Watchismo Times | category: complication


Watchismo Times

THE WATCHISMO TIMES WATCH BLOG A reliquary of obscure timepieces from bygone eras as well as the cutting-edge watch designs of today.

Gerald Genta Arena Metasonic - Limited Edition of Ten at $900,000 Each!

Gerald Genta Arena Metasonic - Limited Edition of Ten at $900,000 Each!
Limited Edition of 10 Pieces (MSRP (US$900,000 ea)

An alliance of tradition and engineering for the ultimate Grande Sonnerie, the most complicated of its kind in the world for over 15 years

The latest evolution of the Arena Grande Sonnerie, the Arena Metasonic raises the exclusive work of Gérald Genta to the realm of perfection. Launched as a wristwatch in 1994 and regularly improved ever since, the noble proprietary complication that was already considered beyond compare further enhances its pedigree by appearing in a revolutionary new case. An original material and unprecedented construction combine to ensure an enchanting chime, embodying progress stemming from in-depth acoustic and vibratory research that simultaneously overturns certain preconceived ideas.

Gerald Genta Arena Metasonic - Limited Edition of Ten at $900,000 Each!Striking watches
Striking watches are classified into quarter, five-minute and most frequently minute repeater models, and Grande Sonnerie or “grand strike” variations can be triggered up to 35,040 times a year. They strike the hours and quarters automatically or “in passing”, as well as being systematically equipped with the minute repeater which strikes the hours, quarters and minutes on request. The watch then successively chimes the hours on a low-pitched gong, the quarters on two, three or four gongs, and the minutes on a high-pitched gong. Grande Sonnerie watches are a long-established speciality at Gérald Genta. It has introduced a number of exceptionally complex wristwatch models since 1994. With their four hammers and their Westminster chime playing a different tune for each quarter, they represent 15 years of peerless accomplishments and are all the more remarkable in that they are developed on tourbillon movements. The Grande Sonnerie models comprise approximately 850 parts for the hand-wound models, 950 for the self-winding versions, and 1,100 for those equipped with a perpetual calendar. It takes around a year’s work to craft just one such watch, and only 61 in all have emerged from the Gérald Genta workshops since 1994. Connoisseurs, and especially master-watchmakers, unanimously confirm that it is not the accumulation of functions that makes a watch complicated, but instead the intrinsic complexity of the movement to be assembled and cased up.

Gerald Genta Arena Metasonic - Limited Edition of Ten at $900,000 Each!Traditional movements
While Gérald Genta is a brand famed for its daring approach to watch exteriors, it is nonetheless extremely respectful of traditional horology, as is confirmed by the superlative workmanship displayed in its authentic Haute Horlogerie movements featuring a wealth of hand-crafted decoration and finishing. Among them are striking watches, which can be viewed as the last bastion of pure watchmaking artistry. Whereas virtually any other movements can now be industrially made and thus identically reproduced according to predefined criteria, a striking mechanism necessarily calls for manual intervention. The watchmaker adjusts the length of the gongs or their point of attachment in order to achieve the desired notes. This delicate exercise is generally performed by ear, with the inherent risk of never achieving the same result twice, even when the same person is involved. Gérald Genta therefore decided to solve this particular problem and its striking watches have now been effectively standardised to measurable norms for the past four years.

Standardised striking watches
Based on research conducted in cooperation with an acoustic laboratory, Gérald Genta has an exclusive software programme enabling it to measure the sounds produced in particular by its Grande Sonnerie watches. Three main criteria have been established. First of all, the intensity or the force of the notes: to earn approval, they must demonstrate a level of intensity sufficient to ensure they are clearly audible, but not excessively high in order to preserve their harmonic quality. The harmony or the correct pitch of the notes is then checked to ensure a sol (G) is consistently sounded for the hours, do, re, mi and sol (C,D,E and G) for the various combinations of quarters – more specifically mi-re-do-sol (E-D-C-G), re-sol-mi-do (D-G-E-C) + mi-re-do-sol (E-D-C-G), mi-do-re-sol (E-C-D-G) + re-sol-mi-do (D-G-E-C) + mi-re-do-sol (E-D-C-G) – and re (D) for the minutes. All are the notes are within the fifth and sixth octaves, ensuring they are low enough to be truly melodious. Finally, the cadence or regularity in milliseconds is verified according to defined intervals between each hour (628 ms), each quarter (427 ms) and each minute (509 ms). The goal is to ensure an harmonious sequence with clearly perceptible sounds. Thanks to these measurements, each completely independent of the others, Gérald Genta Grande Sonnerie models are now all of reliable equal quality. Fine-tuning by the watchmakers is still indispensable, but now converges towards common criteria guaranteeing a unique tune. It takes an average of 12 successive controls to achieve the desired result.

Gerald Genta Arena Metasonic - Limited Edition of Ten at $900,000 Each!Superior quality
Each Grande Sonnerie watch reacts in its own way, according to the volume occupied by the movement within the case and the corresponding empty spaces; the materials selected and their treatment; the strength of the hammer; as well as a whole host of details such as the quality of the screws, joints and weldings. All these aspects have been meticulously reviewed by Gérald Genta in order to achieve the current degree of perfection based on these trade secrets which it is determined to safeguard. Nonetheless, one feature that can be revealed is that the gongs are now fixed to the side of the case and no longer to the movement, thereby considerably increasing the sound level. The improvements have been made both to the self-winding Grande Sonnerie model belonging to the Octo collection since 2003, and to the hand-wound Grande Sonnerie, an Arena watch introduced in 1999 and bearing the prestigious Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark. The latter is distinguished by its movement beautifully highlighting the striking mechanism through a broad dial opening on the left of the off-set hour and minute display. The back enables one to admire the tourbillon and follow the evolution of the two separate power reserves – 48 hours for the movement, 24 hours for the striking mechanism. A security system locks the crown each time the watch is in the process of chiming, so as to avoid accidentally damaging the striking mechanism.

The key assets of the Arena Metasonic
Having reached the peak of its art in mastering its Grande Sonnerie mechanism, Gérald Genta wished to provide it with a tailor-made case specifically developed to exalt its musicality. To achieve this, it cooperated with a French university in developing a software programme capable of analysing all kinds of materials. Gérald Genta has thereby created a testing system that evaluates a given material’s density, elasticity modulus and loss coefficient, a set of crucial physical parameters that determine the quality of the sound transmission and must be as low as possible.

Material Density(g/cm3) Elastic modulus (GPa) Loss coefficient 100 Index Acoustic Pressure (Force) 100 Index Acoustic Pressure (Melody)
Magsonic® 2.7 71 0.000080 100.0 100.0
Titanium 4.2 110 0.000027 77.6 44.7
Bronze CuSn8 8.2 100 0.000125 63.8 24.8
White gold alloy 15.7 107 0.000100 48.4 35.1
316L steel 8 200 0.000350 37.6 33.1

The first parameter that must be taken into account is density, which must be lower than 5 g/cm3. Among the metals most commonly used in watchmaking, only titanium meets this standard. It is only half as dense as steel, which itself is only half as dense as white gold. In terms of elastic modulus, which is considered to be of superior quality when nearing values below 100 GPa (gigapascals), white gold and titanium come very close to this threshold, whereas the values reached by steel are twice as high. As for the sound transmission loss coefficient, it is precisely measured in laboratory conditions – using calibrated bars that are made to vibrate by laser technology in a vacuum, thus ensuring the absence of any contact as well as free decay of the vibrations - and falls well below the maximum desirable level of 0.0002 as far as white gold and titanium are concerned, but not for steel. Results clearly prove that titanium and gold perform far better than steel, which is not particularly dense but is definitely more sound-absorbing than any other material (high loss coefficient).

Based on the objectives defined for each parameter, Gérald Genta decided to target excellence by creating an alloy of which the composition will remain a closely guarded secret. Duly patented under the name Magsonic®, it displays winning performances with a density of 2.7 g/cm3, an elastic modulus of 71 Gpa and a sound transmission loss coefficient of 0.00008 – meaning respectively 50%, 30% and 60% better than the parameters that were set as objectives. This material is therefore used for the case middle of the brand’s latest Grande Sonnerie model, the Arena Metasonic. The case middle is a crucial element in striking watches, since the sound tends to be diffused in a sideways direction. It is important to choose an appropriate material and to make it as thin as possible. Future owners will be delighted to note that the quality of the sound is even better when the watch is worn, a position in which its back rests against the wrist.

Moreover, Gérald Genta was able to measure the sound intensity (acoustic pressure index, force and melody) produced by various materials by using specific experimental containers. Results show that Magsonic once again surpassed the others, both in force (global sound intensity) and melody (effective intensity of the desired notes: do, re, mi and sol – C, D, E and G).

In addition to the major role played by the Magsonic alloy, this new model also features an original case based on a patented construction inspired by the side drums in a drum kit. The case middle is framed on either side by a bezel and back in grade 5 titanium secured from outside by means of specially designed pillars. This means the sound diffusion is undisturbed by any screws, and results in a highly original creation entirely in tune with the spectacular design characteristic of Gérald Genta models. The entire construction has also been rendered water resistant, because contrary to popular belief, non- watertight watches do not emit a better sound. The latter can even be perturbed by being forced through the bottlenecks created by the passage of air around the winding pushers. Some historical pocket-watches solved the problem by featuring openings spread all around them – a solution naturally unsuitable for wristwatches. The innovations presented here by Gérald Genta are a contemporary response to a desire to raise the bar as never before. They are the first fruits of a particularly ambitious research and development programme, and all-new striking mechanism designs are likely to be introduced in the near future.

A deliberately contemporary style
Measuring 46mm in diameter at the case middle and 50mm overall, the Arena Metasonic features a combination of vertical-polished and horizontal satin-brushed surfaces. It is fitted with an ostrich leather strap. The crown bears the individual watch number, while the striking mechanism controls serving to switch between Grande Sonnerie (grand strike), Petite Sonnerie (small strike), Minute Repeater and Silence modes are within easy reach on the opposite side. Gérald Genta has adorned the movement with an innovative wave-patterned motif as a nod to the propagation of sound. The jewels are in white sapphire to ensure an ideal visual match with the overall mechanism which exceptionally does not feature the “old gold” surface treatment characteristic of the brand’s signature “Potter finish”. This exceptional watch is also presented in a glass security box which renders it invisible until the owner pushes the biometrically programmed button that will respond to no other touch… The interior then lights up and the watch base is raised to bring it within reach. True magic for a watch blending the best of noble traditions and cutting-edge technologies.

Gerald Genta Website

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 55 - The Most Complicated Trilogy of Watches Ever Produced!

Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 55 - The Most Complicated Trilogy of Watches Ever Produced!Days ago at the Venice Film Festival, Jaeger LeCoultre presented (in a custom 2600 pound German Doettling vault shown above) by JL CEO Jérôme Lambert, the most complicated watches ever produced, the Hybris Mechanica 55 Trilogy.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 55 - The Most Complicated Trilogy of Watches Ever Produced!via Perpetuelle

Regular readers of Perpetuelle Blog may recall that back in June First In Watches gave you the first look at the Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie – a piece deemed at the time as the new “King of Complications” for its tally of 26 functions and 1300 components in one – yes one – single watch (if you missed this article go check it out now!). At this time we previewed not only the Grand Sonnerie but also the 2 other grand complications (the Gyrotourbillon and the Reverso a Tryptique that Jaeger-LeCoultre would be offering as a part of a 3-piece, $2.5 million set, complete with a 2,600 pound German-made Doettling safe (which by the way has a special sound system installed that enables the actual chiming of the Grand Sonnerie to be heard outside the safe even when it is securely locked!). The set was created in part to showcase Jaeger-LeCoultre’s greatest achievements over the brand’s long history.

At the time of our original article it was not clear to us what the significance of the number “55″ in “Hybris Mechanica 55″ was – but now we know. 55 is the total number of complications represented in this incredible trio of watches.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 55 - The Most Complicated Trilogy of Watches Ever Produced!The Grande Sonnerie Movement

Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 55 - The Most Complicated Trilogy of Watches Ever Produced!

Now, as for those “26″ complications in the Grand Sonnerie (the left-most watch in the above photo)- we have seen Jaeger-LeCoulter’s official listing, which we present to you here:

1. Westminster Carillon

2. 4 crystal-gongs

3. Grande sonnerie

4. Petit sonnerie

5. Silence

6. Minute repeater

7. and 8. Flying tourbillon

9. and 10. Perpetual and instant calendar

11. Days

12. Retrograde days

13. Months

14. Retrograde months

15. Date

16. Retrograde date

17. Jumping hour and minutes

18. Regulation device with inertia-blocks

19. Strike power reserve indicator

20. Watch power reserve indicator

21. Secured incremental hours setting

22. and 23. Secured incremental minutes setting forward and backward

24. Striking mode selector

25. Instant minute repeater activation

26. Automatic modes’ switch

With such an amazing set of watches, there is so much to say, so little time to say it – but thankfully Jaeger-LeCoultre created a really cool website dedicated to the Hybris Mechanica 55 trio that says a lot already! The site is full of close up photos and explanations of the various components of thewatches, in particular the Grand Sonnerie – and so I highly recommend you check out it out by clicking here: Jaeger LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Trilogy Website

Perpetuelle First in Watches

Related Posts at The Watchismo Times;
All Jaeger LeCoultre Stories

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UnBNBelievable - BNB & The Confrérie Horlogère and the Only Watch 2009 Release

By Alex Doak for The Watchismo Times

By now, many are aware of BNB Concept and their work – after all, it was only a matter of time before people started to wonder where the likes of Romain Jerome, De Witt, Hublot, Concord, Jacob & Co. and Bell & Ross acquired their blisteringly innovative tourbillons all of a sudden. Jorg Hysek’s HD3 visionaries were the only ones to freely admit the origins of their gothic-tech complications from the start, but once people started spotting BNB’s trademark spiral-spoked escape wheel all over the place, the cat was out of the bag. Once was a time when people were reluctant to reveal the minds behind their rent-a-calibres – now everyone's falling over themselves to get a piece of the BNB action and the instant provenance it brings. As BNB attests:

“BNB wishes not to become a new watch brand, but rather a label of quality. Should BNB create its own brand, it would inevitably become a competitor to its customers.”

Unlike Renaud & Papi's selective austerity or Christophe Claret's mercenary dictatorship, BNB is a genuinely cool, relaxed community of eager young things with genuinely new ideas about how watches should work – with no less than five facilities in Duillier, Crans-près-Céligny, La Vallée de Joux, La Chaux-de-Fonds and Nyon at their disposal, all crammed full of the latest tools, CNC machines, electroplating and engraving machines, and rank-upon-rank of sterile assembly lines. What’s doubly impressive about BNB is that they make complete WATCHES for their 25-or-so clients – not just the multi-plane/dual-axis tourbillon movements they’re famous for. For a five-year-old outfit, that’s serious progress.

Members of the Confrérie Horlogere 2008-2009 and Mathias Buttet (CEO and founder BNB Concept ; founder Confrérie Horlogère).

From the left: David Rodriguez, Ranieri Illicher, Clara Bise, Mathias Buttet, Ken Koshiyama, Sabitry Montandon, Gabriel Salgado-de Arce, Brigitte Carneiro.

It was therefore inevitable, despite the abovementioned pledge, that as a fully verticalized entity, BNB would eventually indulge in its own vanity projects – albeit under an alternative banner, "Confrérie Horlogère". (Perhaps reminiscent of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey’s Complitime factory, which bankrolled proceedings before they unleashed their eponymous double tourbillon).

Confrérie Horlogère is a bit Opus, a bit Maitres du Temps, a bit Time Aeon – only the emphasis is on nurturing youngsters with ideas beyond their usual means. And in this first year, no less than seven talents and four almost-complete watches have been put on pedestals by BNB’s effusive CEO Matthias Buttet (one of the "B"s in BNB - the others being Barbasini and Navas, all of them formerly of Franck Muller’s Watchland - Buttet as a micro-technical engineer, Navas and Barbasini as prototypists).

In Buttet’s words:

“The Confrérie Horlogère, far from being a product, is an ambitious project to promote such values as work, creativeness, craftsmanship, community spirit, respect and above all freedom of women and men moved by the will to express themselves through excellence, as well as unexpected design.”

And I’m pleased to report that every one of Buttet’s fresh-faced prodigies have come up with equally amazing movements and watches... It really is quite incredible to see such a tranche of brilliance emerge all at once.

Every year, Confrérie Horlogère will select a maximum of 7 “graduates” to develop their own watch, produced on a very small-scale – no more than 10 pieces each. And unlike many flash-in-the-pan pantomime projects, which run the danger of costing more to fix and service over a lifetime than the watch itself (if indeed you find a capable-enough and willing watchmaker in the first place, once the flash-in-the-pan brand has gone belly-up) the CH timepieces will benefit from a lifetime’s guarantee. Buttet trusts his kids that much.

This year’s 7 “companions” are:

1. David Rodriguez, a Peruvian watchmaker, whose “la Résilience” tourbillon demonstrates sublimely anarchic finishing with Punk overtones that actually reveal through its scars and stitching the difficulties Rodriguez faced as an abused orphan on crutches who, finally, found in Switzerland and watchmaking a refuge. Metaphorically biographical watchmaking – surely a world first?

la Résilience

2. Brigitte Carneiro, watchmaker, with “la Face Cachée”

la Face Cachée

3. Ken Koshiyama, watchmaker, with “Racines japonaises”

4. Ranieri Illicher, watchmaker, whose la Passion à l’italienne micro-brand debuts with the “Bel Canto” minute repeater tourbillon – a chiming watch literally suspended in a bell, which also serves as the watch case – why didn’t anyone think of this before?!

Bel Canto Minute Repeater (thanks to DonCorson

5. Sabitry Montandon, watchmaker

6. Clara Bise, watchmaker

7. Gabriel Salgado de Arce, engraver and chaser of watch components, whose coral reef ImmenSEAty just defies all watch-finishing convention. Words can’t do this justice.


8. An eighth Companion has already been selected for the year 2009- 2010. His name is Jérôme Siegrist, a watchmaker who is already involved in an ambitious project that focuses on recreating and scaling down to wristwatch dimensions an extremely complex mechanism built, anachronistically, two centuries B.C. and salvaged from a shipwreck in 1901. Antikythera will be presented by the end of 2009, but you can get an inkling of what to expect-->here.

The ANTIKYTHERA mechanism wristwatch concept

Beside these individual “Complications” watches, the Companions will all be collaborating on joint Confrerie Horlogère projects, either as small-series “Classiques” or one-off “Masters” pieces. So far, there’s Masters Clef du Temps – an ornately skeletonised vertical tourbillon movement (presumably derived from the one developed for Concord, but as usual completely original and unlike anything seen before) – and Classiques Chronographe Tourbillon Pulsion 1 (I’ve run out of superlatives….)

Le Chronographe Tourbillon « Pulsion »

BNB Factory

BNB Confrérie Horlogère Watchmakers

Confrérie Horlogère for Only Watch 2009

The Master watch

The Confrérie Horlogère’s Only Watch 09 (by BNB Concept) is “La Clef du Temps” (the Key to Time) – a watch created by Buttet in collaboration with the brand’s R&D team. It is the first timepiece created in the “Les Masters” collection. It is a working prototype of a sophisticated timepiece called “La Clef du Temps”, which will be produced in small series after the Only Watch 09 auction. It is an innovative tourbillon watch featuring a hand-wound mechanical movement with hour and minute indications, a 3-day power reserve indication (PRI) in a 120° sectoral indicator at 8 o’clock and retrograde running seconds at 4 o’clock. The retrograde seconds of 0, 30, 60 depict the rhythm of time as it passes, and the power reserve reminds you when to rewind the piece as it makes its 0, ½, and 3-day passage. Like a body, if you don’t eat properly your body doesn’t function properly, and so with the watch if you forget to rewind it.

“The funds from Only Watch are there to indirectly help the children suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” says Buttet. “So I thought: what is it that everyone hopes for? Everyone hopes that these children will live longer than expected. I wanted this watch to express this dilemma.”

Buttet wanted the piece to convey two very important and thought-provoking concepts associated with being a parent: Firstly, the idea that however rich you are, true luxury lies in the freedom to manage one’s time as one wishes; secondly, the watch has a sophisticated mechanism that allows the wearer to “adjust the speed” of his personal time by adjusting a simple three-position lever that alters the running speed of the hours and the minutes.

Position 1 the pace of time slows by half so that the true value of one hour is displayed as a half-hour on the dial.
Position 2 the pace of time stays at true/standard time.
Position 3 the pace of time runs at double speed so a true/standard half-hour becomes a full hour on the dial of the watch.

As Buttet says, “This way, pleasant moments can be made to last twice as long while unpleasant ones can be shortened by half while the ability to ‘return’ to true time is always there.” The watch’s extremely sophisticated mechanism allows the watch’s time indications to remain in positions 1 or 3 as long as its wearer wishes, since a simple turn of the lever to position 2 (the watch’s memory) resets the hour and the minute hand to the real time of day.

As Buttet sees it, it’s his way of extracting some form of balance from a seemingly unjust world that makes us feel that when life is good, time flies, but it slows to a crawl during the rough patches. As with a child with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the pleasure of the good times passes all too fast and the painful moments all too slow.

The movement is shaped like a stylized human brain because, according to Mathias Buttet, “Time is a sort of “state of mind” which is the result of the will of any single person. Not to have time to do something is, at the end, a personal decision and it is not at all something imposed by someone else. Every person decides if he or she wants to have the time to do or not to do something.” Moreover he adds “If you look at the figures on the dial you will see that they are mirror images of themselves. Some numbers are reflected face-to-face, showing the moments that are the result of the one’s will; others are reflected back-to-back: in this case, it is fate that controls your life.”

The futuristic case is shaped like a spaceship – ever searching for a better life, and the strap is composed of four rubber-clad steel strands. Lifetime warranty and the totally Swiss-made provenance of its every part and component are other characteristics of the “La Clef du Temps”.

LINK: Confrérie Horlogère Website
LINK: BNB Concept

All Alex Doak Post for The Watchismo Times

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Helicoidal Timepieces of Philip Lütolf

Helicoidal Timepieces of Philip LütolfThe watch design has yet to be unveiled but Philip Lutolf, has just introduced a powerful new watch movement which uses helicoidal rather than spiral springs for power- thus generating unprecedented torque.

I just hope he'll push the technology to equally unprecidented design and functions. Time will tell...

Helicoidal Timepieces of Philip Lütolf
CAD preview of movement

Helicoidal Timepieces of Philip Lütolf
Lutolf recently wrote to Horomundi;

"I would like to tell you that with this movement we will have a new approach about horological mechanics. With the H-Power movement we talk now for the first time about “power”. The first question which crossed my mind, when I started to think about a new movement in horology was: “why does the watch industry never talk about power?” After some research about the history of movement mechanism, I find out that since 1475, all the movements were based on spiral spring. Why because this spring has a great advantage compared to the other springs: it has a relatively low constant torque. So this means that the spring is ideal to make tic-tac, but not so ideal to power complex mechanism. This is why I use a helicoïdal spring instead. The springs that I use in my prototypes deliver an impressive 10kg. So this watch is not about power reserve (even though it is over average), but about power. What is incredible when I go back through the innovation process of the last 3 years, is that when you are faced with raw power, you have to find logical (the turbo) and technical (Strongnium, bearing wheels) solutions to cope with the laws of physics. This is why this movement became so complex. You can also do an analogy with cars. To make a Ferrari the technical requirements (because of the consequences of the speed at 350 km/h) are far more advanced than a normal Fiat or Opel car. For the H-Power movement it’s the same. And like Pirelli said in it's famous advertising campaign: "whithout control, power is nothing". We are now in a process to finish our prototype phase. We hope to be through until the beginning of next year. This is why; you won’t see any dial or case yet (although the case and the dial is already finished). But if you want to be the first to see it when it is released you can subscribe to my newsletter on my website"

via Horomundi
Philip Lütolf Website

See Also;
All Inventor Related Posts
All Concept Watch Posts

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"Minute Man" by David Colman for The New York Times

From this weekend's New York Times "T" Magazine;


It was one thing when the cellphone replaced the cigarette. But now killer apps have replaced killer abs, and the chicest parties throng with guys showing how they can make their iPhones look like Magic 8 Balls. It’s enough to make a man long for the days when all you heard from even the costliest accessory was the faint tick of a sleek watch.

But these days, the watch thing is also complicated — literally. Watches, like phones, are now viaducts of nonessential information. And the more complications (as extraneous indicators are called in the trade), the rarer and more expensive the timepiece. Moon phases, leap years, multiple time zones, multiple-dial chronographs, depth meters, power reserves. One very cool watch, Meccanico, by de Grisogono, looks like an old-fashioned L.C.D. but is in fact mechanical, made of fluorescent green pieces that move in and out of slots to create those squared-off numbers. In a similar vein, Audemars Piguet has recreated the old-school chronograph with its Royal Oak Carbon Concept. Tricked out with ceramic, titanium and carbon with a special ‘‘linear chronograph,’’ the little time machine looks like something James Bond would use to stop a ‘‘Quantum of Solace.’’ Or, at the very least, maybe it could tell him when to duck to avoid one. It also features the most sublime and silly complication of all: the tourbillon, which is so complicated, almost metacomplicated, that I can’t understand what it really is or does, and have given up trying. If someone who does understand tries to explain it to you, move away quickly or you and your watch can kiss a few hours goodbye.

de Grisogono Meccanico (prev feature->link)

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Carbon Concept
(previous feature->link)

I can tell you this: it was invented at the turn of the 19th century by Abraham-Louis Breguet, one of history’s great watchmakers. In an effort to minimize the effects of gravity and instability on the pocketwatch and keep time more accurately, he devised a rotating cage for the escapement (please don’t ask) and balance wheel (ditto).

No one seems positive, however, that gravity is that big a problem for today’s watches. Even so, the tourbillon remains the last word in superfluous virtuosity, and whatever it does and whether it really uperfluous virtuosity, and whatever it does and whether it really does it or not, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and all the other best names make them, and they all cost as much as taking out a hit on your boss. So choose wisely.

Just to give you the most for your money, watchmakers put extra ingenuity in showing tourbillons whirling and whooshing away. The young and ambitious watch house Greubel Forsey makes, among others, a remarkable Quadruple Tourbillon that resembles a modern version of the Antikythera Mechanism, the ancient clocklike device recovered more than a century ago from an ancient Mediterranean shipwreck. Using X-ray tomography that allows them to peer through the centuries of corrosion and buildup, scientists have discovered that the fabled, mysterious 2,100-year-old thingamajig was able to keep track of, for starters, the four-year cycle of the Olympic Games, the frequency of solar eclipses and the entire Metonic calendar year (which was more like two decades).

Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon
(previous features->link)

Antikythera Mechanism
(previous feature->link)

So complications are nothing new. Lately, though, some watchmakers have forsaken the Old World charm of a 19th-century face for the midcentury masculinity that has made ‘‘Mad Men’’ such a hit. These include Vacheron Constantin’s fully customizable Quai de l’Ile (created by the same man who designed the Swiss bank notes), Girard- Perregaux’s Vintage 1945 Off-Center Hour, Patek Philippe’s newest version of its superthin Grand Complication and the one-handed watch by the ultrastylish Swiss watchmaker Jaquet Droz.

Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile

Girard Perregaux 1945 Off-Center Hour & Minute

Jaquet Droz One-handed Numerus Clausus

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy understands the power of simplicity: the first lady of France made her flashy husband lose the chunky Rolex and gave him a simple, sleek Patek Philippe. It became an instant symbol of his newly understated presidential élan.

Then again, customizable watches like Vacheron Constantin’s choose-your-owncomplications beauty may soon be the 21st century’s most desirable status symbol. But if that’s the case, why can’t it be customized to indicate worthier complications? The size of my carbon footprint? My biceps? My bank balance? The sky-high number of my I.Q., or my discreetly low number of friends on Facebook? Or why not one that keeps track of my calorie intake, my stress level and my dry cleaning? You know, something more like a … wristwife.

But as any potential mate would soon discover, I also come fully loaded with complications.

Original article on The New York Times-->LINK

See also;
All Watch Complication Posts
All Tourbillon Posts

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New Brand - Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps "Sequential 1"

New Brand - Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps  Denis Giguet, former head of production for Harry Winston Rare Timepieces (& Post-Busser Opus) is about to introduce his first watch from the newly formed independent Manufacture Conteporaine du Temps (MCT) -->LINK. Their first watch, "Sequential 1" has a particularly unique feature of rotating panels revealing the hours with triangular segments.

New Brand - Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps  The hours are indicated at four positions on the watch. Each position comprises 5 triangular prisms which rotate clockwise to gently reveal the hour. Critical to the design of the MCT timepiece is the importance of having the numbers 3, 6, 9 and 12 in their correct positions.

The operational sequence of “MCT Sequential 1” is like the points of a compass. At north (the 12 o’clock position), on the relevant hour, the hours 12, 4 or 8 will be displayed. At the West position the numbers 1, 5 ,9 will be revealed, at South 2, 6 and 10 and East the hours 3, 7 and 11 will be displayed. The minute hand and sapphire disc play a very important role. Exactly on the hour the disc is released and rotates in an anti-clockwise direction to reveal the next hour numeral. This instantaneous anti-clockwise rotation of the brushed sapphire disc means that the minute hand is now positioned at zero minutes, ready to begin the next 60 minute journey round the disc.

The architectural design of the watch was entrusted to Geneva based Eric Giroud, a specialist in movement architecture (HWRT, MB&F). Eric has designed a masterpiece of complex simplicity with different elements of the watch turning on 3 axis, at precise times with very distinctive movements. The brushed sapphire minute disc has an opacity which clearly displays the minutes but also allows the wearer to appreciate the delicate rotation of the hour prisms.

I'll be posting a specially made video of the watch in action in the coming weeks, stay tuned!

Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps Website-->LINK

See related;
All Alternative Display Posts
All Independent Watch Posts
All Harry Winston Posts

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A Round-Up of Three Dimensional Tourbillons

by Alex Doak (exclusively for The Watchismo Times)

Definitive List #1: Tourbillons in space, space, pace, ace, ace…!

There nothing quite like a definitive list of stuff to warm the cockles of a straightforward, slightly obsessive bloke such as myself (or “multi-talented bloke” as certain blog proprietors would naïvely have it…). Much like Nick Hornby’s central character in High Fidelity, I find little else more satisfying than pigeonholing the components of my obsession – in this case watches of course, as opposed to pop songs – into their discrete subsets and arranging things appropriately in chronological, alphabetical, autobiographical, or even aesthetical fashion.

So for Definitive List #1, by way of background, let’s kick off proceedings by listing every tourbillon ever made to date…. No, stupid idea. What about bi-axial tourbillons, then? That’s easier – but still long-winded. Why, there’s Thomas Prescher’s Torkel pocket watch; Franck Muller’s Revolution 2; Jean Dunand’s Tourbillon Orbital; Blu’s Majesty Tourbillon; anything by Greubel Forsey; Panerai’s misplaced new entry to the world of manufacture movements, P.2005; the similar ‘tumbling’ cage mechanism at the heart of HD3’s Vulcania; Girard-Perregaux’s huge SIHH 2008 launch, the imaginatively titled “Bi-Axial Tourbillon”… My quasi-OCD tendencies are nagging at me to complete the list, but that’s no fun. As James Gurney noted in QP’s editorial last year, in reference to Michael Balfour’s joyous new “Cult Watches” book, there’s nothing quite like a list to inspire controversy. Tell your readers that the Swiss watch industry is a cynical, PR-fed cartel, and nothing. On the other hand, dare to omit Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Gyrotourbillon from a list of two-axis tourbillons and watch all hell break loose. (See? I didn’t forget it!)

So, in descending chronological order, here’s my definitive list of three-dimensional, or rather triple-axis tourbillons – with one notable deliberately left out. Send answers->here. The prize is the pride.*

1. Aaron Becsei’s Primus, unveiled this year at the AHCI stand at Baselworld. An extraordinary achievement for someone born in 1979. Puts your life’s work in perspective don’t it…?

2. “TAT”, from Thomas Prescher’s Trilogy – you get a single-axis and double-axis wristwatch in the bargain too! Another sickeningly youthful prodigy.

3. Revolution 3 – much prettier in the flesh than Franck Muller’s perpetually hideous CAD images imply.

4. Richard Good’s carriage clock (Prescher’s inspiration).

Tourbillons rotating in space are not a new thing though. As far back as 1860, American watchmaker Albert Potter constructed a tourbillon with an inclined balance for a carriage clock.
 German watchmaker Walter Prendel drew inspiration from the master horologer Alfred Helwig and tried again in 1928 to place the tourbillon in space, this time in a pocket watch. The balance spring and rotor was inclined 30 degrees from the horizontal and made one rotation in six minutes. In 1980, English watchmaker Anthony Randall – up there with Derek Pratt, Daniels, Dufour et al. – patented the first tourbillon with two perpendicular axes. Over 20 years later, Richard Danners developed a double-axis tourbillon in a large 55mm pocket watch for Gübelin.

*and yes, this does conveniently let me off the hook for not researching thoroughly enough…

Other notables for consideration;

Girard Perregaux Bi-Axial Tourbillon

Greubel Forsey's Quadruple Tourbillon à Différentiel

Blu's Majesty MT3 Tourbillon

Richard Daner for Gubelin

Jaeger LeCoultre's Reverso Tourbillon

Video Interview of Jean-François Ruchonnet of Cabestan

Video Interview of Jean-François Ruchonnet of Cabestan
An interview on the watchmaking video channel Time TV with the creator of one of most interesting watches of all time, the Cabestan Winch Tourbillon Vertical-->Video Link

Check out the new Cabestan site where the brand has gone into its first real production of a variety of styles (prices begin at $350,000)-->Website Link

And all previous posts of the Cabestan on The Watchismo Times-->Link

Video Interview of Jean-François Ruchonnet of CabestanVianney Halter's original Cabestan

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De Grisogono dG Meccanico Photos from Basel

De Grisogono dG Meccanico Photos from BaselSome real world pics I shot at Baselworld of the de Grisogono dG Meccanico with roller mechanical digital display. Read my original posting here-->Link

De Grisogono dG Meccanico Photos from Basel
De Grisogono dG Meccanico Photos from Basel
De Grisogono dG Meccanico Photos from Basel
De Grisogono dG Meccanico Photos from BaselGiant pustule crowns

De Grisogono dG Meccanico Photos from BaselOriginal Meccanico dG rendering

Note how they covered up the tubes in the finished watch. Likely due to lack of readability from angled viewing. The open rolling display is what made this watch interesting to me...

See Also;
All New 2008 Watch Posts-->Link

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Phinally! Photographs (and Video) of the HD3 Complication Bi-Axial Tourbillon "Vulcania"

I wish watch brands would release real photos along with their Computer renderings. Though it is likely the real watch isn't even completed when you first see them as CAD (above).

Until then, I gotta rely on fellow bloggers like these from ProfessionalWatches who shared this video and shots of the one of eleven HD3 Bi-Axial Tourbillons ($400,000) from the SIHH show in Geneva earlier this month.


For more about this Steampunk masterpiece, read my first feature of the HD3 Complication Vulcania designed by Fabrice Gonet here-->LINK

See Also;
All Tourbillon Posts-->Link
All New 2008 Watch Posts-->Link
All Steampunk Posts-->Link

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Gerald Genta Arena Metasonic - Limited Edition of Ten at $900,000 Each!Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 55 - The Most Complicated Trilogy of Watches Ever Produced!UnBNBelievable - BNB & The Confrérie Horlogère and the Only Watch 2009 ReleaseHelicoidal Timepieces of Philip Lütolf"Minute Man" by David Colman for The New York TimesNew Brand - Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps  "Sequential 1"A Round-Up of Three Dimensional TourbillonsVideo Interview of Jean-François Ruchonnet of CabestanDe Grisogono dG Meccanico Photos from BaselPhinally! Photographs (and Video) of the HD3 Complication Bi-Axial Tourbillon "Vulcania"

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