With such a concentration of technical and artistic talent under one roof, Pascal Raffy – owner of Bovet – can really let his imagination soar when it comes to combining complications and decorating them. The new Virtuoso VII is, in essence, a perpetual calendar with retrograde date, a sophisticated complication in itself but with a characteristic Bovet twist displayed in the original layout of the calendar functions. But there is plenty more: instead of one main dial for the hours, minutes and subsidiary seconds, the Virtuoso VII features two dials, one on the front and one on the back, with a patented double coaxial seconds mechanism. Large expanses of openwork areas mixed with sumptuous green guilloché and superlative finishes are packed into a sophisticated Amadeo case that can be transformed from a reversible wristwatch to a pocket watch and even a table clock. In 2020, the Virtuoso VII collection, which currently hosts models with black and blue dials, is expanded with new limited editions in red or white gold, with exuberant emerald-green or ruby-red guilloché enamelled dials.
The Virtuoso VII belongs to the Fleurier family of watches. However, just for the record, there are two Fleurier families at Bovet: the Fleurier Grandes Complications branch with spectacular complications like the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon and the Virtuoso IX and the Fleurier Complications branch with models like the Virtuoso V jumping hours and retrograde minutes and this Virtuoso VII. To get an idea of what goes on at this independent company and its capacity to create astonishing astronomical complications, don’t miss our video coverage of the manufacture and Frank’s interview with Pascal Raffy.
Original display of Perpetual calendar functions
A complication that offers the day, date, month and leap year cycles, Bovet’s perpetual calendar will require no adjustments for 400 years (if it is kept wound). The perpetual calendar indications for the leap year, day of the week and month are subtly displayed on three central transparent sapphire crystal discs printed with large white inscriptions. When the correct date, month and leap year land on their marker (leap year at 12, day of the week at 9 and month at 3 o’clock), a darker background makes it possible to read the information. This transparency means that the view of the hand-engraved bridges and plates with the characteristic Fleurisanne motifs is still visible. The date is positioned on a silver disc surrounding the central hours and minutes dial and is indicated with a triangular hand that emerges mysteriously from below the central dial. With its retrograde calendar function, the date hand performs a counterclockwise sweep back to 1 at the end of each month.
The centre of the hours and minutes dial and the track of the small seconds counter at 6 o’clock are decorated with a swirling guilloché pattern that echoes the shape of a lotus flower with 12 petals and picked out in a beautiful emerald-green or ruby-red colour obtained with enamel. The white gold Roman numerals and hands contrast well with the green or red background. Traces of this guilloché can also be appreciated on the bridges at either end of the dial where the words Perpetual Calendar and Swiss Handcrafted are inscribed.
Turning the watch over reveals the second face of the Virtuoso VII. Here the hours and minutes are off-centred at 12 o’clock and decorated with the same guillochage pattern and Roman numerals as the main dial. The rest of the dial is given over to the movement with views of the balance wheel and gear train revealed under bridges decorated with circular Côtes de Genève. A power reserve indicator, placed inside a fan-shaped aperture to the left of the off-centred dial reveals the amount of energy left in the barrel. When fully wound, the watch offers a robust autonomy of 5 days/120 hours.
Echoing the position of the small seconds on the main dial, the small seconds carriage on the reverse side is displayed on the same axis all the while inverting the direction of rotation thanks to a patented mechanism developed by Bovet. This means that on each side of the watch, the seconds hand will be turning clockwise. With a conventional mechanism and two hands attached on both sides of a pinion, this would mean that one turns clockwise while the other one, on the reverse side of the watch, would turn counterclockwise. Here, thanks to the patented mechanism, both hands run in opposite directions.
Another patented Bovet invention is the Amadeo® convertible case, one of the most ingenious designs in the watch industry allowing you to transform the reversible wristwatch into a pocket watch and a table clock without the need for any tools. The latest Virtuoso VII comes with an Amadeo case in either 18k red or white gold and has a diameter of 43.50mm and a case thickness of 15.80mm. The characteristic bow at the top of the case and the cabochons in the lugs and crown are not merely decorative. Invisible push-pieces on the cabochons on either side of the bow release the upper part of the strap allowing you to attach the chain to wear it as a pocket watch. By repeating this same operation on the cabochons on the lower lugs, the strap is released and another push-piece on the rear bezel deploys a stand to prop up the case as a table clock.
In 2014, Bovet presented the Virtuoso II calibre. Developed and produced by Bovet’s technicians and watchmakers, the calibre powers many of the brand’s watches – excluding the Grandes Complications. One of the particularities of the calibre is its dual display of hours and minutes on both sides of the movement along with a seconds carriage. Using this hand-wound Virtuoso II calibre as the base, the drive is regulated by hand by Bovet watchmakers for exceptional chronometry. Composed of 489 parts, the fastest wheel of this perpetual calendar turns 12 times a minute while the slowest needs eight years to complete a single revolution. With a frequency of 21,600vph, the movement can store up to 5 days of power reserve.
Availability and customisation options
As with many Bovet timepieces, customisation options are available ranging from miniature painting on the dial to specific hand-engraved surfaces and round or baguette-cut diamond settings in the bezel and lugs.
Both the red gold and white gold Virtuoso VII models with green or red guilloché dials come with a matching alligator strap, white or red gold ardillon buckles depending on the case material and are limited editions of 100 pieces each. The watches are also presented with a gold-plated silver chain for the pocket watch option. The red gold models retail for CHF 79,000, the white gold for CHF 82,000.
More details at bovet.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.