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TAG Heuer this week expands its offerings within the Carrera Heuer 02T collection with a new limited edition cased in polished titanium and sporting a blue sunray dial.

The new TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber Heuer 02T COSC.

Where previous Carrera Heuer 02T models feature darkened, skeletonized dials, sometimes with gold accents, this latest design is lighter-toned and with a sportier solid dial and – for the first time – a titanium bracelet.

You may recall that five years ago TAG Heuer launched the flying tourbillon chronograph movement inside this watch as the brand’s serialized ‘affordable’ tourbillon chronograph watch, priced around $16,000.

Now powering this newest watch, the Caliber Heuer 02T is still TAG Heuer’s primary tourbillon caliber and retains all its high-end technical features, notably an ultra-light carbon and titanium tourbillon cage and integration with a column-wheel chronograph. TAG Heuer is likely the sole Swiss watchmaker to offer this combination of chronograph, flying tourbillon and COSC-chronometer precision within the full collection’s price range, now starting at around $17,000.    

 

Here TAG Heuer has blued not only the full dial, but also the bridges of the tourbillon cage, the rubber that protects the crown and the pushers. Even the ceramic tachymeter bezel and the rotor (visible from the back of the case) are finished in blue.

 

With this watch TAG Heuer for the first time connects one of its Caliber 02T models to a bracelet. Where earlier models sported rubber straps or alligator sewn on black rubber, the new Carrera Heuer 02T features the watchmaker’s own titanium H-shape bracelet with a steel/titanium safety clasp.

The TAG Heuer Caliber Heuer 02T features an ultra-light carbon and titanium tourbillon cage.

Price: $21,500 and limited to 250 examples.

 

Specifications: TAG Heuer 
Carrera Caliber Heuer 02T COSC

(Reference CAR5A8C.BF0707)

Movement: Caliber Heuer 02T COSC with carbon and titanium tourbillon cage, column-wheel chronograph.

Case: 45mm polished and brushed titanium, ceramic blue polished tachymeter fixed bezel, 
domed, beveled sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment, water resistant to 100 meters. Crown with blue rubber and titanium, titanium pushers, titanium screwed sapphire case back with special engraving, limited numbered xxx/250.

Dial: Blue sunray brushed with three rhodium-plated and polished counters, white SuperLuminova Rhodium-plated polished hour and minute hands.

Strap: Titanium grade 2 H-shape bracelet, titanium and steel folding clasp with double safety push buttons; TAG Heuer shield.

Price: $21,500.

The new TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02T features a titanium H-shape bracelet with a steel/titanium safety clasp.

Greubel Forsey now offers its GMT Quadruple Tourbillon with a titanium case and adds eye-catching new blue hues to the dial of the highly complicated 46.5mm watch.

The newest Greubel Forsey GMT Quadruple Tourbillon is housed in a titanium case.

With its new case, the watch is one-third lighter than the original white gold model, which Greubel Forsey debuted in 2019. To complement that lightness, the watchmaker attaches a new rubber strap, which quite effectively enhances the modern profile of the watch, adding a touch of sportiness. (An alligator strap is also available.)

As noted, the new dial treatment maintains that message, with an electric-blue-hued hour ring and power reserve indicator.  Previously all black, the circular-grained hour ring retains its polished bevels, echoing the mainplate, which Greubel Forsey has made more contemporary with its own gray frosted and spotted finishing. The plate boasts a full complement of polished bevels and countersinks.

Greubel Forsey has also re-faced one of the watch’s many technical highlights: its titanium GMT globe. This miniature planet Earth, which Greubel Forsey debuted in 2011, now displays the continents amid newly bright blue seas, a livelier depiction than the globe rotating within the white gold GMT Quadruple Tourbillon two years ago.  The new ocean color nicely matches the new blue finish of the power reserve, hour circle and strap.

Many displays

These cosmetic changes haven’t altered the globe’s dramatic time display. The Earth is surrounded by a fixed 24 hours ring around the Equator. This ring displays local time for all the longitudes and takes into account the day/night with an indicator. A peek through the side of the case, through a sapphire window adjacent to the globe, reveals a clear view of the Equator and the southern hemisphere.

Beyond the new livery, the latest Greubel Forsey GMT Quadruple Tourbillon remains a feast for the eyes. The multi-level, three-dimensional dial offers the main hours and minutes subdial at the highest point (between 1 o’clock and 2 o’clock), with the coaxial small seconds and second time zone at 4 o’clock forming the second highest point.

You may recall that each Double Tourbillon 30° features a first cage rotating in one minute and angled at 30°, fitted inside a second upright cage that rotates once in four minutes. Greubel Forsey explains that the combination of the inner cage inclination and the different rotational speeds of the two cages cancel any timing variations. A spherical differential transmits the average timing rate of all four of the tourbillon cages, improving their chronometric performance.

The back of the watch also delivers both awe and information. Universal time can be spied, with a fixed 24-hour scale showing day and night zones and a disk with abbreviations of twenty-four cities. The same disk also distinguishes between the time zones that utilize Daylight Saving Time and those that don’t.

Greubel Forsey plans to make eleven examples of this new titanium-cased GMT Quadruple Tourbillon, each priced at 760,000 Swiss francs. The watch will be made, eventually, as an edition of sixty-six examples.

 

Specifications: Greubel Forsey GMT Quadruple Tourbillon, in titanium

Movement: Manual-wind, olive-domed jewels in gold chatons, three series-coupled fast-rotating barrels, 21,600 vph, inner tourbillons inclined at a 30° angle w/1 rotation per minute. 
Outer tourbillons: 1 rotation in four minutes.

Functions and displays: GMT, 2nd time zone, rotating globe with universal time and day-and-night, universal time on 24 
time zones, cities observing summer time, lateral window showing the equator and southern hemisphere, GMT pusher, quadruple tourbillon, hours and minutes, small seconds, power-reserve (72 hours).

Case: 46.50mm by 17.45mm titanium with asymmetrical convex synthetic sapphire crystal.

Dial: Multi-level in gold, anthracite color, gold hour-ring, colored blue, and blued power reserve with gold hour markers.

Strap: Rubber or hand-sewn alligator, titanium folding clasp, engraved with the GF logo.

Price: CHF 760,000.

 

With Bulgari’s contemporary style clearly evident throughout its record-setting Octo Finissimo collection, the Italian-Swiss watchmaker’s modernist approach to timepiece design is hardly in doubt. This week, Bulgari underscored that approach beyond its ultra-thin family with the new Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon, a surprising cutting-edge addition to its Haute Horlogerie collection.

The new Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon.

The new watch represents an extension of Bulgari’s well-known mastery of the chiming watch, seeded to a large degree twenty years ago years ago when it purchased Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth, two horological ateliers well versed in complicated watchmaking. That deep knowledge, nurtured and enhanced within Bulgari’s workshops over the years, is the underpinning of the brand’s rise to prominence within the world of haute horology.

Three hammers

The new Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon features a three-hammer chime combined with a tourbillon regulator, with both complex technical creations housed in a 44mm black DLC-coated titanium case.

In contrast to the brand’s Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie from a few years back, this newest chiming model betrays few classical design elements on its dial. Rather than a solid dial with markers and numerals, the wearer sees a black titanium grid open to show the watch’s tourbillon and its chimes in action.

And while the three hammers and gongs appear traditional in shape and function, their placement on the dial side is still fairly unusual among chiming watches.

Bulgari says it has hollowed out the titanium case in order to reduce the amount of metal between the inside and the outside, thus enhancing the transmission of sound. The new case design includes three openings, each of which corresponds to a chime.

As Bulgari explains, “Chimes are fixed directly on to the case body for most effective transmission of sound and the case is crafted in titanium to ensure the clearest possible diffusion of sound. The back is also hollowed and revamped with a meticulously crafted titanium grid that protect this resonance zone and allow sound to be transmitted to the outside.”

Bulgari’s new, manually wound Caliber BVL428, which includes 432 components, features hand crafted gongs that Bulgari artisans harden at high temperatures, which gives the metal a bright sound. The melody of the Carillon plays the note C for the hours, the mid-re-C notes in sequence for the quarters, and the mid note for the minutes.

The new Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon, flanked by the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon (left) and the Grande Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar (right).

The sound

Listening the Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon digitally, and not in person, is pleasing, even uplifting. Given Bulgari’s history of making exceptional chiming watches, I strongly suspect a live performance of the chime will live up to the brand’s grand descriptions.

Bulgari has equipped the movement with one classical barrel ensuring a power reserve of at least seventy-five hours for the movement at full charge. The functioning of the sound mechanism is ensured by a spring that the watchmaker has placed into a barrel-shaped container drilled directly in the bridge.

The watch comes on a black alligator leather strap with a three-blade folding clasp treated with DLC Titanium. Bulgari will offer the Octo Roma Carillon available as a limited edition of fifteen, with each piece engraved individually on the crown. Price: $259,000.

Specifications: Bulgari Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon

Movement: Mechanical manufacture caliber BVL428 with manual winding, minute repeater, 3-hammer carillon with Westminster chime, tourbillon and a power reserve indicator; 75-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph, skeletonized movement with bridges in black DLC coated titanium (8.35mm thick);

Case: 44mm black DLC-coated titanium with matte finish; open-worked titanium middle-case, specially conceived to enhance sound performances; white gold crown, set with a black ceramic insert; white gold push button to activate the chime.

Dial: Black DLC-coated titanium grid, exposing tourbillon and chiming components. 

Strap: Black rubberized alligator leather with black DLC coated titanium 3-blade folding buckle.

Price: $259,000. Limited edition of fifteen pieces.

De Bethune last week launched the DB Kind of Two Tourbillon, a two-sided watch with a contemporary tourbillon dial that the wearer can flip to show a classical time-only dial.

Like other two-sided watches, the new De Bethune watch means the wearer can choose to expose one of two different dials on his or her wrist.

The contemporary side of the De Bethune DB Kind of Two Tourbillon.

One side of the 42.8mm titanium watch displays the contemporary design with multi-level elements and delta-shaped bridge for which De Bethune is identified. This dial features the brand’s distinctive central hours and minutes hands and its high-speed tourbillon and a thirty-second indication. Here however, De Bethune altered its deltoid-shaped bridge just a bit to make it perfectly symmetrical, a design meant to create a stark sense of harmony.

The classic side of the De Bethune DB Kind of Two Tourbillon.

Classic side

On the other side of the DB Kind of Two De Bethune offers a more classical three-hand, time-only hand-guilloché dial, complete with Arabic numerals collectors might recognize from the brand’s DB8 and DB10. Note that the seconds indication on this side is centrally based, unlike the tourbillon-based seconds indication at the 6 o’clock position on the other side.

De Bethune notes that two-dial watches and clocks have a long history, starting with multi-face tower clocks and extending to similarly equipped table clocks. More recently, we’re familiar with the famed dual-dial Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.  Serious collectors also wear certain two-faced watches from Bovet, Cartier and others.

To devise the new dual-dial watch, De Bethune had to re-design its famed floating lug case to allow the flip-over case to pivot easily, rotate on its central axis and then to click into place securely. This operation is a simple one because the brand equipped each side of the case with a clever rotating mechanism made up of twenty-eight steel and titanium components.

Equally important is the case’s middle section, which swivels naturally and frames the case and the crown. That crown lands gracefully at either 6 o’clock or 12 o’clock, depending on which side of the DB Kind of Two Tourbillon the wearer chooses to view.

Inside the watch De Bethune’s Caliber DB2579 features patented technical flourishes well known to De Bethune devotees. These include a titanium balance with white gold inserts (optimized for temperature differences and air penetration) and a self-regulating twin barrel. For the tourbillon, De Bethune utilizes the ultra-light, 30-second titanium design it first debuted in 2008.

Price: $250,000.

Specifications: De Bethune DB Kind of Two Tourbillon

Movement: Manual-wind Caliber DB2579 with five-day power reserve, self-regulating twin barrel (De Bethune Innovation, 2004), titanium balance wheel with white gold inserts, optimized for temperature differences and air penetration
(De Bethune Patent, 2016), balance-spring with flat terminal curve (De Bethune Patent, 2006), silicon escape wheel, and ultra-light tourbillon in titanium. 36,000 vibrations per hour. Finishing includes polished and chamfered barrel bridge with shot-blasted stages, polished and chamfered titanium minute bridge with microlight decoration and hand-snailed barrels.

Contemporary single-sided display: hand-polished and blued titanium for hours and minutes with polished inserts, ultra-light De Bethune 30’’ tourbillon in titanium. Hour ring and 30” polished titanium dial with shot-blasted stages, blued polished titanium hour-markers, silvered and relief minute dial.

Classic reverse side display: Hand-polished and blued titanium for hours, minutes and seconds. Dial silvered and relief, with convex levels and guilloché central part.

Case: 42.8mm by 9.5mm titanium with crown at noon on the front, at 6 o’clock on the back, and integrated into the case. Polished grade 5 titanium floating lugs (De Bethune Patent, 2006). Case turning mechanism that can be clearly positioned on the front or back. 
Water resistance to 30 meters.

Strap: Alligator leather, alligator lining. 
Pin buckle in polished grade 5 titanium.

Price: $250,000.

Ulysse Nardin this week launches Blast, the latest of the Le Locle-based watchmaker’s Executive Skeleton X series of open-worked watches that feature distinctive rectangular and X-shaped bridges within a broad, round bezel. The four new 45mm Blast watches accentuate the collection’s see-through X design with a new silicon tourbillon placed within its own X-shaped cage.

The White Blast features white ceramic, metallic grey and dark blue accents.

With these shape-within-a-shape bridges, the new Blast retains the geometrical focus we’ve seen in recent Ulysse Nardin X models, including the three-horned strap link, a smooth, often colored bezel and the barrel at 12 o’clock.

The new Ulysse Nardin Blue Blast has a titanium middle case, blue titanium bezel, blue brass rectangular bridge, blue tourbillon cage, blue and grey double “X” pattern, metallic grey sculpted hands and indexes.

Micro-rotor

But the new Blast offers much that differs from previous Skeleton X offerings, especially with its new case architecture and a new tourbillon movement employing Ulysse Nardin’s first-ever micro-rotor. 

The new skeletonized UN-172 movement (an evolution of the UN-171), with its silicon escape wheel, anchor and balance spring, powers each of the four Ulysse Nardin Blast watches.

The new skeletonized UN-172 movement in the Blast features a tourbillon with silicon escape wheel, anchor and balance spring.

As the first automatic tourbillon within Ulysse Nardin’s Skeleton collection, you’ll find a platinum micro-rotor (visible only from the front of the watch) winding the mainspring, supplying a three-day reserve when fully wound.

The Rose Gold Blast features a black DLC middle case and solid gold horns, black ceramic bezel, a bicolor tourbillon cage (rose gold colored and black PVD), sculpted rose gold indexes and hands.

New Lugs

Ulysse Nardin has also restyled the lugs, making them more angular and finishing each triangular surface differently. The lug surfaces, polished by laser using a new technique devised by Ulysse Nardin, alternate between polished, satin-finish and sand blasted. The idea, according to Ulysse Nardin, is to mimic “sharp rocks that jut out of a volcano.”

The Blast’s lug surfaces are polished by laser using a new technique devised by Ulysse Nardin.

Also new here is a self-deploying, three-blade buckle that releases with a single click. When closing, the system simultaneously pulls both ends of the strap toward the clasp. 

Blast features a new self-deploying buckle that releases with a single click.

Ulysse Nardin is making four distinct Blast models: White, Blue, Black and Rose Gold. Each offers its own set of color or design accents ­– even within the tourbillon itself. The Black Blast, for example, comes with a ceramic upper middle case and bezel, black rectangular bridge, red and black double “X” pattern and a stunning new red balance wheel – the first time Ulysse Nardin has ever colorized its balance wheel.

The Black Blast comes with a ceramic upper middle case and bezel, black rectangular bridge, red and black double “X” pattern and a stunning new red balance wheel – the first time that Ulysse Nardin has ever developed a colored balance wheel.

Several strap options are available for each model, including structured rubber, leather and velvet.

 

The back view of the Ulysse Nardin Black Blast.

 

Prices:

Blue (T-1723-400/03) $44,000

Black (T-1723-400/BLACK) $46,000

White (T-1723-400/00)  $46,000  

Rose Gold (T-1725-400/02) $54,000  

 

Specifications: Ulysse Nardin Blast

Movement: Caliber UN-172, skeletonized automatic tourbillon with micro-rotor. Functions: Tourbillon, hours, minutes, raised rectangular bridge, escapement wheel, anchor, and balance spring in silicon, platinum micro-rotor at 12 o’clock, 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz). Power reserve is 72 hours.

Case: 45mm x 13mm titanium or titanium/ceramic multi-part with PVD/DLC coating; rose gold and ceramic for rose gold model, sapphire case back, sapphire crystal, water resistance to 50 meters.

Strap:  Structured or plain rubber, alligator or calfskin, velvet or denim.

 

Bulgari advanced its six-year run of horological record-breaking this week with the new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic, the sixth ultra-thin watch in as many years claiming ultimate horological thinness.

Bulgari’s new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph.

Measuring a wispy 7.4mm thick, thanks to a 3.5mm thick skeletonized movement and a thin, sandblasted titanium case, the watch now claims the title as the thinnest watch with both a tourbillon and a single-push chronograph. 

A look at the Bulgari Octo Finissimo World Record ultra-thin watches since 2014, with the new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph in front.

 

In addition to this headlining debut from Bulgari’s slate of three debuts at Geneva Watch Days, the Italo-Swiss watchmaker also showed the Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport, a new model inspired by the famed Gerald Genta Arena design from 1969. Bulgari also debuted the Bulgari Aluminum, another retro-inspired watch based on the very successful aluminum-cased original from 1998.

Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic

This new watch combines features Bulgari has already mastered within an ultra-thin package: an automatic tourbillon (seen in the 2018 Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic) and the chronograph (debuted just last year with the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic).

The new watch measures 7.4mm thick, thanks to a 3.5mm thick skeletonized movement and a thin, sandblasted titanium case.

Here however Bulgari has transformed the chronograph from a three-subdial layout to a two-counter display, and is now activated, stopped and reset by pressing the top of two rectangular pushers. The lower pusher, at the 4 o’clock location, sets the crown to either allow for hand-winding or for setting the time.

The new skeletonized BVL388, with a horizontal clutch with a column wheel, has been finished and designed with eye-catching contemporary flair.

The chronograph subdials are the only real dials here as Bulgari has skeletonized the Caliber BVL388, including the tourbillon’s bridge, exposing more of the movement to the wearer. From the back, the wearer can also enjoy a view of the peripheral rotor Bulgari first added to the Finissimo series in the 2018 Chronograph GMT Automatic.

The new BVL388 skeletonized caliber, dial-side view.

The new watch’s gold oscillating weight races around a skeletonized BVL388 displaying a horizontal clutch with a column wheel, all of which Bulgari has finished and designed with eye-catching contemporary flair. 

Bulgari will make fifty Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph watches, each priced at $142,000.

The new Gerald Genta Arena Bi-Retro Sport

Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport

This release is the second of the revived Gerald Genta collection dedicated to its namesake, the premiere watch designer of the past fifty years. You might recall that Bulgari debuted the first commemorative Gerald Genta model last year with the 50th Anniversary platinum Arena bi-retro watch. 

That release, first seen in Geneva last year, recalls Bulgari’s acquisition of the Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth brands in 2000, a purchase that has played a significant role in building Bulgari’s haute horlogerie expertise.

Gérald Genta, who died in 2011 at the age of 80, designed many of the icons of modern watch design, including the Universal Genève Polerouter, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the IWC Ingenieur, Cartier’s Pasha, the Omega Constellation, the Bvlgari Bvlgari and the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Many of these designs remain bestsellers for their respective brands.

Like the 2019 Genta release, the 2020 Gérald Genta Arena watch also focuses on the jumping hours display, here framed in titanium instead of the highly polished platinum seen last year. Bulgari places the watch’s characteristic jumping hours in a large window at 12 o’clock while the minutes are tracked on an arc that spans the top half of the matte black dial with brilliant yellow numerals and broad, skeletonized hands.

As with most Genta jumping hour watches of the past, the minute hand travels across the top of the dial, snapping back to zero every sixty minutes. The date is set in a smaller arc at 6 o’clock.

Powered by the BVL 300 Caliber with jumping hours, retrograde minutes (210°) and date (180°), the watch’s bidirectional self-winding movement boasts a 42-hour power reserve and is visible through the clear sapphire case back. Bulgari will match a matte black alligator strap and a titanium buckle with the titanium case.

Price: $14,800.

The three new Bulgari Aluminum watches.

Bulgari Aluminum

A surprising hit when it debuted in 1998, the original Bulgari Aluminum was quickly spotted on the wrists of celebrities and collectors alike. Made of rubber and aluminum, a combination not seen among higher-end Swiss watches previously, the watch was casually sporty and worn by men and women.

An ad for the 1998 Bulgari Aluminum watches.

The new Bulgari Aluminum echoes the original in most respects, from its case and bracelet materials (still aluminum and rubber), its wide, black rubber bezel and its large markers

But for this re-edition, Bulgari has replaced the mechatronic-quartz movement of the earlier model with new automatic movements. Bulgari has placed an ETA-based caliber B77 inside the time-only model and has fit Caliber B130 into the chronograph model.

In addition, Bulgari has reshaped the watch’s lugs to better fit the new 40mm case size, and it has utilized a new aluminum alloy, which Bulgari says is stronger and more resistant to wear than earlier alloys. The rubber quality has also been improved, says Bulgari.

Prices: $2,950 (time only, either dial color), and $4,250 (chronograph)

 

Specifications:

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic

(Limited edition of 50 pieces.)

Movement: Automatic Bulgari manufacture BVL 388 caliber ultra-thin skeleton with automatic winding, chronograph single-push and tourbillon, (3.50 mm thick). 52 hours power reserve, 21,600 vph (3Hz).

Dial: Solid chronograph subdials within skeletonized movement. Round primary bezel with eight-sided and marked inner bezel.

Case: Stepped eight-sided 42mm sandblasted titanium with transparent caseback; 7.40 mm thick, sandblasted titanium crown and push buttons; skeletonized grey matte dial with plain counters. Water-resistant to 30 meters.

Bracelet: Sandblasted titanium with folding buckle.

Bulgari Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport

Movement: Manufacture mechanical movement bi-retro BVL300 caliber with automatic winding (bidirectional), jumping hours, retrograde minutes (210°) and date (180°). 42 hours power reserve, 28,800 vph (4Hz). thickness: 6.10mm.

Case: 43mm brushed titanium (12 mm thick), water-resistant to 100 meters;

Dial: Black and anthracite dial with yellow indexes and hands.

Bracelet: Matte black alligator strap with titanium buckle.

Bulgari Aluminum

Three-hand models

Movement: Mechanical ETA-based movement with automatic winding and date, B77 caliber, 42 hours of power reserve.

Case: 40mm aluminum with titanium caseback with DLC treatment and rubber bezel, titanium with DLC treatment crown, water-resistant to 100 meters.

Dial: Warm grey or black with SNL indexes and hands

Bracelet: Rubber with aluminum links, aluminum buckle.

Chronograph

Movement: Automatic chronograph with date, B130 caliber, 42 hours of power reserve.

Case: 40mm aluminum with titanium back case, DLC treatment and rubber bezel, titanium with DLC treatment push buttons and crown

Dial: Warm grey with black counters and SNL indexes and hands, water-resistant to 100 meters.

Bracelet: Rubber with aluminum links, Aluminum buckle.

 

With multiple debuts during the past year, Franck Muller has shifted its skills at fashioning dynamic openwork movements into overdrive.

The Franck Muller Vanguard Revolution 3 Skeleton

Most recently, the independent Geneva-based watchmaker debuted a stunning Vanguard Revolution 3 Skeleton triple-axis tourbillon, the first time we’ve seen this mesmerizing movement inside the best-selling tonneau-shaped Vanguard case. (We’ll have details on this ultra-complicated watch in an upcoming post).

The Franck Muller Vanguard Skeleton-Swiss Limited Edition

In early July, Franck Muller debuted the red and white Vanguard Skeleton Swiss Limited Edition, dedicated to the brand’s home country.

Racing Skeleton

This spring in a more broad-based debut Franck Muller updated its Vanguard Racing Skeleton with a lighter, more open-worked movement and more intense use of titanium, carbon fiber and aluminum.

The new Franck Muller Vanguard Racing Skeleton, here with a carbon fiber case.

With a new, heavily skeletonized movement, you’ll see more hints of a racecar engine within the movement’s structure.

Perhaps the most noticeable nod to automotive timing is the seconds indicator. Here, you read seconds starting from the lower portion of the dial (at 6 o’clock) instead of the top. This echoes most automobile rev counters. With two red tips, the hand also shows the wearer an ongoing seconds display from both ends of the hand.

Furthermore, the white hand with red tip and the bicolor second indications track reinforce the idea of a rev counter. Even without a gas pedal, the owner might possibly want to push the hand into the red zone. Of course, as this is not a chronograph, any ‘racing’ will not technically include a timing element. The watch displays only hours, minutes, seconds and date.

Ultra-visible

To further accentuate the skeleton design, the date numbers have been fully skeletonized. The central seconds counter, thanks to a smoked sapphire glass, provides a full display while allowing complete movement visibility.

For a closer fit, Franck Muller has subtly integrated the strap into the case with the help of two unseen screws instead of the regular spring-bar technique.

And finally, the rubber inside the strap shapes more easily to the wrist, while the Alcantara suede layer recalls a sports car cockpit.

Franck Muller makes the Vanguard Racing Skeleton line in 44mm by 53.7mm rose gold, stainless steel, titanium and carbon case options. Prices upon request.

 

The new Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon Koi is a beautiful reminder that this Swiss watchmaker with English roots can create stunning artistic dials on demand. This bespoke watchmaking service supplements Arnold & Son’s ongoing offerings, which include iW favorites like the Perpetual Moon, the Globetrotter and Nebula collections, all of which offer technically edgy watchmaking with distinctive designs.

The Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon Koi

Arnold & Son says customers can work with its watchmakers and artisans to make a bespoke watchcase, within which the customer can then request any movement or dial using engraving, gem setting, miniature painting or sculpted elements.

This latest one-off, the Ultrathin Tourbillon Koi, highlights Arnold & Son’s already interesting Ultrathin Tourbillon. The watch is particularly suited for personalized activity in part because of its off-center dial at 12 o’clock, which provides an empty canvas of sorts for Arnold & Son’s artisans.

The Koi

In this example, Arnold & Son artists started with a mother-of-pearl dial and created a hand-painted carp, adding sculpted lotuses around the thin flying tourbillon. Two carp can be seen swimming between lotus blossoms. One type, the Tancho carp (with its red mark on its head) swims on the right while the other swims along the left side.

Arnold & son explains that the three lotus blossoms feature petals cut from silver that has been shaped, engraved, polished and painted in white lacquer. The artist makes the each flower’s pistil in the same manner.

Then the artisan paints the carp and lotus leaves by hand, using thin brushes, depicting scales and striped fins.

Ultra-thin

Technically, the Arnold & Son Caliber A&S8200 is exceedingly thin (a mere 2.97 mm), creating a workspace not too much thicker than a traditional canvas. The caliber’s flying tourbillon (with only a lower carriage bridge) allows unfettered views of the mechanism. Additionally, the balance bridge is domed and extends slightly from the dial, which makes the tourbillon’s rotation even more interesting to watch.

Finally, note the skeletonized tourbillon main plate. With this nearly transparent component, Arnold & Son retains the piece’s overall fine attributes, or its lightness.

But don’t let that thin, airy appearance fool you to think that the caliber itself is also a lightweight. If the flying tourbillon doesn’t convince you of the high technical level at which Arnold & Son operates here, consider that this ultra-thin manual-wind movement boasts an extremely impressive ninety-hour power reserve.

None of this high-end artistic and technical work comes at a bargain however, but given the bespoke nature of the final product, its $96,700 price tag is comparable to other high-end Swiss works ­– and many of those are far from unique.

 

Specifications: Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon Koi (Unique piece Ref. 1UTAR.M99A.)

Movement: Caliber A&S8200, one-minute flying tourbillon, manual winding, 2.97mm thick, 90-hour power reserve, frequency of 3 Hz (21,600 vph). Finishes are as follows:

Mainplate: Côtes de Genève stripes radiating from the center and hand-engraved tourbillon bridge,

Bridges: polished and chamfered by hand,

Wheels: circular satin-finished,

Screws: blued and chamfered, mirror-polished heads,

Tourbillon carriage: satin-finished, polished and chamfered.

Dial: Miniature painting on black mother-of-pearl, silver lotus flowers, engraved and painted by hand.

Case: 42mm x 12.23 5N gold, domed sapphire crystal, water resistant to 100 feet.

Strap: Hand-stitched alligator leather with gold pin buckle.

Price: $96,700

  

Among the three watches Patek Philippe unveiled this week, this Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon is possibly the most distinctive, in part because the watch is the newest, most contemporary design among the debuts.

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5303 is the first Patek Philippe Grand Complication with a minute repeater visible on the dial side. Note the clear view of the hammers and gongs.

While the other two debuts, Reference 5270J-001 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
 and Reference 5370P-011 Split-Seconds Chronograph, represent line extensions for classically designed watches available since, respectively, 2018 and 2015, the new Ref. 5303R-001 modifies a newer design debuted last year as a limited edition of twelve watches during Patek Philippe’s ‘grand exhibition’ in Singapore.

Where that Ref. 5303 appeared accented in red to commemorate the Singapore flag, this new version offers the same open, dial-free architecture but with a black minutes track and a gold seconds hand.

Open architecture

Here, Patek Philippe again reworks the manual-wind R TO 27 PS minute repeater caliber to emphasize its chiming operation. As a result, the repeater is fully visible on the watch’s dial side, where Patek Philippe has repositioned the caliber’s gong and hammers.

This allows the wearer to both hear and see the repeater mechanism’s hammers and gongs as they chime the time without taking the watch off the wrist – a first for any Patek Philippe grand complication.

Patek Philippe has skeletonized the caliber and then carefully hand-finished all its remaining bridges and surfaces. The Geneva brand’s finishers have decorated the movement’s plate with Genevan circular graining, applied a perlage to the recesses and decorated the hammers with a circular satin finish.The tourbillon

The tourbillon is even more transparent than the minute repeater as it’s visible from the front and the back of the watch.

The tourbillon at 6 o’clock is visible through the small seconds counter and can also be seen from the back.

From the back, the viewer can eye the back of the tourbillon case, exactly opposite the dial-side seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. Patek Philippe finishers have filigreed the tourbillon’s steel components until they sparkle – a nice contrast to the rose gold back plate.

The case

The watch’s 42mm rose-gold case notably features a wide polished bezel framing a black-lacquered sapphire-crystal rim. Patek Philippe has also placed leaf-shaped white-gold inlays along the watch’s the sides (including the repeater slide) and the sides of the lugs.

This somewhat surprising naturalistic design element –also seen shaping the white gold, black-lacquered hands ­– nicely balances the watch’s contemporary skeleton caliber.

The watch’s white gold minute repeater slide is engraved with a leaf-shaped pattern.

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon emphasizes both Patek Philippe’s mastery of the minute repeater and the depth of its artisanal arsenal.

Full view of the back of the watch.

Now available in limited production (though not as a limited edition) without the initial model’s red-tinted accents, this chiming watch will undoubtedly attract serious collectors who seek both Patek Philippe’s technical acumen as well as its contemporary aesthetic combined into one highly complicated watch.

Price: Upon request.

 

Specifications: Patek Philippe Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon

Movement: Manual-wind 
Caliber R TO 27 PS minute repeater with classic gongs, tourbillon, small seconds, 365 parts, golden plate decorated with circular Geneva striping. Frequency: 21,600 semi-oscillations/hour 
(3 Hz) with a power reserve of 48 hours maximum.

Dial: Transparent sapphire, black hour circle with minute markers printed in white and golden powdered dots, pierced black lacquered leaf-shaped hands in white gold.

Case: 42mm by 12.13mm rose gold, white gold decorative inserts, humidity- and dust-protected only 
(not water-resistant), sapphire crystal case back, UV-protected sapphire crystal glass.

Strap: Alligator leather with square scales, hand-stitched, shiny black, fold-over clasp

Price: Upon request.

 

Each year we take a moment to note the anniversary of the first tourbillon, the whirling regulation device Abraham-Louis Breguet patented on June 26, 1801. Breguet’s invention helped make pocket watches more precise by counteracting many of the negative effects of gravity on timekeeping precision.

Abraham-Louis Breguet

As is the case each year, Montres Breguet has provided us with a few visual reminders of how Breguet’s invention eventually started more than two centuries of tourbillon development by watchmakers.

A Breguet tourbillon

That development, however, was surprisingly slow. Found primarily in pocket watches and the occasional clock, the tourbillon wasn’t adopted for serially produced wristwatches until the 1980s, though a few prototype wristwatches with tourbillons were developed by Omega in 1947 and even earlier by special order at other Swiss manufacturers and by the French maker LIP.

Breguet Tourbillon N°1188

Breguet also reminds us that Abraham-Louis Breguet created only thirty-five tourbillon watches, with fewer than ten known to survive (including the No. 1188, pictured above).

The Breguet N°2567

The House of Breguet possesses several additional historical tourbillon pocket watches, including No. 1176 sold by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1809, and No. 2567 sold in 1812, along with original records that list every single Breguet historical creation.

Many original Breguet tourbillons can be found in the Breguet Boutique & Museum in Place Vendome, Paris.

Here are just a few recent Breguet tourbillon watches that bear witness to the legacy of the man who devised the device, and whose name is on the building.

For 2020, Breguet adorns the dial of its Extra-Thin Self-Winding Tourbillon with a touch of deep blue, by using the traditional grand feu enamel technique.
Engraved caseback of the newest Breguet Extra-Thin Self-Winding Tourbillon.
Breguet this year offers its Marine Tourbillon Équation Marchante 5887 with a rose gold case with a gold dial.
The eye-catching engraved caseback of the Breguet Marine Tourbillon Équation Marchante 5887.