I’ve always been a quiet, curious admirer of Bovet, a historical name that operates independently with an uncommon approach to reinterpreting classical watchmaking.
But It wasn’t until the last two years or so that I’ve really started giving Bovet a more serious consideration, ever since they created more accessible in-house movements that still retain the neo-classical charm and intricacy they’ve built a reputation around. One such example is the recently unveiled 19 Thirty collection, available in two very distinct case configurations.
In many ways, the 19 Thirty collection is as much about celebrating a historical shift of timekeepers from the pocket to the wrist in the 1930s, as it is about Bovet broadening its horizon to more potentially massive appeal.
The Bovet 19 Thirty Fleurier
The first and perhaps more obviously Bovet of the two is the 19 Thirty Fleurier. Housed in a 42mm round stainless steel with a relatively slim profile of 9.05mm (including the domed sapphire crystal), the case stands out for its ornate crown positioned at 12 o’clock, with the strap attachment above it completing the pocket watch look.
And while the case is ultra-classical in design, the dial forms a coherent blend of past and contemporary. Perfectly symmetrical, the open dial features off centered hours and minutes and a partially overlapping small seconds subdial below it. The dial is available in brushed metallic blue, black or ivory lacquer, with a choice of Arabic, Roman or Chinese numerals.
The main plate below is finished with circular côte-de-Genève stripes, with two recessed openings with beveled and polished edges revealing the mainspring barrel on the left, and a power reserve indicator on the right. Around the openings, you’ll find the cursive inscriptions “Pour servir ponctuels gentilhommes” and “Faictes de mains de maistres”, roughly translating to “To serve punctual gentlemen” and “Made by hands of masters”, a whimsical nod to the old-world value Bovet so dearly upholds.
The numerals and hands are directly inspired from the Bovet “Easel” chronometer from the 1930’s, one of the final pocket watches made by Bovet before transitioning entirely to a wristwatch manufacturer. Here however, the numerals and markers are hand-painted instead of applied, and the hands more rounded, an elegant touch for a relatively small dial. The blue dial in particular is quite alluring, with a lot of depth and vibrancy to the finish and color.
The splendid balance of the dial continues through to the case back view. What I especially love about the hand-wound 15BM04 movement is that even though it’s relatively simple in terms of functions, the case back view continues through the balance and harmony you find on the dial side. Entirely conceived and manufactured or “handcrafted” as the dial inscription dictates, the movement features a balanced near-symmetrical bridge layout. Decorated with circular côte-de-Genève stripes, hand-beveled and polished edges as well as blued screws, there’s not much more I could ask for in terms of finish. The movement provides a power reserve of 7 days by means of a single mainspring barrel, which is quite impressive.
All in all, the Bovet 19 Thirty Fleurier ticks all the right boxes for me. And yet, as much as I can appreciate the Fleurier’s pocket watch aesthetic of the Fleurier case, I’m too much of a jeans and plaid shirt kind of guy to over be able to pull one off as tastefully as Pascal Raffy does. That’s where the 19 Thirty Dimier comes in…
The Bovet 19 Thirty Dimier
Yes, the 19 Thirty Dimier essentially the same watch as the Fleurier model of the same name in a rearranged case and dial layout. And yet, it’s so much more.
For the most part, the modern Bovet has produced pocket-watch inspired cases under the Bovet name (most noticeably the Amadeo reversible cases), and more contemporary shapes under Dimier. One could say that the 19 Thirty represents a sort of unification of these two distinct lines in one collection; much in the same way that the 1930s represented a transitional period for Bovet and other watchmakers of the time.
While the steel case retains the 42mm of the Fleurier, it sits slightly higher on the wrist due to the downward-facing lugs. And while the crown isn’t as central a design element as in the Fleurier, it still stands out with its blue sapphire cabochon.
The fact that the hours and minutes dial is at 3 o’clock (which also makes the time easier to read when the watch is tucked under a shirt cuff) gives the dial a much more contemporary look, with its off-center position standing out that much, muting it symmetry.
While the 19 Thirty Dimier comes available with the same dial options as the Fleurier, you’ll notice that the hands are a different shape, void of the romantic curviness of the latter. Instead, the rounded leaf hands are set with photo-luminescent paint for added legibility. Definitely a more modern touch!
I will admit that I found the 19 Thirty Dimier the easier one to wear of the two. I’m not talking about comfort, because the Fleurier case with the strap sitting closer to the case thanks to the bottom bar lug is just as, if not more ergonomic than standard lugs. No, what I mean is that the Dimier is easier to pull off in any situation. The dial is just as enticing in its own way, but the more common case design makes it considerably more discrete.
It’s quite incredible how what is practically the same watch can hold an entirely different kind of appeal to different tastes. With the 19 Thirty collection, I truly feel like Bovet finally has a solid movement and design that is able to please two very different kinds of watch buyers. I sincerely look forward to discovering how Bovet will further develop their non-complicated pieces and all the possibilities the Dimier case can offer.