From the resurgence of Art Deco shapes to the increased use of rose gold, the adage “What’s old is new again” is particularly true in watchmaking today, as artisans continue to build precision timepieces with reinterpreted motifs. Such is the case with regulator-dial watches.
A regulator is a timepiece whose hour and minute hands are offset separately on a dial instead of in the conventional configuration of two hands moving around the complete dial together. Generally, a regulator features a small sub-dial for the hour indications and a long minute hand that rotates around the dial, with an additional small sub-seconds indication often part of the construction.
Regulators were originally conceived centuries ago in clock form to “regulate” the rate of standard two-hand timepieces, which were considered less precise than the separate-pinioned time indication. Today, this vintage off-centered look has become an aesthetic coveted by watch lovers and fans of avant-garde design.
Among the brands creating unusual regulator watches today, is Ressence. The company’s Type 3 is a complex instrument that holds several patents and features indications of the hour, minute, second, day, and date. The sub-dials are suspended in fluid that gives the appearance that they are displayed directly on the sapphire crystal. It retails for $42,200. Bell & Ross offers the WW 1 Régulateur watch that houses an automatic Dubois Dépraz movement with hours at 12:00, a central minutes hand, and a seconds counter at 6:00. It is made in a limited edition of 99 pieces in 18k pink gold and retails for $22,000. From Glashütte Original, the Senator Chronometer Regulator houses a DKD-certified chronometer mechanical movement and is made in Germany. This beauty retails for $31,500. AT the top end of the line, Breguet offers teh Classique Grande Complication Automatic Tourbillon 5307 watch. Crafted in gold, with a finely decorated silver dial, it houses a mechanical movement with a tourbillon escapement and retails for $117,700. (This article, written by Roberta Naas, first appeared in Michigan Avenue Magazine this month.)