Fleurier can boast the most comprehensive one, H. Moser & Cie’s interpretation is, impressively, the easiest to read and use.

Measuring 40mm by 12mm, the dial snags attention with two crescent-shaped incisions on either side. The one on the left shows the Chinese lunisolar months, while the right displays the lunisolar days and corresponding moon phases, both indicated by round-tipped hands that move in retrograde.

At 12 o’clock lies a trapezoid-shaped window for the year and zodiac animal, and when a 13th month appears (an occurrence that happens every two to three years), the window will be black. Also included is a regular Gregorian date at 6 o’clock, just under the small seconds subdial.

Unlike other Chinese calendar watches that require at least 70 manual corrections every 12 years (due to the inherent irregularity of the lunisolar calendar), the Endeavour Chinese Calendar only needs a replacement of the cams that track the months every 12 years.

Culture watches

L.U.C Skull One Calavera Pop Art. (Photo: Chopard)

Paper banners. Painted faces. Sugar skulls. Bright orange marigolds. The Mexican Day of the Dead is a mirthful celebration that honours loved ones who have passed. In 2018, Chopard decided to join in the revelry by releasing a one-off L.U.C Perpetual T Spirit of “La Santa Muerte” for the Salon Internacional de Alta Relojeria (SIAR) watch fair in Mexico ahead of the festival.

Since then, the maison salutes its deceased father figure, founder Louis-Ulysse Chopard, using a cheeky moustachioed skull motif in all its subsequent skull-themed watches. The fourth instalment of the L.U.C Skull One — the Calavera Pop Art — series features a cheery dial in the colours of the Mexican flag, cased in a 40mm black DLC stainless steel case.

This story originally published on The Peak Singapore.

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