As with any accessory, a watch is an expression of individual personality. While collectors have a variety of reasons for purchasing a timepiece, typically, collectors identify with a brand, model, or lifestyle, drawing them to a particular watch over another. One excellent way to express this individuality is through limited editions. A limited piece takes that unique collector/ timepiece pairing, and elevates it to an even more intimate level. While limited editions can range from a couple pieces to a couple thousand, for the purpose of this exercise, we are going to highlight 10 truly rare limited editions to show just how creative and exciting these special references can get. Each of these is part of a run of no more than 100 examples total.
The Patek Philippe Weir and Sons 5905P-014
Limited to 25 pieces in platinum, the Patek Philippe Weir and Sons reference 5905P-014 was released in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the historic Weir and Sons retailer in Ireland. The special edition features a Kelly green dial and strap, alongside a unique display case made specifically for the limited edition. It is quite uncommon for Patek Philippe to limit watches like this, making this annual calendar flyback chronograph an extreme rarity not only in number, but also in concept.
L.U.C Chopard Skull One
Produced in only 8 examples, the Chopard Skull One was introduced in 2021 as a tribute to the Dia de los Muertos (day of the dead), an ancient Mexican holiday that remains in celebration to this day. The purpose of the piece was to convey the fragility of life through horology. This watch is truly an expression of one’s personality, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever find anyone else wearing it! The dial of this piece has a “Calavera” skull with a curved mustache signed “L.U Chopard”. While it’s not for everyone, the Skull One isn’t trying to be; it only needs 8 passionate lovers!
Lange 20th Anniversary Set Lange 1
Limited to 20 sets, the 20th Anniversary Lange 1 his and hers pairing was launched in commemoration of 20 years of the Lange 1. This exciting edition features two white gold Lange 1s with blue guilloché dials. The lady’s piece has a diamond set bezel which brings a more effeminate quality to the beautiful design. These watches are quite special on their own, but the limited edition only sweetens the deal.
F.P. Journe Chronomètre Holland & Holland
This is a special limited edition in that it was limited by necessity rather than choice. This piece was the result of a partnership between gun maker Holland and Holland and F.P. Journe. The dials of these pieces were made from the barrels of 2 guns from the 1800s. Only 66 dials were able to be extracted from the Damascus steel barrels, thus only 66 examples were eventually made. This piece is made from steel, a rarity from F.P. Journe, and would make for the perfect everyday dress piece with an interesting story.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin for Italy
Limited to 50 pieces for the Italian market, this AP Royal Oak has to be one of the rarest ever produced. The set comes with not one but two dials, one green and one blue, that can interchangeably be placed in the piece. Part of the ultra thin Jumbo class of Royal Oak, this version has distinctive hour markers that help to distinguish it from the classic Royal Oak collection. There are many Royal Oak (and Offshore) limited editions, yet few approach this level of limited. Many are produced in the hundreds or low thousands.
Urwerk UR-100V T-Rex
An undeniably funky timepiece, Urwerk’s UR-100V T-Rex was limited to only 22 pieces. The case of the wandering hours and minutes timepiece is made from PVD bronzed titanium, and has an engraved texture that gives off strong tactical vibes. The hands of this piece also display the distance the Earth has traveled in its orbit, an interesting complication. While you shouldn’t wear this to a black tie event, it feels like it would be right at home at a Star Wars enthusiast’s gathering.
Lange Tourbograph “Pour Le Mérite” 712.050
One of 50 in the world, the Tourbograph “Pour Le Merite” 712.050 debuted in 2010 in Lange’s proprietary Honeygold. This piece became the first to implement the material. The incredible timepiece features a tourbillon, fusee and chain system, and split-seconds chronograph. This watch could not be more diametrically opposed to the Urwerk featured previously. A guilloché dial center is cut off by the tourbillon aperture at 6 o’clock. Watches like these help to explain why Lange is held in as high a regard as they are.
F.P. Journe Chronomètre Souverain Dubai Edition
Every F.P. Journe watch is a rarity. Arguably the entire brand is a big limited edition. That said, the Dubai Edition Chronometre Souverain has become a highly sought after piece in particular due to its unique dial color and simple aesthetics. The special production was limited to 99 pieces in platinum. These pieces were exclusively handed to the Dubai market for purchase, and were not made available to the public until they inevitably reached the secondary market. Journe collectors know this piece and are always on a hunt for one of the 99.
JLC Grande Reverso “Tribute to 1931” London Flagship
The JLC Grande Reverso “Tribute to 1931” Flagship was launched in 2015 to celebrate the opening of the Old Bond Street JLC boutique in London. The special edition was limited to 26 examples with a unique off-turquoise dial color scheme. While the piece is largely true to early Reverso styling, this edition is slightly scaled up in size to meet the needs of modern collectors. The piece feels just vintage inspired enough to respect the design while still feeling current.
Grand Seiko SBGA065 Spring Drive 50th Anniversary
Grand Seiko as a brand has become quite popular for its limited editions. This example, the SBGA065 presented in 2010 in honor of the 50th anniversary of Grand Seiko showcases several of the brand’s most monumental contributions to the watch space. A textured dial, signature handset, and spring drive movement, in particular, help make this watch quintessentially Grand Seiko. If you could only buy one Grand Seiko that would epitomize the brand ideology within a special edition, this would be a great choice.