Watch brands big and small are cashing in on SG50 with special-edition watches to mark Singapore's 50 years of independence.
Not all watch brands are doing it, but the numbers are notable. Big names like Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet have come up with commemorative timepieces, not just to celebrate the occasion, but also to raise money for charity.
With a few exceptions, the special editions - priced between S$149 and S$36,600 apiece - are limited to 50 pieces.
These watches are popular, with quite a few having been sold out.
Among the early birds was Ball Watch, which claimed to be the first Swiss watch brand to create an exclusive timepiece to commemorate Singapore's 50th birthday.
Ball Watch Singapore launched the stainless steel Fireman Night Train SG50 last December; customers who pre-ordered it picked up the watch in February. Priced at S$2,800, the automatic mechanical watch is limited to 1,000 pieces and boasts 93 micro-gas tubes - the highest number ever used in Ball's timepieces.
The brand said: "This gives the watch outstanding instant legibility, thanks to the use of these micro tubes,which house luminescent 3H gas, to form the letters 'SG' and the number '50'."
It is the first time Ball has used its gas light arrangements to form letters.
Ball Watch Singapore will donate S$50 for every Fireman Night Train SG50 watch sold to the Autism Resource Centre; it has pledged to raise S$10,000 for the centre.
"We have sold a couple of hundreds of this model, which was beyond our expectation; this is by far, our best SKU (stock keeping unit)," said a Ball Watch sales and marketing executive.
Longines' rose-gold timepiece for SG50, unveiled in January, was sold out even before the watches arrived in the shops. The numbered GMT complication from the Swiss brand's Master collection, which covers 24 time zones, is a limited edition at 50 pieces, priced at S$9,990 each.
The word "Singapore" appears in red on the collar of the watch.
Longines, part of the giant Swatch group, said: "The transparent case back, through which the scintillating (automatic) movement can be observed, also bears a commemorative print which endows each watch with an exclusive identity."
Japanese watch brand Orient sold all 50 pairs of its SG50 limited-edition timepieces at S$500 a pair in three days.
The brand also raised S$4,300 from the auction of five pairs of the watch, with the money going to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.
Daryl Chang, operations manager of Leslie Chang Pte Ltd, the Singapore distributor for the brand, said: "The SG50 pair was marketed mainly on social media and e-platforms."
Leslie Chang also sells Giordano watches, which has launched a Giordano SG50 model in a limited edition of its 1965 timepieces. Each of the quartz-driven watches sells for S$149.
Much higher on the price list is Swiss watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre's the Grande Reverso Night & Day Singapore Special Edition. The self-winding mechanical reverso timepiece, for which only 50 are available, carries a S$13,900 price tag.
Its second side on the case-back is an exquisite lacquering of the Singapore map and the years of Singapore's independence on it.
But the most expensive SG50 watch is the Star Classique Singapore Special Edition made by Montblanc, which, like Jaeger-LeCoultre, belongs to the Swiss luxury group Richemont.
The timepiece, sporting a slim 39 mm red-gold case housing an automatic movement, costs S$14,200 in a limited edition of 50 pieces.
Its seconds sub-dial at 6 o'clock has a red hand featuring a lion's head, the symbol of Singapore as the Lion City. Under the lion is the 'SG 50' inscription.
Singapore's skyline decorates the case-back, with the outlines of some of its iconic buildings: Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Flyer and the Gardens by the Bay.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of this watch will go to the Pathlight School's Poor and Needy Fund.
Audemars Piguet's offering, in line with its commitment to worldwide forest conversation and environmental protection, is a floral-clock, which the independent Swiss watch brand will present as a gift to Singapore. It will be Singapore's only sizeable public floral clock.
Patek Philippe has created three unique dome table clocks for SG50 in cloisonne enamel. These will be auctioned, with the money raised going to various charities.
One of the clocks has artists' impression of the Esplanade skyline and buildings on it.
Meanwhile, local watch dealers The Hour Glass and Crystal Time have lined up events to celebrate SG50.
The Hour Glass is setting up a pop-up store on Orchard Road, which will be highlighted by the "Red Dot" Bang, a watch made by Swiss brand Hublot.
The watch, fitted with skeletonised chronograph movement, comes in a 44 mm case in either Hublonium or yellow gold.
The first, in a limited edition of 50 pieces, is a mixture of magnesium and aluminium, which makes the case light yet durable. Its price: S$36,600.
The yellow-gold case version, apart from paying tribute to Singapore, was made to mark the 10th birthday of Hublot's highly successful "Big Bang" model.
Limited to 10 pieces, the watch retails for S$66,400.
Crystal Time will hold an exhibition on Aug 30 at VivoCity to show off 10 Arbutus Singapore Jubilee Limited Edition watches. These mechanical timepieces, made by watch brand Arbutus, have miniature artwork by young Singaporean artists on their dials.
They sell for S$1,800 each, with the proceeds to be donated to non-profit arts schools in Singapore.
This article was first published on August 7, 2015.
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