Movements and Complications

Time Flies with Jumping-hour Watches

These magnificent timepieces don’t need hour hands to tell the time.

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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.

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.

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.

Corum Eleganza

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.

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