Van Cleef & Arpels Complication Poetique Midnight Planetarium watch

At $ 250,000, you probably won’t be able to afford the new Midnight Planetarium watch from Van Cleef and Arpels, but you will be able to enjoy this beautiful video of it for free:

As described by pocket-lint:

Not only is it encased in 18ct rose gold and sport double sapphire crystals, it features six of the planets of our solar system orbiting the Sun in real time.

Each of those planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – is itself represented with a precious stone. Aventurine, serpentine, chloromelanite, turquoise, red jasper, blue agate and sugilite have been employed to double as the planets and stars. The Sun is a similar rose gold to the frame.

The strap is made of alligator leather, but beyond the materials used, it is the mechanism inside that is truly spectacular. As each planet orbits the Sun in real time, that means some of them move very slowly indeed. For example, while it will take just three months for Mercury to complete an orbit, Saturn will take 29-and-a-half years.

You can see why Van Cleef & Arpels has stopped at Saturn. Uranus takes 84 years to complete an orbit, while Pluto takes 248. There’s little point having a dial on a watch that you are unlikely to ever see rotate.


Jaquet Droz – The Grande Heure GMT

The Grande Heure GMT from Jaquet Droz has two hands, but both of them are hour hands.

Grande Heure

From the description:

Never before has a watch presented such a clear, effortless indication of two time zones. This technological development is enhanced by the majestic hands in the form of a compass, a detail which hints at the navigational instruments used by sailors of another era. The red hand indicates local time while the blued steel hand shows the time at the destination. When the two hands come together in the same time zone they merge into a single, bicolored indication of the exact time.

How much does it cost? Well, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. (About $25,000, I think.)

Average Days from Mr Jones

I noticed that Mr Jones also made this 24-hour watch, the Average Days model, reminiscent of the Swatch watch, which had the similar idea of showing what you’re up to at different times of the day:


The dial of this watch visualises statistical research into how the average person spends their time. The slot on the hour-disc shows what the average person is doing at that time of the day. You can see at any time how you measure up to this notional individual. 

Professor Jonathan Gershuny, the Director of the Centre for Time Use Research provided us with an updated and customised data set for the activities mapped to the different times of the day for this watch.

It’s another limited edition, so hurry!

Mr. Jones Satellite 24 Hour Mystery Dial Limited Edition

From Watchismo comes news of the wonderfully-named Mr. Jones Satellite 24 Hour Mystery Dial Limited Edition watch.

Satellite is the first 24 hour watch from Mr. Jones, which means the hour hand makes one complete revolution of the dial in 24 hours.  The watch has an unconventional arrangement of hour and minute hands: the slow moving hour marker sits outside the the minutes.  This was inspired by the movement of celestial bodies: the more distant a planet is from the center of gravity the longer its orbit takes.  

Each hour is marked by a bright color and these colors follow a regular six hour pattern, so you can learn to read the time intuitively and at a glance.

However, this is a limited edition – only 100 pieces made – so if you want one, hurry up!

Emerald Chronometer

Emerald Chronometer HD is a watch simulator app for the iPad made by Emerald Sequoia. (There’s an iPhone version too, called Emerald Chronometer.) The app consists of fifteen watches (named after cities) created in software, with each watch offering different features on its front and rear faces.
At first glance, you might imagine that there’s not much point to simulating watches on an iPad. After all, doesn’t the iPad tell the time perfectly well, even if it doesn’t come with a built-in clock app, like its smaller brother?
But you’d be wrong: the developers of Emerald Chronometer have blended the legacy of centuries of fine watch-making craftsmanship with the latest interactive touch-screen technology to build a digital playground that lets you investigate the worlds of time-keeping and astronomy with your fingertips.
Each ‘watch’ offers a different approach to time. Rather than copy existing models, the designers have created new, imaginary watches that blend features from traditional time-pieces with features that you could expect to find only on an extremely expensive watch, or a powerful computer.
For example, the Vienna offers a traditional 24-hour display (the rear face offers a version with 12 at the top). The app synchronizes with the NTP protocol over the internet, which means that these watches almost certainly keep time more accurately than the iPad itself. I’ve clicked on the Time Synch button which pops up a display showing how far adrift my iPad is. The white, black, and grey bands on this and other watches show the current lengths of day, night, and moonlight periods.
Where the Vienna is simple, the Geneva is complex. The front face shows the time as fully as possible, including years and leap years (recognizing both Julian and Greogrian calendars), sun and moon rising and setting times, and moon phase and age. The rear face shows local apparent sidereal time on a 24-hour dial, the zodiac, equinoxes, and solstices, the positions of the lunar ascending and descending nodes – even whether there’s an eclipse soon.
But the real magic of this app is revealed when you ‘pull out’ (or tap) the crown for the current watch. The watch stops, and you can then pull and push the hands and indicators around the dial to your heart’s content. Watchmakers will find it unbearably painful to look at as you pull the hour and minute hands into different positions, or scroll the indicator dials up and down through the years with the flick of a finger. If, as you’re moving through time, there’s the possibility of an solar or lunar eclipse, the eclipse indicator at the top of the Geneva will let you know.
The Alexandria watch, named for Ptolemy’s home town, displays the time using a geocentric display; the Firenze watch, named for Galileo’s sometime home, is an orrery – a sun-centered display of the solar system. And in each case, you can drag the planets around to see how they move in space as you travel through time.
The Miami watch shows the rise, transit, and set times of all the planets (and the Sun and Moon), with a single hand on a 24-hour dial, and their current azimuth and altitude.
The Terra watch specializes in time zones: the front shows your chosen zone at the top, with a 24-hour ring to help you read off the time in other cities. Again, being able to move the rings round makes it easy to explore time zones and time differences. The rear face provides four dials for your favourite cities.

On the Olympia, you’ll find a stopwatch; on the Thebes, a countdown timer; and on the Istanbul, an alarm, which chimes like a traditional watch.
If you have an iPad (or an iPhone), this app is a cool and clever addition to your library, and a pleasant way to spend (and learn about) time.

eBay watch …

If you’re in the market for a 24 hour watch, it’s always worth checking out eBay, although ‘buyer beware’ is always good advice (and check shipping costs before you start bidding).
This Patek Phillippe example from the 19th century can be yours for about £10,000 or thereabouts.

At the other end of the range, this used Swatch watch sold today for less than £15.

This Omega pocket watch from the 1900s is still available for about $1750. Intriguingly, the four compass directions are marked at 12 (SUD), 15 (Ouest) , 6 (Est), and 24 (Nord): when you point the hour hand to the sun, these directions are correct.
On a quick tour of eBay this afternoon, apart from dozens of badly labelled 12 hour watches with extra 24 hour markings, I found some genuine 24 hour models: some Breitlings, a Tissot Navigator, and, as always, plenty of Swatch and Russian models on sale, although you need to be careful when you study the prices. As I said, check the shipping costs before you buy!