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When it comes to the watch face, many high-end watchmakers draw upon elaborate, imaginative designs to make a point or cast a spell. A smaller group of brands goes the opposite route, dispensing with a dial altogether to reveal the intricate mechanics that usually operate in the dark.

In an extraordinary tribute to its iconic El Primero movement, Zenith has introduced the Chronomaster El Primero “Full Open,” which displays the hyper-precise chronograph movement. Beating at 36,000 vibrations per hour, the El Primero can display time to the tenth of a second, and this is the first time since its début in 1969 that its wearer can admire it in its entirety (previous models have been closed or partially open). Blending vintage design codes and modern transparency trends, this “Full Open” model enjoys the best of both worlds.

luxury Breguet Tradition Dame 7038br_18_9v6_d00d_face Breguet Tradition Dame Photo: Modern Luxury

Ever the picture of elegance and sophistication, Patek Philippe draws back the veil with its Ref. 5180, aka the Calatrava “Squelette.” Minimalist to its core—literally—this ultra-thin model carves away any bit of material not absolutely necessary to the functioning of the watch, with additional engraving just to keep things interesting (more than 130 hours’ worth of work). The movement, case and bracelet are all crafted in 18K rose gold, lending the timepiece a complex, layered warmth.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Chopard Manufacture, the brand is releasing the L.U.C Full Strike, in 18K Fairmined rose gold. Chopard’s first minute repeater, this sleek timepiece not only sounds the hours, quarters and minutes, but it looks good doing so, opening a window onto a movement that took almost 15,000 person-hours to develop and perfect (earning three patents in the process!). A power reserve indicator at 2 o’clock makes the watch’s workings transparent in more way than one.

luxury Chopard L.U.C. Full Strike Chopard L.U.C. Full Strike Photo: Modern Luxury

Breguet proves that women’s watches deserve more than just a pretty face with the Tradition Dame 7038. Off-centered hours and minutes tick by at 12 o’clock, leaving the remaining three quarters of the dial free to display the hypnotic workings of the caliber. Feminine touches such as a row of brilliant-cut diamonds in the bezel and a hand-engraved rosette on the barrel stake a claim to the traditionally masculine world of mechanical horology, insisting that decorative grace notes and miniature mechanics are a natural fit.