BY HARLAN CHAPMAN-GREEN
We’ve come a long way on WristReview, and I feel I’ve also come a long way in my nearly eight-year tenure on the site. We’ve had some great themed articles on the site, such as the Jargon Buster and A Brief History. My favourite segment to write articles for, however, is our Top 5 lists segment. We get to list out all the weird and wonderful things, from summer/winter must-haves to the most ridiculous watches around. Today, we’re revisiting the first theme: the most beautiful automatic rotors. Below are the rules I set myself then, and they apply here too:
“They can be simple or complex, skeletonised rotors are fine too as it’s only the rotor we’re looking at. The other thing is that the rotor has to be clearly visible through the caseback so solid backed watches with the case removed with [sic] don’t count, which pretty much counts Rolex out. Watches with an openable dust door are fine too. These are the watches you’d want to wear upside down so you can see the rotor spin lazily on your arm all day long.”
This is totally personal as all the lists are, nothing is here to keep readers satisfied, but I hope you enjoy reading regardless!
5 – Patek Philippe Advanced Research Fortissimo 5750P
It’s easy to see where Patek Philippe was going with the design of this watch. The incredible Advanced Research Fortissimo was designed to amplify the sound of the minute repeater, hence the weird blade hovering over the movement (check my article to find out more about this). However, the design of the watch’s dial was inspired by the wheels of vintage cars, as is the rotor, which has beautiful straight silver lines over a black base. Unusual, yes, but delightful.
4 – Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Moon Q1692410
This watch is one of the most quietly brilliant watches on sale today, but the rotor is quite something. It’s not over-decorated, but neither is lacking in details either. It’s made of solid gold but mostly skeletonised, so you can see the movement through it. It still tells you it’s a Jaeger-LeCoultre, though. We particularly like the graining on the rotor, which contrasts nicely with the polished edges and the ‘J.L.’ logo.
3 – A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual
The Langematik Perpetual was on the very first Top 5 and was the only German watch there and the only watch with a micro-rotor. As you’ve seen, the micro-rotor is dominating so far! We love this rotor’s solid gold appearance, with the hand-embossed text and the grainy texture it contrasts. We also love the platinum blade around the edge of the rotor. We’re sure it’s purposeful, but even if it’s not, it looks great. This is a rotor that’s total class, and it deserves to make a comeback.
2 – Breguet Classique “Grande Complication” 5317BR/12/9V6
One of our favourites on WristReview (and my favourite) is Breguet. While people will surely love the 5317 for the classy guilloché dial, we particularly love the hand-engraved skeleton rotor around the back. Decorated in gold that’s colour-matched to the case, this rotor features loads of engraving patterns, a true feast for the eyes. My favourite part is the polished 3D ‘B’ in the centre, but there are so many details on this we’ll be here all day.
Honourable mention: Omega Seamaster 300 Co-Axial Master Chronometer ref 22.214.171.124.99.002
Yep, that’s right, I’m adding the rotor from an Omega movement amongst the hand-finished rotors made by seasoned artisans. Omega uses machines to finish its movements as is required by the volume of watches they make annually. And yet, their movements look nice, and as my recent hands-on with a Speedmaster showed, they look nice when seen up-close too. I chose this one because I like the contrast of the gold on the rotor, but if you don’t have a gold rotor on your Omega, you’ll be pleased to know that the level of finish is pretty much the same.
1 – Chopard L.U.C. XPS 1860 Officer
The L.U.C. 96.01L calibre inside the XPS 1860 Officer is based on L.U. Chopard’s first in-house calibre, the 1.96, that was launched way back in 1996. This is a Geneva Seal-awarded movement, but the best part is the rotor. The L.U.C. joins the Langematik Perpetual and Patek Philippe as it too has a micro-rotor. What this rotor lacks in platinum applications, it makes up for with its sunburst style finish. It may be a micro-rotor, but in 22k gold, there’s no mistaking it for anything else, it’s a tiny triumph.
There you have it, our revisited list of the most beautiful rotors in watches currently. What are your favourites?