Hiren Kumar Bose on the functional ingenuity, innovation and creative interpretation of timekeeping of the watches which bowled the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève jury from among the 72 entries that participated in the event’s 17th edition
VACHERON CONSTANTIN Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600
High Point: Combines astronomy and the art of fine watchmaking it displays 23 complications on its twin dials.
The 45 mm White gold manual-winding mechanical watch with functions like Hours, Minutes, Date, Day, Month, Year, Moonphase, Power reserve, Tourbillon, Perpetual calendar, Equation of time is limited to one piece. Twenty-three essentially astronomical complications appear on the front and back dials of the watch, providing a reading of time in three modes – civil, solar and sidereal – each driven by its own gear train. Embodying the height of technical sophistication, its new fully integrated 514-part calibre measures a mere 8.7 mm thick, while six barrels guarantee three full weeks of autonomy. Five years of development starting from a blank page, a dedicated master-watchmaker, along with two years of design, have given life to the one-of-a-kind Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, displaying 23 complications on its twin dials. This Haute Horlogerie ‘heavenly phenomenon’ is one of the most complex ever made and heir to a proud lineage of astronomical timepieces. It provides a combined display of civil, solar and sidereal times by means of three separate gear trains. Swept over by a pair of White gold open-tipped hands, civil (or standard) time is read off in the traditional manner on the front dial. Civil time is a universally recognised meantime based on the fictional principle that the Sun moves around the equator at a constant speed throughout the year, averaging one full turn every 24 hours. This convenient and conventional choice divides the year into 365.25 days, each day into 24 hours and each hour into 60 minutes.
PARMIGIANI FLEURIER Toric Hémisphères Rétrograde
High Point: Its two time zones allows any two locations to be paired, and correct to the nearest minute
The 42.8mm Pink gold self-winding mechanical watch functions like Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Date, Second Time zone is a traveller’s timepiece. With its two time zones, it allows any two locations to be paired, and correct to the nearest minute. It even allows those locations with a half-hour or quarter-hour difference to be paired with full hour times set from the Greenwich meridian. A module is indexed to the main movement in order to govern the second time zone. By pulling out the small crown at 2 o’clock, the module is disengaged from the movement, meaning that it can be adjusted independently of the second time zone, to the nearest minute. When the crown is pressed back in, the movement and the module re-engage and the second time zone is re-indexed to the first so that they operate simultaneously with the desired interval. The main crown at 9 o’clock is used to wind the movement and set the time of the two paired time zones. Each of the time zones is associated with a window, which provides the day/night indication so that the time of day can be read in an instant for each time zone. The calibre PF 317 also features an instant retrograde calendar, indicated by the third central hand. As it moves towards the last days of the month, the hand activates a spring which drives it back to number 1 with great force. This 240° movement is so fast that it cannot be seen with the naked eye. This self-winding movement has a double series-mounted barrel for improved isochronism and rate regularity, with a power reserve of 50 hours.
ZENITH Defy Lab
High Point: Consists of only two components with considerably optimized functionality and the use of high-tech composite material, is called Aeronith
Limited to 10 pieces the 44mm self-winding mechanical watch with functions like Hours, Minutes, Seconds and Special Escapement instead of using the conventional means of regulating a mechanical watch by means of a balance and hairspring assembly with its more than 30 individual parts and a thickness of about 5 mm, the innovative monolithic regulating organ for the Defy Lab which consists of only two components with considerably optimized functionality. Impressive key data includes an unbelievable 15 Hz frequency with an amplitude of +/- 6 degrees, achieved by the new Zenith-Oscillator consisting of two components made of monocrystalline silicon (and in future from other pioneering materials); as well as a power reserve of 55 hours, meaning 10 percent more power reserve than the El Primero in spite of the triple frequency. Moreover, the new Zenith-Oscillator takes the form of a single piece without any mechanical linkages, instead of the 31 customary parts that require assembly, adjustment, setting, testing and lubrication. The all-new high-tech composite material of the Defy Lab case is called Aeronith and represents the second world premiere in this watch. Invented by the LVMH Watch Division Research & Development Department and featuring a density of just 1.6 kg / dm3, it is the world’s lightest existing aluminium composite: 2.7 times lighter than titanium, 1.7 times lighter than pure aluminium and even 10% lighter than carbon fibre composite. Aeronith is produced using pioneering technologies and consists of porous aluminium, the interspaces of which are filled with polymethylmethacrylate to make the case material as light as possible and also as strong as possible. This gives this material the necessary mechanical properties for the perfect use as a watch case, while at the same time minimizing the density and thus also the weight. The material used for the Zenith-Oscillator is monocrystalline silicon coated with a layer of silicon oxide. The absence of conventional mechanical couplings in this system eliminates contact, friction, wear, slack, lubrication, assemblies and dispersions. Fewer parts, made out of new pioneering materials and technologies, deliver improved functionality, resulting in the most precise mechanical watch in history. With the Defy Lab, a world premiere movement feature is housed in a world premiere case material.
GREUBEL FORSEY QP À Équation
High Point: Endowed with a mechanical computer, an entirely integrated 25-part component that brings a totally new interpretation to some of the calendar functions incorporated in age-old astronomical clocks
The 43.5 mm Manual-winding mechanical watch with functions like Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Date, Day, Month, Year, Power reserve, Tourbillon, Perpetual Calendar and Equation of Time is the result of seven years of research, the assembly of no fewer than 624 parts, three patents, and the combination of two inventions. To create this watchmaking complication it was first necessary to develop a Mechanical Computer, an entirely integrated 25-part component that brings a totally new interpretation to some of the calendar functions incorporated in age-old astronomical clocks. It is composed of a set of coding wheels superimposed in a coaxial manner, along with removable fingers programmed by this ingenious system. Depending on their rotation speeds and the number of teeth, these wheels provide a variety of information. The Mechanical Computer also directly drives a system of sapphire disks that displays the equation of time, i.e. the difference between the “real” solar time and civil time. Paramount to this was simplifying the way all the indications can be corrected by turning the bi-directional crown. Despite its multiple functions and displays, added to its combination of three patents and two inventions, it remains as easy to set as a simple calendar. The dial of the indicates leap years, the 24 hours of the day and night, the day of the week, the large date, the month, the hours, the minutes and the seconds, as well as the chronometric 72-hour power reserve. On the movement side, this timepiece displays the equation of time with the months, seasons, solstices and equinoxes, as well as the calendar year. Three apertures lined up in the sub-dial at 3 o’clock give an unequivocal indication of the day, date and month for enhanced visual comfort. The large date boosts readability, making it especially easy to make out the elements of the calendar. The timekeeping of this timepiece relies on Greubel Forsey’s third invention: the Tourbillon 24 Secondes, which uses a fast rotation speed and inclined angle to solve the problem of critical positions of the oscillator in relation to gravity. A 25° angle and the rapid revolution of the tourbillon cage significantly improve the chronometric performance of a system containing only one tourbillon, especially in stable positions. It is an ultra-complicated timepiece with its tourbillon and its complete equation of time perpetual calendar function, but it is as easy to use and adjust as a watch with three hands. This system is extremely easy to adjust in both directions without damaging the mechanism.
High Point: Brings forth the ancient Japanese lacquer technique on the dial, bridges and cover of the case back
The 39mm white gold watch has a manual winding movement with functions like Hours, Minutes and Special escapement shares the lineage of the brand’s, Vingt-8. Using the techniques of lacquering which takes over a thousand hours of work to complete the dial, bridges and cover of the case back has been done in the studios of Unryuan in Wajima town in Japan. This kind of work of art made hundreds of years ago is still here today, it can be restored and remains like new even we touch and manipulate lacquer with human hands. This superlative work engages us immediately on a physical level and one can only stand in awe at the commitment, patience and dedication required to create these works of art. This superlative work engages us immediately on a physical level and one can only stand in awe at the commitment, patience and dedication required to create these works of art. The raw materials for its creation are Kinpun (gold dust), Jyunkin-itakane (gold leaf), Yakou-gai (shell of great green turban) and Awabi-gai (abalone shell from New Zealand). Limited to a one piece it is priced at 350’000 CHF.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Lady Arpels Papillon Automate
High Point: The watch is embellished by lapidaries, enamellers, engravers and stone-setters. The butterfly beats its wings on demand
Hailing from the brand’s ‘poetic complication’ series, launched in 2006, the 40mm white gold self-winding mechanical watch comes with functions like Hours, Minutes, Power Reserve and Automaton. Lapidaries, enamelers, engravers and stone-setters have used their ancestral savoir-faire to embellish this watch. Van Cleef & Arpels draws from its enchanted world to offer a dreamlike perspective on the passage of time. As the hours and minutes flow discretely by on the right, the butterfly beats its wings randomly – one to four times in a row, depending on the power reserve. The frequency of the movements is also irregular since they take place every two to four minutes when the watch is not being worn and more often when it is on the wrist. The butterfly’s liveliness echoes that of its wearer, with alternating periods of calm and activity. The spectacle on the dial can also be triggered at the push of a button: the butterfly then beats its wings on demand.