Picking up Stern’s criticism that this watch offends the sensibilities of hundreds of years of Swiss watchmaking handcraft, you might ask what you can find in the space of “finely made Swiss watches” at the $15,000 level. If you’re interested in gold, conservatively sized dress watches, you can find a variety of watches from Stern’s own brand on the second hand market at this price point, but you’ve got a ways to go before you can get into anything complicated. That said, if you jump ship to another brand in the Holy Trinity, you’ll likely be able to snag early 2000s examples of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph for what the TAG would cost at retail. No tourbillons, obviously, but you do get an integrated bracelet sports watch in a 40mm case with a big date in a distinctive and wearable design.
The jumping hours complication isn’t for everyone. If you’re used to telling the time with a traditional handset, there may never be a time when a watch with a jumping hours complication doesn’t look jarring, regardless of how intuitive it is to read the time. Unlike almost every other complication we can think of, there’s never been a true renaissance for the jumping hours in recent contemporary watchmaking, so these watches are quite uncommon.
While it doesn’t appear to be part of their current collection, Oris made a striking jump hour dress watch as part of their Artelier line. Zach W. reviewed it here back in 2015, and as you can plainly see from the photos, it’s not only a jumping hour, but also something of a regulator, with subdials for minutes and seconds separated on the dial. Combined with the digital hour readout at the top of the dial, this is a truly unique layout, and the dial has a lot of rewarding detail in the contrasting guilloche patterns throughout.
The Cartier Tank a Guichets is not only one of the coolest jumping hour watches ever made, it’s also among the greatest under-appreciated Tanks. The Tank a Guichets was first produced in the late 1920s, and features a completely digital readout of the time, with a single small window for the hours at the top, and slightly larger aperture near the bottom for the minutes, which advances on a track. This watch doesn’t have a traditional dial – the case metal envelopes everything but the apertures that give you the time. It’s an extremely minimalist take on the classic Tank shape.
These watches are extremely rare. They’ve only been reissued a few times, and always in small runs and precious metals. A small run of six watches (yes, six) was produced in 1996, and another small run in platinum followed the next year in honor of Cartier’s 150th anniversary. The year 2005 saw a 150 piece limited edition in pink gold. And, as far as we know, that’s it. This is a watch that’s never been mass produced, and it has always been a connoisseur’s pick. With so few on the market, pricing is hard to track, but Christie’s did sell one in platinum that was part of the 1997 run for CHF 40,000 in 2019. Given the extreme rarity of the Tank a Guichet, that doesn’t seem like an exorbitant sum, but it does underline the immense value of the Oris Artelier Jumping Hour, which sold for $4,600.