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Masters Of Time

The 27th Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie closed to an unprecendented finish recently and we have taken the liberty to feature some of the stunning timepieces that undeniably define the purpose and function of haute horology.

Artistic Discipline – Greubel Forsey Art Piece 2- Edition 2

Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey have long espoused ‘The Art of Invention’ as their driving force towards their forward-looking philosophy in watchmaking. As such, the Art Piece 2, is yet another masterclass from the Maison. This ‘art of invention’ is particularly present when it comes to the stunning Art Piece series. The Art Piece 2 – Edition 2 challenges the boundaries of creativity even further. As is with most Greubel Forsey timepieces, the Art Piece 2 is a testimony to the watchmaker’s unique artistic expression philosophy. Displaying elements of the brand’s history, the timepiece houses an optical instrument that allows the viewer to see a nano-engraved sketch of the Double Tourbillon 30º mechanism, Greubel Forsey’s first invention. The Double Tourbil-lon 30° appears to be a moving sculpture. Here, the indication of time is secondary: a push-piece that controls a bi-stable mechanism needs to be activated in order to obtain an indication of the hours and minutes. The power reserve takes precedence over all other information with the aim of altering the relationship with temporality: it is not the current time that we contemplate, but the time remaining. This subtle metaphysical shift is naturally reminiscent of memento mori. This timepiece, signed by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey themselves, will be realised in a limited edition of only a few pieces per year.

Oceanic Inspiration – MB&F HM 7 Aquapod

We’ve seen how MB&F have made their Horological Machines taking inspiration from outer space, the skies, on the ground and now, as if to complete an all-terrain conquest, they have gone below to the depths of the ocean.
The organic jellyfish-inspired design of HM7 Aquapod is counter-balanced by the very mechanical horology within: a central flying tourbillon tops the concentric vertical movement architecture, with indications radiating out from the centre like ripples in a pond. The timepiece began its gestation as a horological jellyfish, and the architecture of its Engine is appropriately biomorphic. Spherically three-dimensional, all its mechanisms – from the winding rotor at the bottom, past the mainspring barrel and hour and minute displays, to the flying tourbillon on top – rotate concentrically around the centre. Just as the jellyfish is radially symmetric, the Aquapod is also radially symmetric and just as the jellyfish is known to generate its power from food caught in its tentacles, this HM7 generates power from its tentacle-like automatic winding rotor. The HM7 Aquapod has an imposing flying tourbillon regulating the power generated by the rotor, and transforming it into the display of time. The winding rotor’s are crafted from a solid block of titanium; their very three-dimensional nature makes machining and finishing extremely challenging. Underneath the tentacles, a platinum mass ensures powerful and efficient winding. While Horological Machine No.7 is not a dive watch, it is a timepiece comfortably at home in the water, housing a unidirectional rotating bezel. However, unlike every other dive watch on the planet, Aquapod’s bezel isn’t attached to the case, but floats apart like a life buoy. And just like the mysterious jellyfish, HM7 glows in the dark. It glows where you would expect it to – on the hour and minute numerals – but also around the inside of the movement, to light up that flying tourbillon at night… and in addition, along the tentacle-like winding rotor so that its operation, too, can be appreciated in the dark. This 303-component, 72-hour power reserve HM7 Engine was developed in-house by MB&F and will be available in 33 pieces in grade 5 titanium with blue bezel, and 66 pieces in 18K red gold with black bezel.

Ignited Complication – Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia

Pursuing the path of extreme intricacy known to the watchmaker’s tradition, Vacheron Constantin now presents the Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, a timepiece with 23 complications set on twin dials. 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, which displaying 23 complications on its twin dials. This ‘heavenly phenomenon’ is one of the most complex ever made by the brand and heir to a proud lineage of astronomical timepieces. A remarkable feat of miniaturisation and engineering, the new Vacheron Constantin Caliber 3600 – an integrated movement comprising 514-part while measuring just 8.7 mm thick – controls more than 20 functions and has a three-week power reserve. This unique timepiece equipped with a wealth of astronomical complications united within an incredibly small area represents an impressive sum of knowledge, calculations and fine adjustments. Its captivating functions notably feature the triple-time civil, solar and sidereal displays powered by three distinct gear trains, including a “tropical” gear train dedicated to all the solar functions. To measure and display the difference between civil and solar time, this timepiece is equipped with a complex and refined equation of time mechanism. Moreover, the latter is also a ‘running’ equation of time, a kind rarely seen in wristwatches and indicating solar time by means of an additional coaxial pink gold minutes hand adorned with a cut-out sun. The equation of time is generally displayed by a hand moving across an auxiliary sector with a scale running from +14 to -16 minutes and requiring a bit of mental arithmetic to check solar time. The running equation of time is far more complex to create and enables instant readings of solar and civil times. To ensure exactitude and precision, Vacheron Constantin has adjusted it to a tropical gear train simulating the tropical year, meaning the time the Earth takes to make a full turn around the Sun and corresponding to 365.2421898 days.

Visionary Refinement – Ulysse Nardin InnoVision 2 

It can easily take up five full pages to delve into this Ulysse Nardin stunner in all its tiny but innovative details. It picks up where the InnoVision 1 left off in terms of raising the bar with another set of ’10 Innovations.’ 
The Maison has been moving away from the traditional sense in watchmaking for some years now, and the InnoVision 2 once again demonstrates how the watchmaker is relentless at re-shaping the horological landscape. On one hand, this can be seen in the fundamental design features, such as the self-winding mechanism, the oscillator, the escapement and the time display. On the other hand, there is the use of ground-breaking materials and state-of-the-art production technologies. Ultimatley, this timepiece features ten innovations in totality. Among them are the dual constant escapement, direct silicium bonding, stabilizing micro paddles and a silicium balance wheel with gold mass elements. Similarly, the InnoVision 2 also features a sapphire-coated silicium bridge and also three-dimensional glass minute hands. To show-boat even more, the gear wheels, that are usually in brass, are all laced with 24-carat hard gold. There is no doubt how the current essence of the Ulysse Nardin Research and Development team’s comprehensive expertise is wholesomely captured by the InnoVision 2.

Defying Conventions – URWERK UR-T8

When it comes to challenging the ordinary, few can achieve what UWERK can accomplish. This is not just a wristwatch but a unique one at that. Also, this timepiece is one stunning way to celebrate the marque’s 20-year-old birthday. This curious-looking timepiece is an emblem of quirkiness yet a solid reminder of UWERK’s skill at bedazzling the senses. It is URWERK’s first transformable watch which requires a series of precise actions to unlock the case from its cradle, to have it flipped over and return with a neat click. This UR-T8 is the biggest and most expressive carousel layout by the independent watchmaker that makes it a complex timepiece. Working on a self-winding system, it also houses a complex planetary gearing that moves a set of wheels, screws and jewel bearings into a fluid working movement. This timepiece ultimately represents 20 years of UWERK’s method of defying convention in time indication as well as mechanical elegance. Or as Felix Baumgartner told some journalists recently, “Our UR-T8 is a milestone in the story of URWERK. Our first 20 years were dominated by the wandering hour; the rest of the story has yet to be written for there are so many areas we have still to explore. It’s now the time to turn a page and we want to do it with style,” The UR-T8 is available in a series of 60 pieces in natural titanium or black PVD coating.

Sophistication Reigns – Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time

As far as Swiss watchmaking goes, Jaeger-LeCoultre are no push-overs and this time around, the watch maison has decided to flaunt its expertise by crafting a 100-piece flying tourbillon special. This is a timepiece made specifically for those who love fine watchmaking. This is the first timepiece to feature a world-timer and a flying tourbillon in one handsome movement. The case is forged from solid platinum and works out a 43.5mm diameter size and 11.24mm in height. A flattened depiction of the world map is laid out in a familiar blue lacquered guilloche. The outer ring features 24 cities while the secondary ring outside depicts the 24-hour indication. The stunning flying tourbillon is positioned in the bottom-right quadrant of the dial. Running on the caliber 948 automatic movement, it also has a beautiful 22-carat pink gold winding rotor along with a steady 48-hour power reserve. 42 out of the total 375 components are jewels but the most outstanding component is the Gyrolab balance. A special Jaeger-LeCoultre technology that took over eight years to develop and produce, it is used exclusively in the Geophysic collection and is famous for its rounded h-shape and its high efficiency level of performance to cap off another Jaeger-LeCoultre masterpiece.

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