A regular watch uses small, complex systems to enable people to tell time. The Harry Winston Opus Eleven is far more intricate.

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If you ask someone for the time and his answer is "Wow!" it's just possible he's wearing a Harry Winston Opus Eleven watch. This remarkable timepiece is one of the most ingenious, playful, and innovative wristwatches ever made. Of course, that distinction comes with a price: This cool watch sells for a cool $230,000.

The Opus Eleven is an example of a modern collectible watch. It's handmade and runs on a movement that is completely mechanical -- no motors or batteries. It's a piece of superb craftsmanship and a stunning example of sophisticated design. The complex mechanism is a source of continual amazement.

Harry Winston, Inc., one of the world's leading jewelers, introduced the Opus Eleven as a limited edition watch in 2011. Only 111 watches were made and each required four to five weeks to assemble [source: Giguet].

Opus Eleven's creator, Denis Giguet, spent 18 months designing a watch "to explode the time" [source: Giguet]. He wanted the numeral indicating the hour to fly apart in three dimensions -- not an easy feat to pull off inside the confines of a wristwatch. His watch created a sensation when it was introduced at Baselworld, the annual Swiss watch and jewelry show.

The Opus Eleven has three parts:

  • The hour is shown as an Arabic numeral beneath a raised, sapphire crystal dome. A complex, exposed mechanism assembles the number from separate placards.
  • The minutes are indicated on two disks visible in a cylinder that projects from the side of the main case.
  • The balance wheel can be seen in a second cylinder below and to the side of the first, marking time with its rhythmic swing.

If a watch makes a statement about its owner, the Opus Eleven shouts. The white gold case is big and flashy, measuring 2 by 1.75 inches (54 by 43 millimeters), and it's fully three-quarters of an inch (19.5 millimeters) thick. The back is transparent, revealing part of the movement. If your yacht sinks, the watch is waterproof down to 30 meters (98 feet) [source: Haute Horologie]. A black alligator-leather strap with gold buckle holds this sizeable watch on your wrist.

It's not surprising that such a watch would come from Harry Winston. Especially when you consider the company's innovative line of timepieces.