Limited Addiction: The Best of Limited Editions
Let’s face it, acquiring a watch that only a select few others will own is always an appealing proposition. We live in an industry saturated with the usual suspects—Submariners, Speedys, Seamasters, Daytonas, and Nautilusses (Nautili?) are everywhere, and though they are all icons worthy of collecting, there’s something to be said for being able to stand out from the pack.
Now, it’s only slightly ironic to say that there are countless limited edition watches out there to choose from, coming from just about every major brand on the market. Fact is, the statement is accurate, making our job particularly interesting when it came to narrowing down some of our favorites. Of our picks, the majority are current within the last year, and those that aren’t may well still be available either through the brands or on the secondary market.
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst
The Lange 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar is a glorious and complex beast to begin with, however when Lange added a Handwerkskunst variant to their catalog this past September (limited to 20 pieces worldwide), this instantly became the new must-have of the pack, its elaborate 5-piece enamel dial is completed in the champleve method, which means a plate is hand engraved removing a layer of material to create depth into which the enamel can be placed and fired.
Each of the light blue stars seen on its dial are part of that initial plate, and were kept just elevated enough to be covered by a thin layer of the blue enamel. Its caseback features more elaborate enamel work, as well as a relief engraving of the goddess Luna. Below this hunter caseback is a sapphire crystal exhibition back, where you can see that the starry pattern was continued on many of the movement’s bridges. At launch, the Handwerkskunst was listed at 290,000 euros.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox
One of the beloved releases from JLC this past January at SIHH, the new Polaris Memovox is the most true-to-original of the new Polaris collection, as well as being the only limited edition model released this year (limited to 1,000 pieces). Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the original Polaris Memovox released in 1968, the compressor-style diver’s alarm watch is rated to 20 bar of water resistance (~200m), and features a commemorative engraving on its solid steel caseback.
The level of detail paid to its execution is staggering, and looking at its dial, only the differences in materials for its indices, the size of the font of its numerals, and the broadness of the ribbing on its three crowns set it apart from its 1968 counterpart. The new model is destined to hit stores soon, with a price of $12,600, This seems a little steep compared to the $10,800 price tag of last year’s blue dial Memovox model, but given its scarcity and broad-level appeal, we suspect these guys will move pretty quickly.
F.P.Journe Vagabondage III
F.P. Journe’s stellar standout of 2017, the Vagabondage iii is the first ever mechanical wristwatch to display digital jumping hours, minutes, and seconds. Given its inherent complexity, there’s little surprise that Journe decided to limit its production to 68 examples in red gold, and 69 in platinum. The mechanical marvel is fitted into a compact tonneau-shaped case, with its inner workings visible through a smoked sapphire dial on one side and an exhibition caseback on the other. Given the amount of mechanical force required to drive its complex display, the piece has a relatively limited power reserve of roughly 40 hours packed into its hand-wound mainspring, though frequent winding is a small price to pay for such an exceptional timekeeping experience.
IWC Big Date Pilot Edition 150 Years
Unveiled as the first of its kind at SIHH this year, this is IWC’s first Big Pilot with a big date display. The dual-disc configuration is placed prominently at the 12 o’clock position, and is powered by a hand-wound caliber in-house IWC caliber with an 8-day power reserve. As part of the brand’s jubilee collection, the model is available in two editions featuring either a white or blue lacquer dial. The crisp white dial variant is (in our eyes) the hero of the two, as it is fitted with beautiful blued hands appears a fair bit more legible than its sibling. Both versions are limited to only 150 pieces each.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, Geneva Boutique Edition
There have been a healthy number of boutique-edition Offshore models to come out over the years, and more often than not they’re even better looking than their standard issue counterparts (remember the Rodeo Drive?). A couple years back, when AP launched their first series of bright neon Offshore chronographs at SIHH, we were informed that this killer neon green dial was to be limited to only 50 pieces, available solely through the Geneva Audemars Piguet boutique. We’ve since seen examples trading hands for a fair bit more than retail on the secondary market, proving that sometimes these special 50-piece editions are the smartest AP buys outside of the highly sought after AP Royal Oak Perpetual Ceramic.
Author: Justin Mastine-Frost