To say that Anouk Danthe and Olivier Leu don’t give up easily would be an understatement. In 2005, they decided to follow their dream to create a new watch brand, which they would call Revelation*. The name was well-chosen as their first timepiece reveals its movement through the dial when the bezel is raised, by means of an Archimedes screw which rotates a polarising disc 90° above a second identical disc to allow light to filter through. With the bezel down, time is displayed as on a classic watch. The second complication has been dubbed the Manège tourbillon. Its energy distributing and regulating organs are mounted on a rotating arm with a counterweight. Needless to say, the very thought of this watch was enough to make any collector’s mouth water.
Back to the drawing board
It was a long four years from theory to practice. When the first prototype saw daylight in 2009, expectations ran high that the watch would be unveiled at Baselworld 2010. But Revelation was conspicuous by its absence at last year’s international watch and jewellery show. It seemed the dream would never be anything more than that…. if it hadn’t been for the sheer strength of character of Danthe and Leu, both determined to see this adventure through to the end.
“There’s a simple explanation,” says Anouk Danthe. “In November 2009, we realised the delivered prototype wasn’t viable. This left us with no choice than to put together an independent team and begin the entire study over again, right from energy efficiency. Prior to that, we spent months retrieving technical data and stocks from our former supplier, which obviously didn’t make things easier. But every cloud has a silver lining, as it meant we could put the project, which was heading in completely the wrong direction, back on track.”
Revelation Tourbillon Manège
A manufacture movement
Anouk Danthe and Olivier Leu swapped their designer’s caps for a project manager hat to oversee the 40 contractors needed to manufacture the 300 or so parts that make up the two complications. In one year, the entire system was revised, backed by mathematical simulations and with the additional constraint of having to work around the existing cases. Two hundred modifications in all were made to the movement, mostly involving the gear ratios and the geometry of the mechanism to introduce a new assembly and adjusting logic. “It’s as though we changed everything without changing anything,” comments Olivier Leu. “And we got where we wanted to be, as we now have an authentic and reliable proprietary movement, made entirely to our design. The watch is presented as two models, one in titanium and one in white gold, of which there will be 15 each. They have a price point of CHF 176,000 and CHF 211,000 [USD 212,500 and 254,750 / EUR 147,650 and 177,000] respectively. This corresponds to prices seen in the 1990s for this level of complication.”
After six years’ hard graft, Revelation can now go out and meet its public through both classic and direct distribution. Anouk Danthe and Olivier Leu already have a stock of ideas for the successor to their first creation. Enough to make Revelation a full-fledged brand.