Hotel Beau-Rivage, with its breathtaking vista of Geneva’s lakefront, welcomed us for this meeting with representatives of Bovet 1822. An appointment made early in the year and which would, as always, serve to present the latest timepieces from the brand. It therefore came as something of a surprise to hear Christophe Persoz asking “how much time do we have?” If the answer had been “thirty minutes”, no doubt we would have been sent packing. After all, among the Bovet watches waiting to make our acquaintance was the Amadeo Fleurier BraveHeart, a mechanical and artistic gem that cannot be hurried. Whetting our appetite, Christophe Persoz declared that “in chronometric terms, as a Maison that stays true to traditional watchmaking, hence which does not have recourse to alternative, high-tech materials, I believe we have reached the ultimate limit of what can be achieved and imagined. I don’t see how it would be possible to go any further.”
First on the list for perusal were the Amadeo Fleurier Monsieur Bovet and Amadeo Fleurier Virtuoso V, both equipped with the Virtuoso II calibre, the first movement without a tourbillon regulator to be entirely developed and manufactured by Bovet. Having made its debut last year in two models, it is now set to extend across the collections, with the one exception of the Grandes Complications range, aided by the fact that it was designed to integrate numerous functions. “Last year we equipped 50% of our watches with in-house movements,” commented Christophe Persoz. “We expect to increase this proportion to 75% this year, and probably 90% in 2016. In a word, we are carrying on our vertical integration. When we took over Dimier in 2006, it only manufactured tourbillons. We began by increasing quality, while at the same time developing a new calibre, one that wasn’t a tourbillon. As you can see, it has taken us eight or nine years to get there.”
There was nothing fortuitous about this introduction. The Virtuoso II, which displays hours and minutes on both sides of the movement, features a patented seconds carriage with the unique feature of a double-coaxial mechanism. Seconds are shown on each side of the movement by hands which share the same axis. However, the direction of rotation is reversed. Enough to get the designers of the Amadeo Fleurier BraveHeart movement thinking… with the additional difficulty that this dual display must fit around a tourbillon carriage. A world first. “This is generally how we work,” Christophe Persoz confirmed. “We start out with a drawing or an idea, regardless of its feasibility. Solutions come later. The advantage of this method is that it encourages creativity.”
The decoration lavished on this timepiece does justice to the technical innovations it has inspired.
Bovet’s watchmakers clearly had creativity to spare in finalising this new calibre, codenamed 17BM02AI22J, comprising 722 parts and intended to stretch the limits imposed by the tourbillon while improving timekeeping precision. Without going into detail, certain aspects of this innovative mechanism command attention. First the choice of a flying tourbillon, for transparency. But not any flying tourbillon: the carriage is “held” at the centre of its axis, so that the escapement can be positioned below this fixation point, and the balance and spring assembly above it. A further improvement to the timekeeping precision of this innovative construction comes from the balance wheel itself – Bovet has developed a three-spoked felly balance in aluminium for optimum inertia – and from the in-house manufactured cylindrical balance spring: Bovet is one of just five manufactures producing its own balance springs.
Energy transmission has also come under the spotlight, particularly as Bovet had decided against a constant-force regulator. Its solution takes the form of three-dimensional toothing for more efficient energy consumption and a massive power reserve, bearing in mind that power transmitted to the regulating organ is more constant over time. The Amadeo Fleurier BraveHeart is equipped with two barrels that deliver 22 days of power reserve, and a spherical differential gear thanks to which the watch can be fully wound with just 55 turns of the crown, compared with 30 turns for a standard ETA 2892 calibre having just 42 hours of power reserve. Bovet has filed five patents for the innovations brought to this watch which, insists Christophe Persoz, comes well within the criteria required by any chronometric rating. Needless to say, the decoration lavished on this timepiece does justice to the technical innovations it has inspired. Bovet spent fifteen years bringing its idea to maturity and a further four years to develop the watch, which is a study in the manufacture’s expertise. It will be produced as a limited edition of 80, at a rate of no more than 30 pieces a year.