Time Flies with Jumping-hour Watches
These magnificent timepieces don’t need hour hands to tell the time.
Jumping-hour watches are unusual timepieces, which is apparent from just a quick glance at the dial. Instead of telling time in the traditional way, with hour and minute hands, they use an aperture to show the hour. This might look easy, like a simple date window, but in reality, it’s quite complex and requires a significant amount of power. When the hour changes, a disc instantly jumps from one hour to the next, stopping at just the right spot in the center of the aperture. As if this weren’t impressive enough, some watchmakers combine jumping hours with retrograde minutes, so the minute hand snaps back from 60 to 0 at the same time. Synchronizing both is a feat.
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk
The Zeitwerk is one of the only watches to have not just jumping hours, but jumping minutes, as well. The dial is sleek and harmonious. It displays hours at 9 o’clock and minutes at 3 o’clock. There’s a seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and a power-reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. The movement is finely finished, as all A. Lange & Söhne timepieces are. The Zeitwerk comes in rose and white gold, as well as limited editions in its proprietary honey gold.
While the Chanel Monsieur watch was technically released as Chanel’s first men’s watch, the 40mm watch is the perfect size for all wrists. The watch features the in-house Calibre 1 movement, which combines jumping hours with 240-degree retrograde minutes. There’s also a small seconds subdial above the jumping hours. This limited-edition model has a stunning black Grand Feu enamel dial. The bezel, case, and lugs are set with baguette-cut diamonds. The jumping-hour is displayed in an octagonal aperture at 6 o’clock that’s reminiscent of the shape of the cap of a Chanel No 5 perfume.
Chopard L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25
Chopard’s L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 is the rare jumping-hour watch that tells the minutes in a traditional way, which makes the strangeness of a single hand really stand out. You’ll do a double take, wondering where the hour hand is, until you see the aperture at 6 o’clock. This watch has four barrels that provide up to eight days of power reserve. The magnificent white Grand Feu enamel dial has a railroad-style minutes track. This is Chopard’s first jumping-hour watch, created in honor of the 25th anniversary of the L.U.C collection.
Andersen Genève Jumping Hours 40th
Independent watchmaker Andersen Genève celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2020, an impressive achievement for a small brand. Andersen Genève is known for its stunning guilloché dials and impressive complications, including unusual perpetual calendars, automatons, and jumping-hour watches. This anniversary edition was nominated for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (the watch equivalent of the Academy Awards), and it’s easy to see why. The elegant dial is an exercise in restraint. It features an intricate “magic losange” guilloché motif on the dial. While all guilloché is difficult work, this design is particularly unique, requiring three different machines to create the pattern. It shows hours via an aperture at 12 o’clock and minutes by a discreet subdial at 6 o’clock. The blue dial is not enamel, as you might expect, but rather the brand’s signature 21K blue gold. It comes in a platinum case and has a 60-hour power reserve.
Bulgari High-jewelry Jumping-hour Watch
It’s rare to see complications on high-jewelry timepieces, which is why we love this high-jewelry watch from Bulgari so much. Its beautiful diamond-set dial has a swirling, three-dimensional design set with significant emeralds, and the bezel is set with even more diamonds. But it’s not just beautiful: It combines jumping hours with retrograde minutes. The hours are shown via an aperture at 12 o’clock and minutes on the bottom half of the dial.
Bovet Virtuoso V
Bovet uses its jumping-hour watches to showcase its métiers d’art, as well as its impressive movements. It displays retrograde minutes at 12 o’clock in a small minutes track and the date aperture in the center of the dial. Its artisans use the rest of the dial for stunning works of art, including guilloché and decorative engraving. What’s perhaps most impressive is the fact that this watch has a five-day power reserve. The Virtuoso V is part of the Amedeo collection, which is transformable. It can be worn front or back on the wrist, used as a pocket watch, or converted to a table clock. Since the Virtuoso V is two-sided, Bovet’s watchmakers added a clever function that allows it to show different time zones on either side of the watch. The back has a small dial with traditional hours and minutes hands, and also displays the beautiful movement.
Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Féerie
This dreamy watch from Van Cleef & Arpels combines métiers d’art, retrograde minutes, and a jumping hour. The gorgeous dial features a gem-set fairy seated on puffy mother-of-pearl clouds. The sky is crafted from colorful guilloché mother-of-pearl and set with shimmering diamond stars. Instead of a traditional minute hand, Van Cleef & Arpels playfully uses the fairy’s arm and wand to indicate the minutes. When the hour changes, the hand instantly snaps back to zero. The jumping hours are indicated at 6 o’clock in an aperture. The aperture represents the moon peeking out from beneath the clouds. The fairy is a work of art: She has plique-à-jour enamel wings, and her body is set with diamonds and sapphires.
Harry Winston Ocean Tourbillon Jumping Hour
This architectural watch from Harry Winston combines jumping hours with a skeletonized tourbillon. The top half has an off-center dial with a gold minute track that matches the rose gold case. Instead of a traditional minute hand, a small red triangle moves around the minute track. An aperture at 12 o’clock shows the jumping hour. The bottom half of the dial is dedicated to showing the impressive tourbillon. The tourbillon is suspended by four bridges and placed in a circular window that echoes the design of the time display.
Corum has a gorgeous women’s watch with jumping hours. The Eleganza collection has several models in different colors, including a blue version set with diamonds and a purple one set with amethyst, with jumping hours. At 12 o’clock, there’s a small minutes subdial and the hour aperture. The dial is nicely balanced by a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. It has a 42-hour power reserve.
MB&F takes an avant-garde approach to jumping-hour watches in the HMX. It looks more like a wearable miniature supercar sculpture than a watch. But on the side, it features bi-directional jumping hours and trailing minutes. You might be thinking that it’s impossible for the jumping-hour disk to be positioned vertically in the watch, and you’d be right. MB&F placed two disks with mirror-image numerals at the top of the dial that are “projected” into the time-display window using sapphire crystal optical prisms.
Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport
Gérald Genta is a legend in watchmaking. Not only is he the designer behind iconic models such as the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, but he pushed the boundaries of horology. In fact, he was the first to combine jumping hours with retrograde minutes. The Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport, first released in 2020, has a jump-hour aperture at 12 o’clock and retrograde minutes that trace the top of the dial. The bi-retrograde in the name refers to both the retrograde minutes and retrograde date function at 6 o’clock. As the watch strikes midnight on the 31st, the date will instantaneously snap back to 1. (If it’s a month that ends in 28 or 30, you will have to manually adjust the date.) It comes in a titanium case with a black dial and yellow accents that pop.