The Artistry and Style of Bovet’s Tourbillons

The Artistry and Style of Bovet’s Tourbillons

April 16, 2018

A bond formed by history and craftsmanship ties Bovet to the tourbillon. Pascal Raffy, Bovet’s owner, founded his artisanal manufacture for haute horlogerie principally on the creation of superior-quality tourbillon movements and exceptional workmanship and complications. Ensuring peerless regularity in timekeeping, the tourbillon offers choreographed perfection. The expert hands of Bovet’s artisans elevate these tourbillon timepieces into works of art in which substance, form, and culture intersect.

Substance: In 1801, the tourbillon was conceived to counter the effects of earth’s gravity on timepieces kept in a vertical position. This complex mechanism consists of a rotating carriage holding the mechanism regulating the movement, which includes a balance, balance-spring, and the escapement. By rotating, the carriage compensates discrepancies in timekeeping caused by maintaining the watch in a vertical position in a pocket. Bovet watchmakers have worked to further refine this complex mechanical marvel, in order to optimize the timepiece’s accuracy.

Bovet tourbillons take on two different forms, representing two methods of manufacture. The first is the traditional tourbillon, with the carriage held at each extremity by a single bridge. The second is a patented construction for a flying tourbillon. The single bridge holds the tourbillon at the center of its axis and arranges the escapement and balance-spring on both sides of this central point of attachment. This is an innovation that improves chronometric performance and elevates the aesthetic of displaying the escapement and the balance-spring on the two faces of the caliber. It is an essential feature given that numerous timepieces from the Fleurier Collection are fitted with the ingenious convertible Amadéo system, which in a few simple steps transforms a timepiece into a reversible wristwatch, table clock, and pocket watch (men’s models) or pendant watch (women’s models).

Form: Harmonious design and workmanship play a central role in Bovet’s approach to exclusive quality. The exacting quality of the workmanship of each component in the maison’s tourbillon timepiece is a reminder that this is not merely a mechanism for performance. It draws attention to the measure of art applied to ensure that each micron of material is as beautiful and as well wrought as possible.

The Amadéo Fleurier Amadéo timepiece elicits considerable respect when one comprehends the fragile and delicate nature of skeleton movements, particularly their escapements. Traditionally, artisan engravers receive sets of skeleton bridges and plates and decorate their surfaces by following the pressed forms. However, Pascal Raffy and his teams took a different approach to this tourbillon to achieve a high level of aesthetic excellence sacrificing neither the timepiece’s reliability nor its precision-timing performance. The secret of this success was entrusting the skeleton design to both the watchmakers (for the technical aspects) and to artisan engravers. By incorporating technical constraints into their considerations, the artisan gave the plates and bridges the shape of their pressing so that these would perfectly match the Fleurisanne motif later engraved onto the surface of each component.

The Virtuoso VIII 10-day big date flying tourbillon condenses the craftsmanship and authenticity as defined by Pascal Raffy. The steel is chamfered and polished. The disk plates are sunk and chamfered. The two faces of the plate are chased with an extremely delicate motif, contrasting with the surface of the bridges decorated with the emblematic Fleurisanne engraving. The bridge of the tourbillon carriage is crafted in titanium to reduce the weight of the carriage and eliminate any possible magnetic charge. Its two arms, spreading like wings above the flying tourbillon, are also rounded off and polished according to the best traditions of fine watchmaking.

A 7-day tourbillon with precision moon phase, the Récital 9 Miss Alexandra is Bovet’s first timepiece graced with a feminine, oval-shaped case. The construction of the movement between two three-quarter plates offers ample space for the tourbillon carriage. The large bridges of the tourbillon carriage appear to offer a wide smile. Normally positioned on the upper pivot of the tourbillon carriage, the second hand is replaced by a diamond whose facets create sparks of light on the movement’s polished surfaces as the hand sweeps around.

Joining the astronomical themed family of the Récital 18 Shooting Star, the Récital 20 Astérium presents a 10-day flying tourbillon equipped with a night-sky annual calendar with astronomical functions. The maison’s engravers chose to decorate the surface of the bridges and plate with refined and delicate chasing. The surface displays the finesse of graining and all the brilliance of a ‘bris de verre’ shattered glass motif. This fine, granular texture contrasts flawlessly against its angular frame and the high-polished contours of its bridges. The movement’s architecture and decoration inspire admiration in its depth and detail, framing the reverse-side sapphire dial, with its highly legible engraving of the night sky and the sapphire rear dial, and an opportunity to admire the movement’s architecture and decoration.

For OttantaSei, the 10-day tourbillon designed in collaboration with Pininfarina, Bovet sought the light. The plate underpinning the entire movement highlights the fine balance between lightness and superior structural strength. Half a day of machining and electro-erosion is required to create a single plate. The craftsmen from the decoration workshops require a full day to achieve the level of finish demanded. Because the magic of watchmaking is inherently three-dimensional, both sides of the plate and its sides are chamfered.

Culture: The independence with which Pascal Raffy has endowed his maison, results in truly original fine watchmaking design in which technical and aesthetic qualities prevail. Benefitting from a high level of integration, Bovet independently manufactures traditional balance-springs, balances, pallets, and all components required for the creation of an exhaustive range of tourbillons.

The tourbillon excels only when conceived, manufactured, decorated, assembled, adjusted and integrated into a caliber with utmost care. For Bovet, the sum of this expertise rests upon individual mastery of every step of watchmaking from the first to the last, and upon a vision conceived by Pascal Raffy to make every Bovet tourbillon a watchmaker’s work of art.