The Bovet 19Thirty Fleurier is one of the simpler models in the brand’s universe of ultra-refined, ultra-ornamented timepieces. First presented in steel in 2015, with a relatively ‘simple’ dial and straightforward functions – by Bovet’s standards… – the 19Thirty pays homage to the 1930s when pocket watches migrated to the wrist. The latest model to join the 19Thirty family is this 18k red gold version, which distinguishes itself from the 2015 pieces with its hand-engraved dial. Presented in a 42mm case, the movement offers a robust 7-day power reserve on a single barrel. Could this be Bovet’s interpretation of a daily beater?
Fit for kings and queens
Bovet’s long history is a constant source of inspiration for the brand and its pocket watches and clocks were appreciated in royal courts the world over for their lavish hand-painted or engraved decorations and refined mechanics. Pascal Raffy, who bought the company, explains how the 19Thirty family was inspired by a 1930s Bovet pocket watch known as the ‘easel’. Its nickname was derived from the small extractable stand on the reverse side of the case that allowed the pocket watch to double up as a table clock, a feature that is more associated with the convertible Amadeo family.
Raffy also describes the 19Thirty as an ‘everyday’ watch and once you’ve seen the formidable complications and overall opulence of Bovet’s pieces, you can see why he would choose that adjective. For a taste of some of the more spectacular pieces, don’t miss Frank Geelen’s visit to the manufacture and chat with Pascal Raffy in this video.
‘Everyday’, for some
Obviously the first iteration of the 19Thirty in stainless steel (with a more contemporary Dimier case) conforms more to the idea of an ‘everyday’ watch. This 18k red gold ups the luxury quotient noticeably. The case, with its contemporary 42mm diameter, has a moderate height of 9mm, but as you can see from the pictures, this watch is going to call attention. In addition to its generous diameter, the crown and bow at 12 o’clock are very much a part of the personality of this watch and are meant to be admired. A blue sapphire cabochon nestled in the crown stands to attention while the articulated bow settles against the wrist.
Lucky Number 8
The polished gold bezel frames the spectacular scenery on the dial with its intersecting hours and minutes and small seconds counters. Forming an upside-down figure eight, the symbolism of this number will not be lost on Chinese customers. Hardly a new ‘target’ market for Bovet, the watchmaker was so admired in China in the mid-19th century (so the story goes) that the founder’s surname became synonymous with the word for ‘watch’ in Chinese, known as Bo Wei.
Dials at Bovet are never plain and are often composed of multiple planes and depressions, openworked areas and suspended counters. This model is no exception. Available in either sun-brushed blue or black, the top counter relays the hours and minutes while the smaller counter marks the passing seconds. The circular brushed dial features white Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic ones for the seconds.
Bovet’s simpler watch isn’t… simple! But that’s how special the brand is.
Beneath the time counters, you can see the bridge with delicate hand-engraved Fleurisanne motifs representing foliage, an in-house speciality that Pascal Raffy revived amongst his artisans. The surface texture of the bridge looks grainy – almost sandblasted – and produces a matte surface. Two circular depressions, at 3 and 9 o’clock, add more relief to the scenery: the one at 3 o’clock houses the power-reserve indicator and the one on the right is empty, no doubt placed there for symmetrical reasons. Both bear inscriptions in archaic French. “Pour servir ponctuels gentilshommes” which means, “to serve a punctual gentleman,” and on the other, “Faictes de mains de maistres,” or “made by masterful hands”.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it
Many of Bovet’s richly decorated historic pocket watches are museum pieces today. The high degree of ornamentation on the movement led founder Edouard Bovet to create the first transparent casebacks.
The Fleurier 19Thirty follows this tradition and a sapphire caseback reveals the beauty of this in-house, manual-winding movement. The symmetry on the dial of this Fleurier 19Thirty is also reflected in the movement with the balance cock and centre wheel cock aligned and revealed through two apertures in the bridge. In fact, although it looks like a solid ¾ plate, there is a squiggly line traversing the bridge with apertures revealing other details of the movement.
Because of its high level of vertical integration – with its own movement and dial manufactures – Bovet is currently able to craft about 85% of its calibres in-house. Calibre 15BM04 was designed specifically for this collection, although the engraving on the bridge refers to it as Calibre 10Thirty. Like pocket watch movements, the generous 15 ¾ ligne calibre (35.53mm) fills all the available space and offers an exceptional 7-day power reserve on just one barrel. The finishes are in line with Bovet’s craftsmanship with blued screws, perlage on the mainplate and Geneva stripes arching over the bridges.
I always get the impression that if I were wearing a Bovet (and the correct attire), I could sneak into Versailles with any of the Louis kings holding court and not raise an eyebrow: that’s how luxurious and decorative they are!
As with all Bovet watches, the moment you handle one you know you are looking at something very special indeed. Bovet is all about artistic craftsmanship and sophisticated mechanics and is very much a niche brand for connoisseurs. The Fleurier 19Thirty is the brand’s interpretation of a simple three-hand watch with a robust 7-day power reserve designed for everyday use. I think you’ll agree that there is nothing ‘simple’ about this watch at all with its lavish hand-engraved flourishes and unusual layout.
The only quibble I have is the empty area on the left of the dial, opposite the power reserve indicator. Could it have been used as a date indicator perhaps?
The two Bovet 19Thirty Fleurier models in red gold come with alligator straps to match the colour of the dial and 18k red gold ardillon buckles. The retail price is CHF 29,500. More information at bovet.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.