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Feature: The Dream Watch Collection

Not everyone has been blessed with a casual means to buy whatever watches they like, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun to dream. The same way you might ogle a LaFerrari or a Leica M, it’s enjoyable to experience incredible luxury watches and wonder, what if? Well, wonder no more as we assemble what just might be the dream three watch collection—one that’s got a bit of a theme.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116509

Regardless of what you think of Rolex, it has to be acknowledged that the five-pointed crown is one of the most famous, admired and exclusive brands of the modern day. It’s become more than just a plucky watchmaker that took on the big boys and won, it’s a symbol of achievement, iconography that bears recognition around the world.

It makes sense that a dream collection would feature one, especially when it’s as exclusive and decadent as this Daytona 116509. You may think in passing that it’s a steel watch, but with it in the hand even for an instant, it becomes clear that there’s something more exotic going on. There’s almost 200 grams of white gold here, and boy can you feel it on the wrist.

But there’s more to this than precious metals, because the usually sombre monochromatic dial gets not only a dollop of colour, but a full sunburst finish for both the dial and the sub-dials. A red line, matching the ‘Daytona’ script, rings the sub-dials for a subtle pop of contrast.

It’s a blend of sportiness and flamboyance that sounds on paper like it wouldn’t work, but here, with an ounce more subtlety than the similar blue dial Yacht-Master 116622, it really comes together. What’s so impressive is its versatility, as comfortable in sandals as it is in Oxfords. Whether boat deck or board room, it’s happy; at least, I assume those are the kinds of places people who own a watch like this go.

The greatest string to Rolex’s bow has always been in making the simple exceptional; rather than pursuing incredibly unique design, or brain-curdling complexity, what you get is masterful execution of effortless simplicity in a way that just hasn’t been matched by anyone else. You get all of that here with the Daytona 116509, but in a way that’s even more special.

IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar IW503203

Every dream collection needs something complicated, and what better high complication to have than the perpetual calendar? It’s the ultimate encapsulation of time, from the most fleeting second to the longest century, all bottled up inside a case that can be strapped to your arm, like with this IWC Portuguese IW503203 here.

You would naturally think that the requirement to keep a track of not just days, dates, months and years, but leap years as well, would require a mechanical solution too complex to fit inside something this portable, but that’s the genius of the perpetual calendar, the ultimate expression of horological problem-solving on a miniature scale.

It’s as much a question of logic as it is mathematics and engineering, pinpointing that common denominator that ties this stellar range of time units together. The answer lies within a singular component called the program wheel, whose teeth would appear to the untrained eye as crooked as an Englishman’s.

The higgledy-piggledy shape of the program wheel is far from random, however, each tooth corresponding to the length of one month within a four-year cycle. This means that each quarter is identical—except for the month of February on the leap year, which accommodates one more day.

A lever then ‘feels’ the length of each tooth, the corresponding angle determining the number of days bypassed at the end of each month, ticking over all at once at midnight of the last day. From there, with the movement calibrated to show the correct date for each month and year, all the user needs to do is simply set it with a turn of the crown.

There are almost 30,000 days until the next skipped leap year—which happens three out of every four centuries—and that’s the point at which a perpetual calendar will need manual intervention from a watchmaker. You do get a pretty good run up until then, though.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 191.028

The Daytona may be a flexible wear, but a dream collection still needs something for those most formal of occasions, and it’s here the dress watch earns its crust. Sleek, slender, and oh so luxurious, the dress watch oozes class in the most refined way possible.

That doesn’t mean it has to be boring, however. If the idea of a plain Jane dress watch has you drifting into a slumber, there are still options, which A. Lange & Söhne is more than happy to demonstrate with the Lange 1.

It only takes a glance to realise that this is no ordinary watch, presenting an unusual dial arrangement that avoids being weird or wacky thanks to a level of refinement that has come to be expected from the German brand. Flourish isn’t quite the right word for it, because implies some kind of flamboyance the clinical execution of the Lange 1 avoids having—think more, ‘ornamental’. But … not.

It’s almost like a manufacturer of pump gauges decided to make a luxury version, and I mean that in the very best way, A. Lange & Söhne demonstrating functional restraint decorated in a manner that supports its operation rather than overpowering it. The old adage, ‘form follows function’ most certainly applies here, but would be more accurately represented as ‘exquisite form follows exceptional function’.

A. Lange & Söhne’s trademark big date is the party piece of the dial, a beautifully simple and pleasingly effective button mounted at ten o’clock advancing it forwards on those months shorter than 31 days. No more fiddling with the crown to change the date, leaving it free just for winding and—when needed—time setting duties.

That’s because this watch is what all good dress watches want to be: manual wind. It’s a special occasion winding a watch, and it’s usually a special occasion that dictates wearing one, so it stands to reason that winding the class-leading calibre L121.1 would be a part of the ritual of getting ready for an event, in much the same way a cutthroat shave and tying a bowtie can be. Never mind chocolate truffles or a thick and creamy yoghurt—it’s the Lange 1 that’s pure indulgence.

There aren’t many eventualities this magnificent trio of watches leaves lacking—to be honest, lacking is hardly the right word to be using in the company of such exceptional watchmaking—and as far as dreams go, having these three greet you when you open up your watch box is most certainly going to be one of the better ones. And let me tell you—the reality is even better than you’d think.

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