Haute Time : The Blancpain Retrograde Small Seconds Witel Dial ANh Flinqué EnamD The Breguet Classique Chronome trie 7727

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The Art Of The Dial: The Blancpain Retrograde Small Seconds With Flinqué Enamel Dial

One of the most notable traits of the Villeret line of Blancpain watches is the careful use of space on the dials. Though many watches today have dials marked by an unfortunate tendency towards clutter, Blancpain’s Villeret watches have largely avoided this pitfall; the careful placement of each dial element gives the Villeret watches a kind of openness that’s a breath of fresh air.

One of the most successful watches in the Villeret collection is the Retrograde Small Seconds, which combines a stately formalism with a touch of whimsy in the form of a 30 second retrograde seconds display. This year, Blancpain introduces a new version of this classic from the collection with a richly ornamental flinqué lacquer dial.

Flinqué enamel is a specific form of decorative art combining a translucent coating with guilloche. To prepare a flinqué dial, an artisan uses an engraving machine known as a rose engine to incise a pattern onto the metal surface of the dial. Once engraved, a translucent coating is applied. It’s the combination of a deeply colored translucent surface with the shimmering engraving beneath that gives flinqué dials their special character. The lustrous blue depth of the dial of the Blancpain Retrograde Small Seconds makes it a watch with the allure of classical design—but with a luminous glow that is pure Blancpain.

Powered by Blancpain’s extra flat calibre 7663Q, the Villeret Retrograde Small Seconds with Flinqué Dial also features a serpentine date hand and a corrector located under the lug at 5:00. The use of correctors hidden by the lugs is a Blancpain specialty, allowing a watch’s indications to be reset without cluttering the case with pushers.

The Villeret Retrograde Small Seconds with Flinqué Dial is available in white gold at 40mm in diameter. Price not yet available.

Hertz So Good: The Breguet Classique Chronometrie 7727

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superwatch. No, it’s not faster than a speeding bullet, but it’s close—the new Breguet Classique Chronometrie 7727 is equipped with a special high frequency escapement, beating at a stunning 10 hertz.

Why is faster better? Accuracy in a watch is related to how steadily the balance ticks—the more stable it is, the more accurate a watch will be. Once production begins (expect the watch to start to appear in limited numbers in Breguet boutiques this fall) the Classique Chronometrie is expected to show a maximum daily variation in rate of one second or less.

High-speed escapements need extremely light components. The escapement components of the Classique 7727 are made of ultra light silicon, etched from paperthin wafers using technology borrowed from the semiconductor industry. Since silicon is glass-smooth, no oil is needed in the escapement, contributing to both the longevity and accuracy of the watch.

The Classique has another trick up its sleeve: magnetism. In an ordinary wristwatch, the balance wheel’s pivots sit in ruby bearings, lubricated by a tiny drop of oil. In the Classique 7727, the bottom pivot of the balance is held in place by a powerful permanent magnet—a technology unique to Breguet. Magnets are normally anathema in watchmaking— exposure to a strong magnetic field makes most watches run inaccurately or even stop completely—but the Classique 7727 is immune to the effects thanks to the amagnetic nature of silicon.

Despite its triple threat technology, (fast beat escapement, silicon escapement and magnetic bearings) the company’s founder, Abraham Louis Breguet, would have immediately recognized the watch had he seen it in his heyday in the early 19th century. The coin-edge case fluting, pomme style hands and immaculately executed guilloché finish are all classic Breguet design elements. Price not yet available.

 Its dramatic shape and beautifully finished bridge in the shape of a stylized FM emphasizes the size and underscores the visual dazzle of the watch.

Titantic Twister: Introducing The Franck Muller Giga Tourbillon

Some of Franck Muller’s most important innovations have involved the complication known as the tourbillon–as regular Haute Time readers know, “tourbillon” is French for “whirlwind.” The tourbillon is a device invented more than 200 years ago by the great watchmaker Abraham Louis Breguet as a mechanism intended to solve the problem of the negative effects of gravity on accuracy. Though tourbillon wristwatches today can very well be among the world’s most accurate watches—in recent accuracy competitions in Switzerland, tourbillon watches have swept the field—connoisseurs often favor them as much for their exotic appearance and mesmerizing motion as for their performance.

In such a world, size matters—a larger tourbillon offers a more dramatic and seductive visual display. It was in this spirit that Franck Muller developed the Giga Tourbillon—a watch containing the largest tourbillon ever placed on the wrist.

The Giga Tourbillon’s carriage is enormous; at 20mm in diameter it takes up a considerable part of the case. Its dramatic shape and beautifully finished bridge in the shape of a stylized FM emphasizes the size and underscores the visual dazzle of the watch.

The biggest difficulty for any tourbillon is that in solving one problem—the negative effects of gravity—it creates others, the most notable of which is that it requires very precise construction and a substantial amount of torque. The Giga Tourbillon solves this problem through the use of four mainspring barrels, 16mm in diameter, which run in series and provide not only enough energy to keep the Giga Tourbillon’s carriage rotating, but also keep it running with an astonishing 10 day power reserve.

Originally introduced in Franck Muller’s trademark Cintreé Curvex case, the Giga Tourbillon is also now available in a classically shaped round model. In either form, it’s a breathtaking example of the ongoing evolution of the art of the tourbillon at Franck Muller.

The Giga Tourbillon Round is available in steel at $242,300 and in gold at $264,500.

As The World Turns: The Glasshütte Original Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon

At this year’s BaselWorld, Glashütte Original presented one of the most technically remarkable watches it has ever shown. Those fortunate enough to see the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon were ushered into a special display room at Glashütte Original’s exhibition space for the unveiling of the most complicated watch ever made by the luxury watch brand.

The Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon combines a perpetual calendar with a world time complication, as well as a flying tourbillon. The flying tourbillon is unlike a conventional tourbillon in that it has no upper bridge holding the upper pivot of the tourbillon carriage in place, allowing a more unobstructed view of the rotating tourbillon mechanism.

The perpetual calendar complication is an especially useful complication; it automatically corrects the date for the length of each month, including the addition of February 29 in a leap year. This would be remarkable in and of itself, but in the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon, a world time watch, the perpetual calendar is also coordinated with the world time display—if the owner changes the local time display ahead or behind by a day, all calendar indications change automatically as well.

Perhaps the most amazing of the three complications in the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon is the world time complication. While most world time watches show the time in 24 time zones, the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon shows the time in a total of 37 different time zones—and includes the ability to adjust for winter or summer time in those countries that observe it. The reference cities for each time zone are shown with a three letter IATA airport code in one of two small windows at 8:00 on the dial. The ability of the watch to account for time zones with half hour or quarter hour offsets is handled through a system that allows the hour and minute hands to jump in either half hour, fifteen minute or forty five minute increments as the user changes reference cities.

Since time zones are established by national statute, Glashütte Original will update the time zone disk and mechanism as necessary—and will also place the owner’s home city IATA code on the world time disk if the owner desires.

All this amazing and useful complexity is powered by the Glashütte Original calibre 89-01 with a 72 hour power reserve. The watch has been announced as a limited edition with only 25 pieces worldwide. Pricing not yet available; contact Glashütte Original for availability.