What timepiece could be better suited to celebrating the 195th anniversary of BOVET than a Big Date Tourbillon?
Beyond its subtle historic allusions, this Virtuoso VIII represents the very essence of the Fleurier Grandes Complications collection as defined by Pascal Raffy himself. So while the DIMIER Collection is designed to showcase the latest advances and innovations in development and technology, the Fleurier Grandes Complications Collection is dedicated to constantly elevating traditional artisanal watchmaking to new heights.
Innovative Concept in Decoration and Display Functions
The Virtuoso VIII is, however, the first timepiece in the Fleurier Collection to reprise an inclined crystal aperture along the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock axis, like the innovative case of the Récital 18 Shooting Star® presented in 2016 and that of this year’s Récital 20 Astérium®. This truly innovative concept creates new perspectives for caliber architecture, as well for the decoration and display of functions. The movement of this new ambassador for the collection also features a number of significant innovations, as well as three of the patents pioneered by the Braveheart® Tourbillon, which was initially presented in 2015. But above all, the Virtuoso VIII is the ultimate expression of the artisanal watchmaking tradition that has been upheld by BOVET since 1822.
4 Criteria for a Bovet 1822 Timepiece
The craftsmen at BOVET know the keywords that govern the development and manufacture of every single timepiece by heart: they are: 1) Reliability, 2) Chronometry and 3) Decorative Arts and where additional indications are displayed by added complications, these 4) must in turn be useful and functional additional indications for regular daily use. The passion and talent of their artisans in developing and manufacturing this Virtuoso VIII are such that each of these four key criteria has won significant acclaim.
The energy of the caliber equipping the Virtuoso VIII is released by a single barrel, which provides over ten days of autonomy while maintaining the oscillations of the balance wheel at 18,000 vph. The flying tourbillon’s groundbreaking structure has also proved its worth both in terms of reliability and chronometric performance. But for the Virtuoso VIII, Pascal Raffy decided to opt for an architecture typical of 19th-century watches, with a full plate and bridges hollowed out into a series of scrolls.
This patented double face flying tourbillon has already demonstrated its full chronometric potential. Its fixed point in the center of its axis together with the distribution either side of the escapement and balance-spring give it a balance that drastically reduces the lever-arm effect and friction at the pivot point. To further improve the performance of this tourbillon, a new regulating organ has been developed and produced by the BOVET 1822 artisans. The pace of the new caliber is set by a variable inertia balance wheel. Six collets driven into the felly of the balance wheel allow for dynamic setting of the utmost precision. The balance-spring has been specifically calculated for this caliber and balance wheel by the outstanding craftsmen at BOVET 1822. It is fixed to the tourbillon bridge by a double-ended mobile balance-spring stud support in accordance with the finest chronometric practices. The hand-finished wheels, traditionally burnished pivots and teeth cut using traditional artisanal methods also improve the chronometric performance of this caliber.
3) Decorative Arts
In 1822, the Bovet brothers took the decorative watchmaking arts to their highest summits. Since 2001, Pascal Raffy has set out to perpetuate this heritage and support the artisans at BOVET 1822 in their pursuit of constantly redefined excellence. The design and decoration of the caliber of the Virtuoso VIII are the ultimate expression of this. Both sides of the plate, for instance, are adorned with bridges whose shapes immediately recall BOVET’s historic pocket watches. The steel is chamfered and polished. The disk plates are sunk and chamfered. The two sides of the plate are also chiseled with an extremely delicate pattern that demanded the utmost skill from the Manufacture’s engravers to achieve a harmonious contrast with the sumptuous surface of the bridges, which are decorated with the emblematic Fleurisanne engraving. The chamfered and polished edges of the bridges artistically frame the Fleurisanne adornments and clearly define the two distinct decorations. The bridge of the tourbillon carriage, meanwhile, is in titanium to lighten the latter and eliminate any possible magnetic charge. These two elegant arms, which spread like wings above the flying tourbillon, were also rounded-off and polished in line with artisanal fine watchmaking traditions. As you would expect, all of these many operations were carried out by hand by the artisans in the BOVET 1822 decoration workshops.
For their part, the dial-makers have showcased the decoration of the movement to perfection by creating two harmoniously arranged dials. The first indicates the power reserve while the second displays the hours, the minutes, and the magnificent big date aperture. In order to conceal only those mechanisms that would otherwise interfere with the timepiece’s legibility, the surface area of the dials has been reduced to a minimum while sumptuous, rounded-off and hand-polished attachments straddle the bridges before anchoring themselves solidly to the movement. Whether the dials feature lavish ivory or black lacquer or precious blue aventurine, the Arabic numerals and their graduations, as well as the shape of their hands, have been directly inspired by the historic pocket watches from the BOVET 1822 collections. The talent, passion and experience of their artisans find their full expression here with such intensity and harmony that the Virtuoso VIII literally commands your attention, captivating the gaze with its multi-faceted splendor.
4) Useful and functional additional indications for regular daily use
For the Virtuoso VIII, this core value primarily concerns its main additional function: the big date. This was designed in such a way that its mechanism occupies the smallest possible surface area while displaying as big a date as possible: two opposing constraints that have been masterfully resolved. It is hard to believe that the diameter of the dial overlooking the big date disks could result in such a sizeable display. The space between the unit disk and hours disk has been reduced to the strict minimum in order to further optimize legibility and enable the use of a single aperture without separating the tens from the units. Regardless of dial choice, the readability of the big date is astounding, efficient and acclaimed. And the watchmakers have not forgotten date correction either: the date can be quickly modified by simply pressing the crown, meaning that wearers of the Virtuoso VIII need not even remove it from their wrists. The tension of the rapid date corrector together with the emblematic positioning of the crown and bow of Fleurier cases at 12 o’clock neatly avoid any accidental date correction.
The seconds display was the subject of similar attentions. Designed with exceptional readability in mind, it makes use of an hour-marker screwed to the carriage wheel. The arrow of the hour-marker overlooks the surface of the ring dial that displays the sixty seconds. The precise readability created by this display is also breathtaking. To achieve this, the seconds dial has to be fixed to the plate during the first assembly operations, which renders the watchmakers’ task even more delicate and makes it impossible to anticipate the assembly of movements before knowing which dials have been chosen by the collector. This is the price we pay for our vision of excellence.
Patented Ingenious Mechanism
In closing, the autonomy surpassing ten days delivered by the single barrel would require meticulous winding had it not been coupled with a spherical differential. The application of this ingenious mechanism and of the tridimensional toothing with multiple gearing of one of its pinions are the subject of two patents. Using this differential halves the number of turns of the crown required to completely wind the spring without increasing either the friction or the force to which the gear is subjected. A true feat indeed, which guarantees both reliability and ease of use.
A Testament to Fine Watchmaking in Limited Supply
A true testament to 195 years of watchmaking history at BOVET, the Virtuoso VIII expresses the quintessence of its values while elevating them to new heights with a sense of harmony that is constantly being perfected. Only 80 movements will be manufactured and fitted in a red gold, white gold or platinum case that can be customized according to the collector’s wishes by the BOVET 1822 artisans.
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