The New Bovet Récital 12

12 Hours On The Wrist: The New Bovet Récital 12

We learned many things after test-driving the new Bovet Récital 12. But if we had to choose the most significant takeaway? This piece’s bracelet is a triumph of ergonomics.

By Marco Gabella
Chairman & Executive Publisher

For me, wearing a watch is primarily an ergonomic experience. Is the metal bracelet too heavy? Is it too rigid? How well do the lugs hug the curves of the wrist? Is the case too big to rest comfortably? These are just a few of the questions we ask ourselves when testing out a new watch.

And with the release of its new Récital 12 model, Bovet has not only introduced its first-ever reference on a metal bracelet, but it has done so in a way that ensures these new models offer the level of extreme ergonomics expected in an everyday timepiece.

I had the privilege of having the Bovet Récital 12 introduced to us by the owner and “architect” of Bovet, Pascal Raffy, in the heart of the manufacture, the scenic Chateau de Môtiers. And as you are about to learn, I was so surprised by the Bovet Récital 12 that when I was offered the opportunity to try it for a couple of days, I couldn’t resist.

It’s All a Matter of Choice

The new Bovet Récital 12 collection has three dial options: turquoise, dark blue, or emerald green. Thus, before I could begin the test drive in earnest, I had to select the colorway that best suited my style and needs. Let us consider each in turn.

Of the three, the dark blue dial probably balances the tension between the off-center dial and the watch movement, creating a visual harmony that is further enhanced by the contrast provided by the finishings on the case and bracelet.

Lighter in color than the dark blue option, the turquoise colorway is also more subtle, yet, paradoxically, it also provides a similarly strong visual balance – definitely a killer combo colorway.

However, as pleasing as I found the dark blue and turquoise models, when I picked up the emerald green dial execution, I had an instantaneous emotional connection. Between the intensity of the emerald and how that vivacity is made all the more vibrant by the maison’s signature “Lotus Flower” guilloche, this model reminded me of a Mark Rothko painting; at first glance, the field of color appears crude, devoid of any subtlety, but after a few moments, you’re able to discern the true complexity of its palette.

I had chosen my model: The Bovet Récital 12 Emerald Green.

First Impressions

It was only a few days before I received it (with the bracelet already perfectly adjusted to my wrist size). The test drive had officially begun!

Now for a confession: I told a little fib in the title of this article. Instead of having only 12 hours to test the new Bovet Récital 12, I had 7 days to experiment with it. Begging your pardon, but I could not resist the symmetry of the 12-12 bookends.

My very first impression, formed immediately upon removing the watch from its packaging, was how heavy it was. Or, more accurately, how NOT heavy it was. That is because the case and bracelet were made using grade 5 titanium.

The Récital 12 is a rare example of Bovet using grade 5 titanium for a timepiece. However, it makes sense. Clients and collectors have been asking Bovet for a model on a metal bracelet for years, so if you are going to give the people what they want, you better choose the lightest, most comfortable, and longest-lasting metal you can. Grade 5 titanium ticks all those boxes and more.

The Bracelet

As I said at the start of this article, a wristwatch is, first and foremost, a functional object that, in addition to its duties as a timekeeper, must put a premium on comfort. I am also a great believer in the maxim of great American architect and “father of skyscrapers” Louis Sullivan: “Form follows function,” which means that the purpose of an object should be the starting point for its design.

It is for these reasons that I am so enthusiastic about the Récital 12’s bracelet.

Arguably one of the most comfortable metal bracelets on the market, the bracelet of the Récital 12 took over two years of research to perfect. That is because its whole construction, particularly the articulation between links, confers the perfect ergonomic experience for your wrist.

Moreover, since most people’s wrist circumference fluctuates (albeit minorly) throughout the day, the Récital 12’s bracelet also includes a discreet expansion mechanism (hidden in the folding clasp) capable of automatically adjusting the bracelet’s length up to 3mm.

A highly unusual feature to have built into a bracelet, it is this expansion feature that, for me, makes the Récital 12’s bracelet superior to integrated bracelets.

Three millimeters doesn’t sound like much, but when compared to the unyielding nature of an integrated bracelet, those millimeters are exactly what you need to avoid an unpleasant experience. That is why, by the end of the day, integrated bracelets start to feel a bit like handcuffs, leaving marks on your wrist and causing them to ache.

Stylistically speaking, the Bovet Récital 12’s bracelet, with its expertly executed matte-brushed and polished finishes, complements its 40mm case extremely well. The polished, V-shaped central links are a subtle extension of the brushed and polished surfaces on the case. This is especially true for the bezel, which is concave in construction and polished, as it seems to float above the face yet appears integrated into the bracelet.

The result is that, at times, the bracelet almost looks as if it is integrated into the case.

Finally, the asymmetrical construction of the face brings equilibrium to the design. On the right side of the face, you can see the dial and 7-day power reserve indicator. And on the left side of the face, you can admire the balance wheel, regulating organ, and a portion of the gear train in Bovet’s new movement, the impeccably finished calibre 13BMDR12C2.

The Bovet Récital 12: A Haute Horlogerie Daily Wearer?

When judging the wearability of a watch, the most important factor for me is how long it takes to forget that I’m wearing it.

My wrist is 16.5mm, which, for sure, is bordering on the dainty; however, my (dare I say, tiny) wrist size also means that I am ideally placed to judge how wearable a metal bracelet is. My verdict: Due to its extreme comfort on the wrist, the Bovet Récital 12 is definitely haute horlogerie you can wear every day.

Moreover, as with “sur-mesure” (made-to-measure) suits, the feeling of wearing the Bovet Récital 12 is extremely satisfying because you are not only wearing something refined and luxurious, you are wearing something made to conform to your body (or, in this case, wrist).

From my home garden to a fancy dinner, the Bovet Récital 12 adapted itself as automatically as its bracelet did to my wrist.

Pricing & Availability

Available with dials in turquoise, dark blue, or emerald green, the Récital 12 most certainly deserves a visit to a boutique for a hands-on demonstration of its comfort with refinement. However, with a price of $35,000 (CHF 29,800) each, I suggest you don’t delay because these will be snapped up fast.

For more information, check out Bovet’s website.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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