Hubert Burda Media

The draw to meteorite in watches

More than just stray rocks from outer space, meteorite has long been prized by watchmakers for its novelty and textured appearance.

Whether depicted as a threat to mankind’s earthly existence or romanticised as a shooting star to wish upon, meteorites have long been a source of fascination in popular culture. Its otherworldly origins, coupled with its rarity, lends to its mystery and allure — making it as much a topic of general interest and a sought-after material for decorative use. Over the years, meteorites have been used in ornamentation running the gamut from objets d’art to wearable accessories, such as jewellery and timepieces.

While it’s hard to determine exactly which watch manufacture pioneered the use of meteorite as a form of embellishment in its dials, it is safe to say that this exotic material has been present in the world of haute horlogerie for over three decades. Among the earliest brands to make use of such cosmic rock fragments is Swiss watchmaker Corum, which featured meteorite in its watches from as early as 1986. The first of its creations featured a face crafted from both the Toluca meteorite (which was found in Mexico) and the Devil’s Canyon meteorite (that landed in Arizona), within an 18k white gold case.

However, it was not until later in the 2000s that watches with meteorite dials began making an impact on audiences. This trend was arguably popularised by the 2004 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Meteorite, which showcased a face made entirely from the well-documented Gibeon meteorite and remains a highly coveted collector’s piece to this date. Of the iron variety, the Gibeon meteorite contains significant quantities of nickel, cobalt and phosphorous, and was first discovered in Namibia by Scottish explorer JE Alexander in 1836.

In the last decade — particularly the last couple of years — many more watchmakers have taken to incorporating fragments from other meteorites in its horological creations. In 2015 alone, Parmigiani Fleurier introduced it on the dial of its Tonda 1950 Special Edition Meteorite; Zenith presented the Muonionalusta asteroid (found in a region located 140km from the Arctic Circle, in between Sweden and Finland) in its Pilot Type 20 Hommage à Louis Blériot watch; and Jaeger-LeCoultre gave its Master Calendar timepiece the meteorite treatment, using fragments of a meteorite discovered and officially registered in Sweden.

This year, the trend continues with the Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon from French Maison Cartier getting a meteorite dial edition; De Bethune’s unique version of its Dream Watch with a chassis crafted entirely from a meteorite fragment that fell 4,000 years ago in Campo del Cielo, Argentina; Omega’s Speedmaster Grey Side Of The Moon “Meteorite” watch, which includes slivers of the Gibeon meteorite; and Louis Moinet’s double tourbillon Sideralis featuring debris from three different meteorites (the Jiddat al Harasis 479, which originated from Mars and was found in Oman; the Sahara 99555 that landed in the Sahara in 1999; and the lunar meteorite Dhofar 459, also found in Oman). In addition, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced the option of a meteorite dial under its Atelier Reverso customisation service.

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