Luxury watches, appreciated for what’s inside



The new materials allow for extremely light components and housings, Thompson said. “These watches are so light and vaporous that when you have them on your wrist, you forget they’re there,” he said, referring to Richard Mille’s watches made from carbon nanofibers.

Tennis champion Rafael Nadal will wear a prototype of Mille’s latest watch, the $ 525,000 RM 027 Tourbillon, when he takes to the clay courts at Roland Garros in Paris for Roland Garros, Mr. Mille, CEO of the company that bears his name. . The watch weighs less than an ounce, including the bracelet, he says.

A total of 50 watches will be in stores at the end of July.

“People think a watch has to weigh a lot to be a luxury,” Mille said. “But there is no reason to add weight to create value. People have to overcome these notions.

Patek Philippe, which makes about 42,000 watches a year, is trying another advanced material, silicon, said Larry Pettinelli, president of Patek in the United States. Some moving parts formerly machined from metal will instead be etched in silicon. Laurent Junod, director of technical services for Patek in New York, said the shapes and dimensions could be controlled with such precision that these parts would work without oiling.

Mr Pettinelli said the mechanisms will soon be available in some watches, typically priced in the $ 30,000 range, for sale in New York City, where the company has a store at Tiffany’s.

MONTBLANC of Hamburg, Germany, a newcomer to fine watchmaking, began expanding its famous writing instruments to high-end mechanical watches in 1997. One of its new offerings, the Metamorphosis ($ 297,000), which is to be marketed by December, has two different faces with completely different functions, said Jan-Patrick Schmitz, president and CEO of Montblanc North America. Push a slider to the side, and the transformation begins: the watch face splits to reveal the stopwatch.



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