The Opus Chronicles Part II: A Look At The Harry Winston Opus Six Through Ten
Under Hamdi Chatti’s brilliant leadership, four new watchmaking masterpieces were born. In the next phase, Frédéric de Narp pursued a fresh direction.
World-acclaimed watchmaking duo Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey ushered in a new chapter in Opus history under Harry Winston’s new Managing Director, Hamdi Chatti. The French and English pair are not the typical born-and-raised Swiss watchmakers. Chatti sought out the “inventor-watchmakers” for their exceptional and unconventional watchmaking. After a meeting of just 15 minutes, the design duo took on Chatti’s challenge, and within two days they presented some ideas. The watch was off to an auspicious start.
Greubel Forsey’s Double Tourbillon - Opus Number Six
Greubel Forsey's creation was a double tourbillon - a rare feat of watchmaking. In a departure from Harry Winston’s highly stylized precious metal pieces, this watch is all about the movement which takes center stage on the dial. And well it should, with its tourbillons set at a 30-degree angle. The two-level dial provides a view of the tourbillons, whose angle serves to “enable the balance to oscillate constantly in all planes and to achieve a more perfect precision of timing,'' according to the brand.
The hours, minutes, and seconds are displayed on circular counters at 11 o’clock and 2 o’clock. The asymmetrical design of the watch, which so clearly focuses on the movement, adds to its visual appeal. This very atypical timepiece nevertheless integrates beautifully with a case similar in style to Harry Winston’s Ocean Collection. The case holds the double 30-degree tourbillon on a lower level and supports a second level for the time displays. The watch’s red and blue numerals, blue dial, and matching blue alligator strap add to its unique allure. The 18K, 44mm white gold watch was made in a limited edition of six pieces, and its movement is manually wound.
Andreas Strehler's Natural Beauty - Opus Number Seven
It took Andreas Strehler and his team several thousand hours to perfect his Opus, which combines powerful watchmaking and an ingenious display with one of nature’s most beautiful creatures - the butterfly.
“The basic idea was to combine this visible movement with a second dial to display the hours and minutes, in an eight-shaped case,” according to Harry Winston. Strehler, an independent watchmaker, was up to the challenge. Already known in watchmaking circles for his perpetual calendar and Zwei timepieces, he incorporated two separate movements in his Opus. The watch offers a window into its movement with a very visible gear train. Combining form with function, the bridge is ingeniously shaped into a butterfly. The Art Nouveau-inspired lines of the butterfly “literally fills the space and so fascinates that it is hard to draw your eyes away from it,” says the brand.
The watch displays the hours, minutes, and power reserve via a wheel set at 1 o’clock. The indicators are clearly visible and, of course, essential. Because the wheel is relatively small, they don’t detract from the central design. A single pusher activates the time display or power reserve. The mechanism is best described by Harry Winston and Strehler. “The principle applied was that of an alternating display. Instead of the hands turning to indicate hours, minutes, and power reserve, the disk turns, by gently pushing the crown. Press once on the crown-protector and the disk turns to bring the hour numeral opposite the wheel indicator (in the form of a triangle) positioned at 10 o’clock (on the disk). Press a second time and the disk rotates again to align the minutes numeral with the indicator. Press again and the power reserve is displayed.”
The watch was made in a limited edition of just 50 pieces, encased in an 18K white gold case. The case’s design is a direct nod to Harry Winston’s iconic Ocean Collection.
Frédéric Garinaud Steps Into The Digital Age - Opus Number Eight
Hamdi Chatti made another brilliant, if out-of-the-box, choice for Opus Eight. He chose Frédéric Garinaud who was originally trained as a mechanic in the French Naval Academy. His entrance into the watchmaking industry began at Audemars Piguet as a technical office manager. In 2005, he founded la Cellule des Spécialités Horlogères (CSH), a company focused on merging watchmaking tradition with ultramodern design. “Garinaud’s avant-garde designs challenge traditional precepts within the industry,” according to Harry Winston.
So let’s take a look at what he made. It’s a watch with a display inspired directly from digital electronics. In contrast with the ubiquitous quartz digital watches, there’s no battery in this watch - it’s purely mechanical, with a system inspired by a pinboard to give the impression of an electronic rendering. The four-digit hour is displayed on the left, with two digits for the time and two for the AM/PM indicator. On the dial’s right side, minutes appear in a vertical display, in increments of five.
The winding crown is on the left side of the case, while a lever powers the display. Time is displayed on-demand and for only a few seconds thanks to this lever on the right side of the case. The hours, minutes, AM & PM indicators, and the power reserve are always visible on the caseback through their own windows.
Wiederrecht & Giroud’s Diamonds On A Chain - Opus Number Nine
No less ingenious than Opus Eight, Opus Nine draws on Harry Winston’s legacy of the finest diamonds in the world. Designed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and Eric Giroud, the time itself is displayed through Harry Winston diamonds. Two parallel diamond “chains” track the hours and the minutes.
Opus Nine is powered by a robust automatic movement that contrasts with the delicate beauty of the diamonds. But strength is important here - both chains that indicate the time have 33 diamonds individually set, in addition to mandarin garnets that indicate the hours and minutes. Each diamond is baguette-cut, which, according to the brand, is Harry Winston’s signature shape. They rest in invisible settings, another hallmark of Harry Winston, creating “lines of light unfolding across the dial.”
The watch’s sizable 56mm x 48mm, 18K white gold case is a sturdy frame for the diamond lines. Further, it provides a solid 18K white gold divider engraved with Opus 9 between the hour and minute indicators, each in its own sapphire crystal tube. The diamond lines are clearly visible on the caseback, thanks to these tubes, as they make their way around their track. The watch was limited to just 100 numbered pieces, and as with the other Opus timepieces, the designer’s names appear on the caseback.
Jean-François Mojon’s Inspiration From Planetary Movements - Opus Number Ten
Jean-François Mojon was chosen to create the milestone 10th timepiece in the Opus series. The movements of the planets and Mojon’s interest in the space-time continuum inspired the Opus Ten’s design. As described by Harry Winston, the watch “captures the shape and dimensionality of time through the synchronous rotation of circular motions.”
The entire time display orbits around the center wheel, which represents the sun. The watch has individual wheels for the hours, minutes, seconds, and a second time zone, while a linear indication for the power reserve is on the caseback. It achieves a full rotation every 24 hours, with each hour engraved into the black “frame” of the dial. Interestingly, the watch has no bezel to get in the way of observing its mesmerizing movement.
At first glance, the Opus Ten, with its black subdials accented with white gold and a touch of yellow, might seem somewhat uninteresting. To fully appreciate the magnificence of the watch, it’s necessary to see it in motion (there’s a video of it below). The Opus Ten was produced in a limited edition of 100 pieces and has an impressive 72-hour power reserve.
(Images & videos © Harry Winston)