Watches: Harry Winston Project Z8 Retrograde Dual Time (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on April 26, 2014

A long-time favourite for high-end jewellery, Harry Winston entered the fine watchmaking world in 1989 when the horological world was just recovering from the quartz crisis. Right from the beginning, it was clear that this honourable House was not simply trying to increase its turnover with a few heavily gem-set timepieces but was taking Haute Horology seriously and was definitely committed to bringing its own take on this ancient art.

Over the years, the prestigious collaborations for the Opus series launched by Maximlian Büsser have undoubtedly helped increase the brand awareness in the eyes of the public and its reputation in the horological spheres, but all the other collections are also a clear statement of the brand’s incredible horological know-how and of its absolutely unique aesthetic sense. The brand’s motto “only the exceptional” surely applies to its horological production both technically and aesthetically.

Although I can’t think of a single timepiece from the brand I do not like, I must confess an unconditional love for the “Ocean” collection in general and its sub-line, the “Project Z”, in particular. For me, these watches epitomise the brand’s horological values: high-end and original movements with intricate displays and a bold design with a lot of attention to details and finishing to keep it luxurious and exclusive.

At this year’s Basel fair, the brand unveiled the eighth “project” in this exciting series. Like previous models, the case of this 44 mm watch is crafted in Zalium, a zirconium-based alloy exclusive to the House that is lighter and harder than titanium. To me, however, its main appeal remains its matt gunmetal grey colour that gives a unique look to these stunning models.

What is new, though, is the fact that the Project Z8 is the first model of the series to incorporate a movement supplied by Blancpain (it remains exclusive to Harry Winston of course). With the Swatch Group acquisition of Harry Winston, it is quite natural to take advantage of the available resources and Blancpain will provide more movements for Harry Winston.

Inside this Project Z8 beats the Harry Winston HW 3502 movement based on the Blancpain self-winding 1150 base calibre. Comprised of 281 components, this dual time movement (a favourite of Harry Winston) features a flat silicon balance spring with a Philips terminal curve and a newly designed white gold oscillating weight. The different functions of this outstanding watch are best explained while describing the dial, though.

At 1 o’clock, the “Home Time” is indicated on a galvanic black chapter ring with black circular finish, seven superimposed hour marker appliqués and a beautiful openwork grid centre. The sword-shaped hands are filled with SuperLuminova of the same blue as the three screws and the day-night indicator positioned on the chapter ring between 4 and 6 o’clock. Just below this “Home Time”, on the left-hand side of its 6 o’clock position, the brand included a Shuriken: the Project Z’s signature movement operating indicator.

The rest of the indications are displayed in a semi-circular zone spanning from 11 to 4 o’clock. On the periphery, one finds the “Local time” indication through a retrograde anodised aluminium red-tipped hand that sweeps along a black 12-hour scale with red Arabic numerals. An interesting characteristic of this retrograde hand is that unlike competing models, it can be adjusted in both directions: a real technical feat but also a very useful feature.

Between this second time zone indication and the central disc with a beautiful inverted radiating “Clou de Paris” decoration, lies the date indication: a blue pointer at 5 o’clock shows the correct date on the date ring that can be observed through a sand-blasted galvanic black openwork zone.

This exceptional watch comes with a black rubber strap embossed with a “Clou de Paris” motif and secured by a Zalium pin buckle. The watch is water resistant to 100 meters and issued in a limited run of 300 pieces. It is an absolute beauty on the wrist and my favourite model of the “Project Z” series with the Project Z6 blue edition released in 2013. But I have kept the best part for the end: whereas all the previous “Project Z” models retailed for US$40,000 or so, the Project Z8 only costs US$20,300! Considering the complexity and origin of the movement, the beauty and uniqueness of the design and the care of the overall finish, this is a real bargain.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures:

Additional timepiece mentioned in this article: