Baselworld 2013: Harry Winston Opus XIII, the saga continues
The great idea of the initial Opus adventure continues: append the Harry Winston brand to independent watchmakers such as François-Paul Journe - the first from a lineage of twelve others - allowing the exclusively jewellery image to rapidly add a solid reputation in the world of watchmaking complications. Moreover, the approach is win-win as the notoriety of some of the names that have participated to the adventure has risen. This spring in Basel, just after the purchase of the brand by the Swatch Group, the suspense was palpable as everyone was speculating on the identity of the next elected.
The Ludovic Ballouard style
As usual, Harry Winston has succeeded where Apple fails regularly: no leakage until the D-day, where at eight o'clock sharp and before the unfurling of media interest, few privileged, including yours truly, where offered the unveiling in the presence of Ludovic Ballouard, still untouched by weariness.
The Opus XIII is in the image of this independent, a watchmaker whose style is recognizable by its propensity to determine the time by the negation of the bygone moments. In this timepiece where only the balance and escapement are associated with a traditional mechanical watch, innovation is situated mainly in the display that requires a second source of power in addition to the first barrel that feeds the movement. The second barrel provides power for 59 minute hands to unfold every 60 seconds and for those of hours to arm themselves one after the other.
Innovation, astonishment, wonders
Also rather ingenious, the mechanism of the hours follows the principle of the outer ring that works in stages, here every sixty minutes. It rotates the triangle of the elapsed time by 180° so that it disappears under the faceted dome while the next hour appears simultaneously on the outside. A lever makes the edge of the cam fall, to push a rack engaging a pinion that drives the ring. At the 12th hour, instead of disclosing an additional triangle, it drives a wheel connected by a pivot making a sliding valve open to reveal the Harry Winston logo in the centre of the dome.
In 18K white gold, discrete with its 44.25 mm diameter by 13.6 mm thickness, the Opus XIII does not reveal at first glance and under the smoked sapphire crystal the complexity of its mechanism: an extraordinary module. One should not expect an imposing watch.
The Opus XIII is actually relatively complex: fifty-nine spring-jumpers - one for each minute hand - carved from a single piece of steel using the LIGA technology (lithography, electroplating, moulding).
Visible on the back of the timepiece, the HW4101 manual winding caliber of the Opus XIII: 21,600 v/h, 364 components, 242 rubies, two independent barrels armed by pinion switches. Despite its noble gold box, Ludovic Ballouard managed to impose its untreated brass nobility as a very watchmaker signature.
Ludovic Ballouard, independent watchmaker developing under his name timepieces especially popular among collectors of watchmaking excellence, signs the thirteenth chapter of the Opus saga. To view all the OPUSes, the website: