This article was contributed by avid watch collector and travel writer Charlotte McCulloch, who writes for TravelSupermarket.com. Since living in Singapore as a child and travelling to countries such as Thailand, Borneo and Australia, she has always had a keen interest in travel. More recent holidays include trips to Paris, New York and the islands around Spain.
The smooth sweep of a carefully conceived and executed timepiece is a wondrous thing. European craftsmen have learnt from past generations how to create the most exquisite watches. For watch enthusiasts, a great way to see the continent is to combine a visit to Europe’s finest cities with a chance to explore their watches. Each of the destinations on our tour of Europe feature watches made in that country, each in their own way reflect their national identity and at the same time display superlative watchmaking skills. Let’s go.
London – Bremont
To start your trip around Europe the ideal starting point is the home of Bremont watches – London. The 2012 Olympic city has a lot to offer both culturally and therapeutically as there are no end of tempting boutiques and department stores – some of which sell Bremont watches. Although the brand is distinctively British, Bremont make their watches in Biel-Bienne in Switzerland.
However, Selfridges on Oxford Street has a wide selection of Bremonts. Bremont is famed for their aviation watches, and most recently the magnificent limited edition Victory Watch. Destined to bring tears to the eyes of any true Englishman, the watch is built from genuine fragments of timber and copper from Lord Nelson’s ship HMS Victory. You will then only be a stone’s throw from Covent Garden and Shaftsbury Avenue so you can have some dinner and visit the Royal Opera House, all timed by your new watch.
Paris – Bell & Ross
A short hop over the Channel and you can visit France for an opportunity to buy a Bell & Ross. Headed by French designer Bruno Belamich, this company launched in 1992 and creates wonderfully authentic aviation timepieces.
As with Bremont, Bell & Ross watches are actually constructed in Switzerland, but Paris’s Champs Elysee and particularly Horlogerie-Joaillerie les Champs d’Or has an excellent selection. Look out for the exquisite Limited Edition Bell & Ross WW1 Jump Hour watch, available in 18k rose gold and platinum. Each model will be limited to just 25 pieces for the platinum, and 50 for the rose gold.
Once you are in Paris, you would be well advised to wander around the other boutiques on the Champs Elysee or visit the looming Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame on the Ile de Cite.
Paris has no end of fine dining and hotels for you to enjoy while you decide which timepiece to choose. Montmartre has a wide selection of small hotels that will make you feel you have stepped into the city’s artistic history.
Madrid – Artauro Watches
If you prefer the decidedly Mediterranean designs of Artauro Watches, all you have to do is travel south to Spain.
Artauro Watches are designed by husband and wife team Juan Moragas and Magdalena Ferrara Martinez, who were inspired by the Spanish symbol of the virile bull. Artauro is the only Spanish company providing Swiss precision watches and they use as their logo the silhouette of a bull to proudly reflect their design origins.
The design of the watches is based on the arched ‘puertas’ of Las Ventas, Spain’s oldest bullring in Plaza de Toros, Madrid. There is no reason you cannot travel to buy one of these watches and then go to watch the skilled matadors taking on an animal – while it’s still legal that is.
The hotels Lusso Infantas and Tryp Diana are widely recognised as two of the best that Madrid has to offer. You can base yourself in one of them before heading off to watch Real Madrid play football or taking in a flamenco show.
Milan – Bulgari Watches
Another famously passionate Mediterranean country, Italy has a lot to offer in terms of watches and scenery as well. The world-famous brand Bulgari needs no introduction. A visit to Milan will allow you to see the brand’s flagship store on the Via dei Condotti, which has been open since 1905.
The watches themselves are made by a subsidiary, Bulgari Time S.A, which was founded in 1980 in Neuchatel. Latest releases include the new Diagono collection for 2012, made from ceramic pink gold and steel, these watches are said to to subtly evoke the Ancient Greek word agòn, meaning “competition”. The name of the model echoes the Discobulus of Myron, the famous Greek sculpture of a discus thrower.
Saxony – Glashütte Original
Head North once again to enjoy a taste of German efficiency and precision in the form of Glashütte Original watches. These watches are named after the town in which they are made in the Saxony region. This tiny town is nestled in beautiful hills in the former East Germany. For more than 165 years, the name “Glashütte” has been a synonym for high-quality watchmaking, German precision, and exquisite design. From the smallest screw to the most complicated movement, timepieces by Glashütte Original are made in their own manufactory, with a great deal of the work done by hand.
Check out the sexy GO Senator Sixties Chronograph and then go celebrate your purchase with a few Radeburger pilsners at your favourite open air cafe. Anytime is beer time in Saxony.
Amsterdam – Christian Van Der Klauuw
The final stop on this precision-engineered tour of Europe is Holland to peruse the shops that carry the highly exclusive Christian Van Der Klauuw watches. At the Amsterdam Watch Company on Reestrat 3 you can view the designer’s contribution to the horological world. This particular company will also offer to personalise your watch. You can have your own rotor made or even have rose-gold details added.
Master Dutch watchmaker Christiaan van der Klaauw specialises solely in the design and manufacture of astronomical watches and has recently launched what will be the first piece in a series of twelve unique watches: The Aquarius Planetarium.
Amsterdam itself is famous for the Anne Frank house, the brave Dutch Jewish girl whose diaries gave a touching portrayal of a life in hiding as the Nazis ruthlessly hunted jews street by street in war time Amsterdam. Her diary ends abruptly on the day she was captured and she tragically did not survive the concentration camp. Alternatively, you could visit the wonderful Van Gogh museum. But be warned, after acquiring a Van der Klaauw you’ll barely have enough pocket change left to buy a Van Gogh souvenir keyring.
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