Peripheral visions

By: Michael Thompson   March 2, 2012

A first-time observer might be forgiven for thinking that the Carl F. Bucherer Patravi Calendar is a manual-wind watch. After all, he or she would not see anything like a traditional fan-shaped oscillating weight upon turning the watch over to peer into its movement.

But closer inspection would reveal a crescent-shaped metal train rotating around the edge of the distinctly contemporary caliber. Spinning in both directions, this peripheral rotor, built as part of the firm’s CFB A1000 Manufacture Caliber, did much to elevate Carl F. Bucherer’s manufacturing shops within the Swiss watch industry upon its debut at BaselWorld in 2008.

A year later Carl F. Bucherer placed a modified version of the movement (to create A1001) into its first case as it debuted the cushion-shaped big-date Patravi EvoTec watch, a day/date model that has since seen several iterations. Adding additional functions to the A1001, the firm in 2010 launched the A1002 with Power reserve indicator in the EvoTec Power Reserve, as well as the A1003, which is the heart of the EvoTec BigDate.

Last year, however, the company broke the mold, so to speak. It rounded the case corners completely, creating the Patravi Calendar (see above and on this month’s cover), the first round watch powered by one of the firm’s round in-house calibers, in this case the CFB A1004.

“We know that more people prefer round watches,” notes Carl F. Bucherer’s United States distributor Ron Stoll. “So we have created this new model to offer another option for buyers.” He adds that the advent of the premiere in-house caliber in 2008 and its subsequent use within the Patravi collection has quickly made it the favorite Carl F. Bucherer collection among U.S. consumers.

Technical attractions
“True watch collectors look for watchmaking relevance,” he adds, which meant many took a second look at the brand’s offerings immediately following the launch of the A1000 and its newer versions. Such attention was critical to the brand for many reasons and was even more important to Stoll as he was building the brand’s name recognition domestically. Currently forty-seven retailers sell the brand in the United States.

In addition to the new, in-house sourcing of the new caliber, its technical attributes attract knowledgeable buyers who appreciate the added winding effectiveness Carl F. Bucherer built in to the new caliber.

Indeed, where past attempts at peripheral oscillators have suffered from less than ideal power generation and fragile winding tracks, the CFB calibers instead use a new type of dynamic shock absorption for the oscillating weight, which effectively prevents damage to sensitive bearings should the rotor move laterally during impacts. Carl F. Bucherer has also added to this patented invention an also-patented fine adjustment system for the balance wheel, meaning it needs only one adjustment in its lifetime.

In addition, the rotor tends to be more efficient than many standard rotors, despite its unusual shape, notes Stoll.

“It’s more efficient because it builds power in the mainspring as it rotates (bi-directionally), whereas typical rotors are designed to only maintain power during rotation.”

A peripheral rotor also notably offers wearers –and their friends–a completely unfettered view of the CFB caliber. Such a clear view is aesthetically pleasing to most collectors of course, and with no mass to block any section of the movement, owners often remove the watch to admire its consciously contemporary layout.

Indeed, despite its founding in Lucerne more than 120 years ago, Carl F. Bucherer prides itself on its modern profile and high-tech manufacturing capability. In 2007 the company acquired Techniques Horlogères Appliquées  (THA), a Sainte-Croix, Switzerland,-based watch manufacturer and created Carl F. Bucherer Technologies, which develops all the above-noted in-house calibers as well as a three-time-zone movement (CFB 1901) that drives the firm’s popular Patravi TravelTec.

“Bucherer Montres S.A. worked closely with THA for some years, investing a good deal of money and energy in the development of the CFB 1901,” notes Dr. Albrecht Haake, executive vice president technologies of  Bucherer Montres.

Today Carl F. Bucherer Technologies employs thirty-four technicians who oversee the caliber development for the company, which overall employs about 120 people worldwide. But while the facility develops all the new calibers, complete in-house development for all movements is not the goal for the firm.

“There’s a lot of demand from customers for more affordable watches and we can’t meet it solely with movements made in our own workshops,” notes Bucherer Montres CEO Sascha Moeri. He adds that the firm’s next development, CFB A2000, will power a conventional date model and is likely to debut in two or three years. In addition, look for a new chronograph in the near term.

“But our top priorities at the moment are to further consolidate and stabilize production with a view to reducing supply bottlenecks, guarantee that movements are available as required and secure our independence in the development of new watch functions,” notes Haake. Current production of the in-house portion of the firm’s calibers equals about ten percent of overall production, notes Stoll, though this will slowly increase in upcoming years.

In addition to the Patravi collection, Carl F.Bucherer offers the more traditional Manero collection (featuring the 2011 central chrono with a rare center sweep and recording hand) and the hi-jewelry Alacria models.

“We are a boutique brand, and by nature that lends itself to more discerning customers who are not looking for the mass/distributed and produced timepiece,” Stoll says. “Carl F. Bucherer designs are classics in nature and not designed on trends.”

Look for additional Carl F. Bucherer 2012 models profiled in upcoming issues of International Watch.

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