And yes, reading is what this is all about, for everything is easy and pleasurable to look at on this watch. A single glance and it is clear that Pascal Raffy, owner of Bovet 1822 and Dimier 1738, is an aesthete who aspires to share with enthusiasts his personal vision of refined watchmaking.
The art of theatricality
Exploring unseen territories, taking creative risks to express uniqueness; a philosopher would probably define this as intelligence. Indeed, this penchant has always defined those who have the means to succeed, as Voltaire – a watchmaking enthusiast himself – would have put it.
The talent to transform mechanics into something outstanding has been the signature of the brand since its foundation. Indeed, Bovet 1822 is known for its timekeeping instruments developed for the flourishing Chinese market in the early 19th century.
At the time, the work of craftspeople and watchmakers was already more important than time display. Their skills lied in their ability to turn movements into complex and detailed wholes. The heart of the watch became their priority and, in their expert hands, it felt more like metal lace and a kinetic sculpture at the same time. It was only natural as its good functioning depended – and it still does – on the peaceful and regular ballet of the hands on the dial.
Playing multiple roles
In this sense, the graphic coherence of the Retrograde Perpetual Calendar Virtuoso VII symbolizes the accomplishment of a historian's efforts whose vision seems to be looking at the future even though he is clearly inspired by the past.
Just like Janus, who looked both to the past and to the future, this timepiece features an increasingly rare particularity: a double-faced display. Consequently, it offers the enviable advantage of having two watches in one.
But there is much more than that to this piece. Available in either red or white 18K gold, this great creation has multiple purposes, as it can be worn in different ways. That is, either with the chain, as was the norm in the past with it being discreetly placed on a desk as a table clock, or even on the wrist with an alligator leather strap. What's more, the owner can choose which side of the watch will face the outside world. All of this clearly illustrates this watch’s possibilities. Incidentally, writing about its external parts will require a separate review of its own. Yet, this is not surprising, as timepieces are known as the theater of time. There is also the fact that the staging and the costumes often depend on the appreciation of a piece. But here, the beautifully staged mechanics is savored just like the pleasure derived from easily reading the time and calendar information... perpetually!
When mechanics becomes stage design
Other than its retrograde perpetual calendar complication and its power reserve indicator, a slow perusal of the Amadeo Fleurier Virtuoso reveals mechanical decoration crafted by the master watchmaker with the same attention a stage director would provide. The Virtuoso II (aka Specialty DIMIER 1738) is a hand-wound mechanical caliber (ref. 13BM12-AIQPR) that plays the transparency card. On one side, the 13 3/4 '' caliber providing a five-day power reserve offers a view on the hours displayed on the black lacquered or white caseback and some of the components of the perpetual calendar.
The movement displays hours, minutes and seconds on both sides thanks to a small three-branch seconds-hand. Yet, on one side, it also tells the date, day, month and leap year information thanks to a sapphire retrograde indication on rotating disks. The readbility of these functions was the main concern of the watchmakers in charge of the graphic design of the display – they had to make the indications contrast with the components in the back, which were all hand crafted strictly respecting the principles of Haute Horlogerie.
In this configuration, enthusiasts will easily be able to read the indications that will only have to be reset in the year 2100 or every centurial non-divisible-by-400 year (as stipulated by the calculating rules of the Gregorian calendar established by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582). That, of course, if the watch is regularly wound in due course.
Even though it seems to have a symmetrical assembly at first glance, the caliber in fact plays peekaboo with the eyes and the senses only to hone them more. Thus, purists will notice that when they turn the watch, the dial displaying hours and the power reserve indicator is not on the same level as the dial on the other side. To achieve this original and complicated crafting, watchmakers had to place a secondary gear train to mesh with the primary one when time is set by the crown placed under the bow, as was the custom with pocket watches.
The end note to this timepiece filled with surprises and sporting singular aesthetics is that it draws on its past to write its future. Furthermore, its dynamic design inspired by the brand's history has cleverly used current technical methods to offer easy and intuitive reading of calendar information to fans of perpetual calendars. What could be better than a perfectly readable dial and an easily recognizable piece thanks to its unparalleled aesthetics? If luxury lies in uniqueness, then you are sure to find it here!