The Coolest Watches I’ve Seen During My Time At Watchonista

The Coolest Watches I’ve Seen During My Time At Watchonista

When you are part of such a great team, you get to meet wonderful people, live unforgettable experiences, but most importantly, the chance to see out of this world timepieces.

By Viviana Shanks

This article is unlike many others, and hopefully, as you read these lines, you'll hear my voice, with my strange hard to define accent. After all, I have spent over 12 years in the watch industry, going from a renowned watch manufacture in Switzerland to a popular watch media (Watchonista). I can say I have seen a lot of unique watches but still have so much to learn and discover.

I don't usually like to brag or flaunt my experiences, but honestly, these were probably the best 12 years of my life. Not only have I learned my trade and how the watch world worksbut I've had experiences that my ten-year-old self could only have dreamed about. After all, I have been lucky enough to rub shoulders with Brad Pitt at a Breitling Summit and got hugged by Thor (Chris Hemsworth, that is). Trust me; if you had told ten-year-old Vivi about these experiences, she would have laughed in your face.

The more I think about it, the harder it is to pinpoint my favorite experience with a brand or our retail partners. True, I fearlessly took the opportunity to fly in a helicopter above New York City with the door off while wearing high heels for the sake of a photoshoot. Yet, it still doesn't feel like the cherry on top of the cake.

If you know me, you know my passion for watches started early, and from all the experiences I've lived through, seeing and experiencing amazing timepieces has been my favorite. It's the hundreds of hours of work, the research, and the craftsmanship that goes into making them that makes my pulse quicken. Seeing the finished product, often before the entire world, makes me feel some kind of special. And there were many times I had to resist spending my hard-earned money on these beautiful wonders.

Ulysse Nardin BLAST

For this job, sometimes you have to be fearless. And that's what we were with Rudy Albers, President of WEMPE US, on a warm fall afternoon when we climbed aboard a FlyNYON helicopter to tour the skies over Manhattan. Why would we do this, you may ask? We wanted to celebrate WEMPE Fifth Avenue's 40th anniversary with a BANG! And what was on my wrist for this adventure? I was lucky enough to wear a piece I had written about earlier in the year, the newest Ulysse Nardin BLAST

The Ulysse Nardin BLAST is ready to endure the most challenging situations, and what better way to test drive such a timepiece than in a doors-off helicopter? While flying over the iconic Manhattan skyline, the intrepid WEMPE team and I put all our fears aside and dangled our feet out to get the best content we could. My favorite photo? The one of the Ulysse Nardin BLAST over the Brooklyn Bridge. And yes, the Ulysse Nardin BLAST was perfectly at ease in the skies with only a harness holding its wearer. 

IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Boutique Edition

Sophisticated design and beautiful horology have to be celebrated. And when I visited the IWC Boutique last year to discover the brand’s 2020 novelties, the Schaffhausen-based brand had refreshed its Portuguieser line with a more youthful look and a well-deserved in-house movement. While I was in love with the look and feel of the line, one of their novelties inevitably caught my eye: the IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Boutique Edition.

This timepiece perfectly embodied what IWC is capable of and more. The blue dial paired gracefully with the 18K Armor Gold case and matching indices. At 6 o'clock, the minute tourbillion is mesmerizing. But the retrograde date at 9 o'clock was, for me, the cherry on top of the cake. Although I saw it over a year ago, I cannot forget how beautifully executed the IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Boutique Edition is.

Marilyn Monroe's Blancpain Watch

While this is a petite, bejeweled watch, it is also perhaps the most historical and mystery-filled timepiece that I have been lucky enough to handle. Small and elegant, this piece of horological jewelry with a mechanical heart was once on the wrist of a style icon.

The story of how Marilyn came into possession of this art deco wonder is quite mysterious. And though we came up with some theories of our own, I wish we could travel back in time and spend some time with the blonde bombshell herself to learn the truth. Maybe if Elon Musk funds the creation of a time machine we could, but until then, we can only speculate!

Omega Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional

It's no secret that I always keep Omega close to my heart. While the Omega Speedmaster is exceptional and full of history, we keep forgetting that Omega has created other incredible and ingenious pieces. Like, for instance, the Omega Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional, a watch that went to the deepest part of Earth’s oceans.

It also reminds us that Omega reaches for both the moon and the unknown depths of the ocean. Being my third ever article for Watchonista, I'm still in awe of this timepiece.

The Best of Both Worlds

Let's face it, as a watch journalist and avid collector, I have seen countless timepieces, and I could list many brands that captivated my heart, such as MB&F, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, just to name a scant few. But while the majority of my work at Watchonista was watch-related, thanks to Watchonista Creative Studios, I was lucky enough to play with unique jewelry pieces from our retail partners like Reis-Nichols, A l’Emeraude, and MAYORS.

With these projects, I was able to work with our fantastic content team that proves time and again their prodigious skills at making watches look great also apply to jewelry. From holiday photoshoots with rare colored gems to high jewelry events with unique custom pieces, I learned more about the craftsmanship behind such beauty and saw the similarities between the two industries. Working with our team of photographers, we were able to highlight each creation elegantly and luxuriously.

Final Thoughts 

Though I bid farewell to Watchonista, I am excited about my future endeavors (hint, it's at a watch brand). More than that, I'm happy that I will be using my knowledge and experience to contribute to the brand's growth, something I have always wanted to do. And while no one can predict the future, I am sure you will still hear from me. I will miss the fantastic team at Watchonista – which has been like a second family for me – and I will miss writing articles and interacting with our wonderful readers.

But at the end of the day, I am a Portuguese-born, Swiss-raised woman living, working, and making her home in the United States, hoping to make her parents – who expected her to be a housewife – incredibly proud.

(Photography by Watchonista)

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