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Unique symbolic piece: the northern and southern poles by Kerbedanz

The Polvs Arcticus, equipped with a double tourbillon GMT caliber, reveals the amazing technical prowess of a tourbillon carriage covered with a half-sphere in translucent 0.1mm thick enamel.

By Joel Grandjean

It didn’t take long for the unique piece (which is undoubtedly the result of some special order) to disappear after the closing of the world's greatest watchmaking fair this spring in Basel. Is it right now on the wrist of an MIP? MIP (Most Important Personalities) is the acronym Kerbedanz uses for its clients due to their close connections to the supreme and the most significant circles of influence. Anyway, it is hard to ascertain what happened to the piece and Kalust Zorik, the brand’s Managing Director, won't tell us either.

0.1mm – technical prowess on a translucent enamel back

The history of the Polvs Arcticus illustrates the uncommon journey of this high-end watchmaking brand based in Neuchâtel (Switzerland), which has successfully managed to combine secular watchmaking art with the most traditional jewelry-making skills. Kerbedanz embodies a tendency for thorough and even extreme customization and a preference for the representation of universal symbols on its dials’ decorations, finishes, and even the architecture of its in-house calibers. Its creations feature references and allusions that are infused with symbols of a sometimes almost-obvious subtlety, forthey turnpieces into maiden journeys.

Kerbedanz Polus Arcticus Kerbedanz Polvs Arcticus

Before we focus on its technical features, including the particularities of its movement and the handcrafting skills that went into the creation of this rare watch, it should be noted that the piece hides a secret. One that is a prowess of miniaturization as well as challenging, and bordering on a great achievement. Indeed, one of the domed half-spheres covers the carriage of one of its tourbillons placed in the North and has a 0.1mm-thick surface with extremely refined reliefs. The barely 0.3mm – including the reliefs – of the surface are treated with translucent Grand Feu enamel. And so, it reveals the amazing poetic clinking of the regulating organ housed in a carriage, which is the particularity of the queen of watchmaking complications. This has never been seen before.

An ultra-complicated caliber that appeals to experts

It is surprising that in every communication or press release Kerbedanz always elaborates on the many handcrafting skills of its people. These cover both decoration and finishes – fine engravers, enamelers with vast experience in the various procedures involved with materials, meticulous and irreproachable jewel-setters, and miniature sculptors.  With surgical and experienced moves, each one of them brings an undeniable added value to the brand’s timepieces, which are only produced in ultra-limited series or in unique pieces. Their work is so riveting that it is almost forgotten that when it comes to mechanical calibers, Kerbedanz watches meet the most demanding standards in Haute Horlogerie.

And so, almost as a digression, it is time to describe the astonishing micromechanical construction housed in the 18K solid white gold case. The caliber was designed, manufactured and produced by Kerbedanz in collaboration with Concepto in La Chaux-de-Fonds – one of the most valued caliber manufacturers in the sector. It is a hand-wound double tourbillon GMT mechanical movement with a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour (3 Hertz). It is composed of 341 parts – some of which are infinitesimally small – and it offers a 72-hour power reserve as well as two tourbillons – north and south.

It also features 46 rubies and 80 tourbillon carriages that weigh 0.42g each.

The aesthetics of the piece is most enthralling due to its luxuriousness, the subtleties of its decorations and the fact that it has been a recurrent topic in the brand's communications in an effort to make it stand out. Yet, the piece’s aesthetics are not given much importance by the greatest collectors. As part of a small circle with unlimited funds at their disposal, they dictate both trends and the survival of some of the Swiss watchmaking brands at the top of the luxury pyramid. An increasing number of these collectors are gradually taking a liking to the exclusive products of Kerbedanz. After all, they have made the brand a fundamental actor of excellent Swiss watchmaking in a short space of time.

Kerbedanz Polus Arcticus Kerbedanz Polvs Arcticus

Symbolic tribute to great navigators

The symbols of the Polvs Arcticus are a reference to the great days of past marine explorers. The 18K solid white gold dial is decorated with seafaring motifs, which form the subtle contours of a navigation compass and an ancient galleon. The half-sphere of the Northern tourbillon represents the terrestrial northern hemisphere seen from the pole, showing the visible parts of continents engraved in solid gold.

The half-sphere of the southern tourbillon features an astrolabe – a measuringinstrument used to make accurate calculations of the time the sun would rise and set or when a celestial body would pass over the meridian. Ancient Greek navigators already knew how to use these instruments to keep track of their location at sea, and that well before the arrival of marine chronometers. Islamic scientists improved astrolabesin the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Kerbedanz Polvs Arcticus is an undeniable invitation to travel. It appeals to those with a sense of adventure and pays tribute to past great marine explorers, their discovering impulses and their memorable achievements. Like a call of the sea, it evokes great contemporary adventures that have happened between the poles, our planet's lines of horizon and geographical borders. As is the tradition with every Kerbedanz watch, it is accompanied by a "Book of Birth" that has been written by a symbolist who swears as much allegiance to Kerbedanz. It is a sort of passageway to the understanding of the piece’s hidden messages.

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