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Home > Business > Special

A starfish that also tells time!

April 16, 2005

If you want to know the time, look at your mobile phone display. If you want an expensive fashion accessory to take the breath away, buy a watch.

Even at the Basel watch fair in Switzerland -- that annual hotbed of chronometric activity -- not many of the high-profile companies were pretending that time-telling was the principal function of their timepieces. Oh no. What it's really about is fancy bejewelled dials, stylish moon phases and tourbillon movements with night-sky motifs.

New trends are a dime a dozen in the watch industry. The ever-increasing demand for ladies' luxury watches, for instance, has meant that many companies with a hitherto masculine image have added new product lines to their portfolios.

Maurice Lacroix's new ladies' collection Divina has a water and sea theme and is based on a starfish design. The dial starts with a classical rectangular base but then introduces soft curves to simulate the starfish look; this aims at creating a soft feminine appeal.

"Our intention was to marry Swiss watchmaking precision with the highest level of jewellery art," says product manager Sandro Reginelli.

Divina's limited-edition "Etoile de Mer" is available in five colour designs, each of which is restricted to 30 pieces (in cognizance of the fact that the company celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year).

The five models have the case and caseback decked with: black diamonds; rubies; pink, blue and yellow sapphires. Which helps explain the price: a cool 40,000 Swiss francs (or Rs 14.43 lakh).

Do moon movements make you loony? Watches that display moon phases are among Maurice Lacroix's strengths, so it's no surprise that the company has a new model in its Masterpiece Lune Retrograde range.

This model is available in platinum, white gold and yellow gold, priced at 38,000 Swiss francs, 17,000 Swiss francs and 16,000 Swiss francs (Rs 13.71 lakh, Rs 6.13 lakh and Rs 5.77 lakh) respectively.

If you're adventure-minded and enjoy telling anecdotes when people ask you about your wristwatch, the new Eterna KonTiki could be for you. In 1947, when the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl voyaged from Peru to Polynesia on a balsa wood raft (named the KonTiki), he was wearing an Eterna wristwatch.

The company managed to capitalise on this association and 58 years on it has launched its newest expedition watch, the KonTiki GMT. The rotary ring on this watch is divided into time zones by the use of reference cities.

By turning the outer bezel anticlockwise, any reference city on the inner rotary ring can be aligned with any time on the 24-hour time scale -- thus letting you know the current time in any of the world's major cities.

If, for instance, the time is 8 am in Delhi and you want to know the time in Tokyo, you simply turn the bezel anticlockwise until Delhi is aligned with the 8th hour.

The number now on the rotary ring opposite Tokyo corresponds to that time in that city. The KonTiki GMT is available for 3,050 Swiss francs (Rs 110,000).

If you're a music connoisseur, fond of jewellery and have 100,000 Australian dollars {Rs 33.73 lakh (Rs 3.4 million)} in your wallet, Raymond Weil's latest model in the Don Giovanni collection was made just for you.

The company has had a musical tradition, which is why the collection is named for the famous opera (a company spokesman also tells us the watch is, like Don Giovanni himself, a seducer).

The watch is a rectangular model and has a pink gold curved case set with 36 baguette cut diamonds (5.99 carats). The strap is genuine white alligator leather with an ardillon buckle in pink gold. The white mother-of-pearl dial has applied Roman numerals, again in pink gold.

For an elegant, silver-and-black design, consider Chopard's L U C Twist, which has a dial dominated by black and white, an allusion to the geometric creations that were popular in the 1960s.

The previous model, the L U C Regulator, won the "Watch of the Year" award last year. This model works on a movement designed by the company itself -- the mechanical self-winding "L U C 1.96" movement, with a power reserve of approximately 70 hours.

The crown (the knob on the side, which is used to set the time) is off-centre, between the 3 and 5 positions instead of being set at exactly the 3 o'clock mark.

Compared to some of the timepieces mentioned above, this is a positively minimalist design -- but hey, it isn't all about being showy.

  • Maurice Lacroix's Masterpiece Lune Retrograde (Rs 13.71 lakh at today's prices)
  • The Eterna KonTiki (Rs 1.1 lakh)
  • The Divina starfish design (Rs 14.43 lakh)
  • The Don Giovanni Cosi Grande (Rs 33.73 lakh)

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