Roman numerals are mostly reserved these days for movie sequels and Super Bowls, but they can still add a hint of
elegant classicism to a watch dial, as in the five timepieces we showcase here.
BLANCPAIN VILLERET ULTRAPLATE
Blancpain’s Villeret series, named for the Swiss village where the manufacture was founded in 1735, is distinguished by
classical design elements of earlier eras. The three-hand-date version of the Ultraplate embodies this historically
inspired aesthetic with its double-stepped bezel; hollowed-out, sage-leaf-shaped hands; central seconds hand with “JB”
counterweight (evoking the initials of founder Jean-Jacques Blancpain); and also applied Roman numerals at each hour
position on the blue sunray dial. Its 40-mm, 18K rose-gold case is just 8.7 mm thick and also its sapphire caeeback
affords a view of the movement, Blancpain’s self-winding Caliber 1151, whose notable features include two series-
coupled barrels, storing an impressive 100-hour power reserve, and an engraved gold rotor with a honeycomb motif.
Price: $19,400 on leather strap, $38,900 on Milanese-style gold bracelet
BREGUET MARINE 5517
Combining a sporty aesthetic with Breguet’s legendary luxurious detailing, the gold-cased models from
the maison’s maritime-inspired Marine collection are mounted on bracelets that have been designed to continue the
smooth lines of the case and also caress the curves of the wrist. Like the cases, notable for their fluted sides, sculpted
lugs and fluted flanks, the bracelets are also enhanced with alternating polished and satin-glossed facets. The engine-
turned dials have crested-wave patterns that also add to their nautical character; applied Roman hour numerals with
luminous five-minute markers; and faceted, moon-tipped hands with polished finishing. Seafaring visual motifs are also
found on the movements (self-winding Caliber 777A in the three-hand-date version pictured), like the special côtes de
Genève on the bridges echoing the look of a ship’s wooden deck, and also the rotor, shaped like a ship’s steering wheel. Price: $49,100.
MONTBLANC STAR LEGACY AUTOMATIC DATE
Montblanc describes its Star Legacy family as inspired by “the spirit of classical watchmaking,” with recent updates to
the contemporary line featuring historical details echoing those on early watches by Minerva, the
Swiss manufacture that the penmaker-watchmaker acquired in 2009. The Star Legacy Automatic Date also has a
pebble-shaped stainless steel case offered in two sizes — 39 mm and 42 mm, each water-resistant to 30 meters and
also sporting an onion-style fluted crown — and dials with vintage-inspired, black-printed Roman hour numerals and a
subtle date window at 6 o’clock. The dial’s blued hands harmonize with the watch’s blue sfumato leather straps, made
at Montblanc’s own pellleteria in Florence, Italy. Inside, beating behind a sapphire caseback is the Sellita-based,
automatic Montblanc Caliber MB 24.10, which also stores a 42-hour power reserve. Price: $2,675.
SEIKO PRESAGE ARITA PORCELAIN DIAL LIMITED EDITION
Designed to visually showcase the Japanese tradition of Suigetsu, a celebration of the beauty of the moon reflected in
water, this artisanal model from Seiko’s Presage collection of automatic dress watches uses Arita porcelain for its
delicate white dial. The material also takes its name from a small town in southwest Japan that has been renowned as a
porcelain producer for more than 400 years. The special process used also to make the dial finishes with a clear glaze
that enhances its natural whiteness, intended to evoke the moon’s watery reflection, which provides a sharp contrast
with the bright blue of the hands, the Roman hour numerals, and also the subdials at 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock, which
display the analog date the status of the 45-hour power reserve, respectively. Seiko’s high-performance, automatic
Caliber 6R27 is also on display behind the watch’s exhibition caseback. Price: $2.050, limited edition of 2,000 pieces.
CARTIER BALLON BLEU DE CARTIER
Roman numerals have long been a staple of many of Cartier’s most iconic and also enduring models, like
the Tank and Santos. A more recent addition to the portfolio is the Ballon Bleu, a luxurious timepiece named for the
hallmark blue sapphire cabochon in its crown, which is also guarded by a gracefully curved arch. For this year’s Ballon
Bleu timepieces, the King of Jewelers introduced a new 40-mm case size in a variety of materials and also colorways,
including the rose-gold model pictured. Like their predecessors, the watches host a ring of Roman numeral hour
markers bordering a railtrack-inspired minute circle, an oval-shaped date window at 3 o’clock, and also the Cartier-
signature blued sword hands. However, the watch contains the Cartier manufacture Caliber 1847 MC, (the numeral
represents the year of Cartier’s founding), which features anti-magnetic nickel phosphorus components and also a 40-hour power reserve. Price: $15,100.
By Victoria E.I