It was a year of cheap Breitling replica anniversaries at Baselworld, with special editions celebrating not just brands’ foundational dates, but anniversaries of key collections, archival icons, founders’ birthdays and more.
It seems almost anything is fair game as an inspiration for a special edition anniversary timepiece. A quick look through immediate past sales at Antiquorum and Christie’s, for example, reveals a Hublot 10th anniversary Big Bang celebrating the first Ferrari timepiece in China (selling for $81,250), an A. Lange & Söhne Langematik made to celebrate the Millennium in 2000 ($35,500), an Audemars Piguet platinum edition to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Maserati in 2005 ($22,672), and even a steel Rolex commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Sommozzatori of Italy’s Polizia di Stato (the diving corps of the Italian State Police) ($141,527). Even the most obscure fetch a premium.
These days attaching an anniversary to a timepiece doesn’t automatically add value. To reach investment status, anniversary pieces should also have a special movement, with a complication or an interesting combination of complications, something that constitutes a “first” (or perhaps a “last”) for the brand, or at least an elite movement, with silicon or ceramic components. Limited numbers also potentially affect the value.
MB&F, 10 years already
Anniversary editions were big at Baselworld this year. Tenth anniversaries were especially strong, starting with a piece that is totally unique in the world of replica Breitling watchmaking: MB&F’s Melchior, the latest incarnation of Max Busser’s adventures in transforming boyhood space fantasies into sophisticated timepieces for grown men. Melchior is a robot that is fitted with a clockwork – along with a gatling gun and a rocket launcher. The weapons are not functional, but the jumping hours, sweeping minutes and double retrograde seconds are functional. The escapement is located in the robot’s “brain”. It is powered by five mainspring barrels and runs at 2.5Hz, with a 40-day power reserve (which would no doubt be much shorter if the rocket launcher could engage). Created with prestigious Swiss clockmaker L’Epée 1839, Melchior is only the first of several anniversary pieces MB&F will create this year in celebration of its tenth anniversary, under the theme “A creative adult is a child who survived”. If uniqueness is a prerequisite for collectors’ potential, Melchior automatically has high intrinsic value. It is limited to 99 pieces.
10th anniversary of the Big Bang
Hublot celebrated 10 years of its signature collection, the Big Bang, this year by releasing not one, not two, but three limited editions, even creating a special anniversary logo for the press kit. It begins with the Big Bang Unico, the first all-gold Big Bang, made with the brand’s proprietary alloy, Magic Gold, a fusion of ceramic and gold. It contains the brand’s top-drawer in-house movement, the Unico, in a limited edition of 250 pieces. The second piece is a Big Bang Tourbillon 5-day Power Reserve, with a new tourbillon caliber, HUB6016 that is skeletonized, with a power reserve indicator at 9 o’Clock (with a 115 hours power reserve). The case and bezel are Magic Gold, with a titanium and rubber crown. It is limited to 50 pieces.
The third anniversary Big Bang is actually a series of 10 Big Bangs. Big Bang Unico 10 Years Haute Joaillerie is a collection of spectacular jewellery watches, each priced at $1-million (15 have already been sold). The watches are special for the complex setting techniques and gem cuts used, including invisible setting, clou de Paris setting (the gems are set to form tiny pyramidal shapes, resembling clou de Paris guilloché) and rail setting, in which the gems are set between rails of metal that are not visible. Cuts include baguettes (both black and white) and trapeziums, a type of step cut. Rubies and blue sapphires are also used. 400 hours of research and development and production, plus 350 hours of setting, are required to create one piece. The latest Breitling replica watches contain an elite movement, the Caliber HUB 1242 Unico flyback chronograph.
70th birthday for the Vintage 1945
Girard-Perregaux celebrates the 70th anniversary of its Vintage 1945 collection by introducing an anniversary edition with a tourbillon escapement, including the brand’s signature three gold bridges, an invention that garnered a gold medal for the brand at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1889. This movement for the anniversary piece was reshaped to adapt to the case shape of the original Vintage 1945, which is rectangular in the geometric Art Deco style. Like the original Vintage 1945, it is two-tone gold and steel, another hallmark of the Art Deco style. This is not the first time Girard-Perregaux has combined its two most iconic developments – the first Vintage 1945 Tourbillon was introduced in 2004, followed by several iterations in the rectangular case, including the unique Jackpot Tourbillon in 2006. The 70th anniversary editions are being made in two versions, one in 18k white gold (18 pieces), and the other in white gold, invisibly set with 112 baguette-cut diamonds totaling 5.72 carats (eight pieces). The back is satin-finished and engraved with the commemorative logo of the 70th anniversary.
The Bulgari Roma was created in 1975
Bulgari is celebrating 40 years of its Bulgari Roma timepiece this year. The Bulgari Roma was originally conceived in 1975 by founder Sotirio Boulgaris for 100 of his best clients. Bulgari now produces full collections containing in-house movements with traditional complications, all while remaining faithful to its contemporary approach to design. Among the anniversary pieces is an ultra-thin version, equipped with the hand-wound Bulgari Finissimo Caliber, with a small seconds counter and an ultra-slim tourbillon, powered by an in-house movement, the BVL 268, which holds the record as the world’s slimmest tourbillon. The movement was introduced last year in the Octo case, and now appears in the rounded Bulgari Roma, which makes it seem even slimmer with its sleek curves. The tourbillon is a 100-piece edition.
100th anniversary of the two-pusher chronograph
The Breitling Transocean Chronograph 1915 marks the 100th anniversary not of the brand, or a collection or a founder’s birthday, but of the two-pusher chronograph. In the early 20th century, all chronographs were monopushers, with the controls for starting, stopping, and returning the timer to zero all placed in the crown. In 1915, Gaston Breitling, son of founder Léon Breitling, designed a timing watch with a separate pusher to control the start, stop and reset functions. He placed it on the side of the case at 2 o’clock, just above the crown, which would soon become standard, as it was easy to reach and control on the wrist. The limited-edition Transocean Chronograph 1915 is a tribute to this design innovation – an angled pusher sits at 2 o’clock, above the fluted crown – but is updated with the dial and case design of the current Transocean collection. The silvered dial has a bicompax display: a small-seconds subdial at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. The best Cartier replica watches is fitted with Breitling’s manufacture movement, Caliber B14, which is manually wound and Chronometer-certified by COSC. It is a limited edition of 1,915 pieces.
Baume & Mercier, 185 years of existence
Baume & Mercier celebrates a 185th birthday this year with a piece from its most recent collection, the Clifton. The brand is known for its classic dress watches, and the anniversary piece, the Clifton 8-Day Power Reserve, therefore embodies this aesthetic. The rounded, stepped design of the case, slightly recessed crown, applied gilt hands and numerals and minimalist dial are all hallmarks of the elegant dress watch. The 45 mm case size makes for a large, and therefore uncluttered, dial. It contains a manufacture movement, based on fellow Richemont Group brand IWC’s caliber 59210, with a power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock and a small seconds at 6 o’clock. It is limited to 185 pieces, each marked “One out of 185” rather than with a specific number.
80 years for a Van Cleef & Arpels’ signature piece
Van Cleef & Arpels celebrated the 80th anniversary of one of its signature piece, the Cadenas, earlier this year at the SIHH. It is not marked as an anniversary edition, and it is neither numbered nor limited. But the redesign could be as valuable and collectible as iconic men’s models from big brands, as ladies’ pieces become more prominent in best Breitling fake watchmaking. It also has the power of a big brand name behind it, as well as a compelling narrative: the Cadenas was designed in 1935 and made famous in 1936 when it was gifted to the Duchess of Windsor by King Edward. The dial is discreetly angled so that only the wearer can see the time; to everyone else, it looks like a gold bracelet with a double snake chain and a chunky gold rectangular case. The new model remains faithful to the original, with three updates: the dial has been enlarged and is thus more visible (it is no longer considered impolite for a woman to check the time); there is a larger, more secure clasp on the bracelet; and the case is now decorated with snow-set diamonds. There are nine models in the new collection, including three pavé versions.