Amadeo® Fleurier Mechanical Prowess and Artistic Density
Year after year, DIMIER 1738, Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Artisanale, illustrates the extent of its artisans’ talent by developing and manufacturing timepieces that constantly define new criteria of excellence in decorative arts, horological engineering and chronometry. It all started with owner Pascal Raffy’s dream, a spontaneous vision that constantly leads him to design new timepieces. In parallel, a compendium of calibers and complications produced by the Manufacture DIMIER since 2006 and the extraordinary historical heritage of BOVET 1822 defined the future of the Maison and its collections. From that point on, a clear set of specifications was drawn up and a privileged position reserved for innovation and the ideas that emerge during the various stages of development.The caliber destined for the new icon, the Amadeo® Fleurier Braveheart® Tourbillon with 22 days of power reserve, had to redefine the boundaries of chronometry while offering optimal ease of use. This required a long power reserve both to provide a singularly constant force to the regulating organ and offer unparalleled conditions of use.
In addition to incorporating the sum of 193 years of experience, the Braveheart® was designed around one of the main characteristics of BOVET’s modern time-pieces: the Amadeo® convertible case system. This ingenious system, which has equipped all Fleurier collections since 2010, gives two aspects to two sides of the timepiece. Two different, yet harmonious expressions of time, combined with the numerous technical challenges involved in integrating two time displays into an elegant and controlled volume. In 2014, BOVET unveiled its first watchmaking specialty caliber not regulated by a tourbillon – a first in the history of the Manufacturer. Patent number 0169-DI-CH relating to this specialty refers to its double co-axial seconds display mechanism. It went without saying that this patented double co-axial seconds display had to be included in this new caliber, regardless of the difficulty incorporating it into a tourbillon axis. This desire to display the seconds on both sides of the tourbillon carriage constitutes a world first, which naturally led the Manufacture’s technicians to develop the first flying tourbillon of the Manufacture DIMIER history.
The unprecedented tourbillon regulating the Braveheart® immediately captivates the onlooker’s attention and encapsulates the timepiece’s most striking innovations. Its design, architecture and the quality of its finishes prompt as many questions as they do expressions of awe. To achieve this outcome, all the established rules and conventions that normally surround the development of a new caliber were thrown into question. By starting with a clean slate and a mind free from any theoretical constraints or predispositions, Pascal Raffy together with the technicians and the watchmakers of DIMIER’s technical department were able to secure this esthetic, technical and chronometric achievement. It is widely known that in the traditional approach to development, esthetics and chronometry occupy opposing positions and force a compromise: improvements to one are often made to the detriment of the other. The innovations developed by BOVET do not merely concern technical prowess and the functions of its timepieces; they also focus on the processes leading up to them.
It is thanks to this comprehensive method that the esthetics and technical innovation of the Braveheart® tourbillon jointly establish a new definition of watchmaking excellence.
Lightness and transparency have always been essential criteria for BOVET 1822 when developing and manufacturing movements regulated by a tourbillon. The tourbillon carriages produced by BOVET are also the subject of a specific patent, since none of the going-train wheels extend above the carriage, as is usually the case. The use of “three-quarter” plates and bridges, adopted by BOVET since 2012, further accentuates these concepts of transparency and lightness.
To develop the Braveheart®, Pascal Raffy asked the Manufacture DIMIER’s technical department to push back even further the boundaries imposed by this type of regulating organ while still improving the chronometry of the timepiece as a whole. The technicians and watchmakers in charge of this develop- ment thus proposed the flying tourbillon as a solution. A traditional tourbillon moves between two bridges which support the pivots situated at the far ends of its axis, whereas a flying tourbillon pivots on a ball bearing fixed to the lower extremity of its axis, generally located in the plate. Simply adopting the latter solution would have prevented the transparency of the “pivoted” tourbillons already manufactured by BOVET from being achieved; in addition, the weight of the tourbillon carriage represents a sizeable constraint for the ball bearing due to the leverage force established by the height of the carriage’s axis. To counteract these issues, the Manufacture DIMIER technicians came up with an innovative idea: to support the entire carriage in the middle of its axis. As well as halving the leverage force generated by the total height of the axis, this solution enabled the carriage’s weight to be spread over each side of its anchorage point. To achieve this, the escapement was positioned on the lower part of the axis, while the balance wheel and balance-spring occupied the upper section of the axis. This patented mechanism results in unequalled chronometry for a flying tourbillon, and creates an impression – more convincing than ever – of a tourbillon levitating in the extra space provided by the three-quarter plates.
The chronometric improvements obtained by the innovative architecture of the tourbillon carriage are compounded by those originating from a resolutely new balance wheel/balance-spring combination. It is well known that in order to provide optimal adjusting properties, a balance must be as light as possible in its center and the weight determining its inertia must be positioned on its far periphery. A revolutionary, patented felly provided an innovative and effective solution to this thorny issue. First of all, the technical department ruled out the use of a balance wheel in favor of a balance felly made up of three arms, each one bearing a weight to obtain optimal inertia. These weights have an ogive-shaped profile to improve the aerodynamics of the balance.
In the middle of each of these weights is an inertia-block, which allows the equilibrium and dynamic setting of the balance wheel to be adjusted. At this stage of development, the significant mass of the weights at the end of all three arms posed a problem relating to the rigidity of the balance felly. The technicians solved this by giving it a particular, more rigid profile without further compromising the weight.
A balance wheel such as this deserved to be coupled with a hair-spring that enhances its chronometric performance. During a balance wheel’s vibration, a flat balance-spring does not expand concentrically with respect to its axis and therefore creates intermittent balance flaws. The terminal “Breguet” or “Philips” style curves only partially offset this problem. This is why the technicians and watchmakers from DIMIER’s technical department chose to develop and produce a cylindrical hair-spring whose expansion is completely concentric to its center of gravity. The beating heart and guardian of precision in a mechanical timepiece, the hair-spring is also the component that requires the most rigorous knowledge and expertise of chemistry, physics and mechanics. As it has manufactured its own balance- springs since 2006, DIMIER 1738, Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Artisanale, is one of the very few manufactures capable of creating this component. The metal alloy used to manufacture the springs is as complex as the conditions imposed by its production. The various stages of drawing and rolling that give it its rectangular cross section, the winding, the production of the terminal curve, and the counting are all operations carried out at DIMIER resulting in springs whose properties guarantee optimal isochronism. The balance-springs experience acquired by the craftsmen at the Manufacture DIMIER has enabled them to develop a spring with unparalleled performance capabilities. While the chronometric results obtained using a cylindrical spring are remarkable, the manufacture of these balance-springs proves extremely complex. A solution similar to this was already used in the 18th century, particularly for marine chronometry. However, the knowledge of alloys, mechanics and chemistry at the time did not allow for results comparable to those achieved by modern timepieces. Nowadays, the production of these balance-springs requires such expertise that their use remains entirely anecdotal, despite their well-documented performance. The verticality of this balance-spring, meanwhile, led the technical department to design a three-armed tourbillon bridge. Its production requires many hours of work, as well as perfectly mastered technical expertise.
Faithful to the principles of BOVET, this tourbillon carriage and balance wheel/balance-spring constitute a new milestone in the search for absolute isochronism. The entire tourbillon carriage is the subject of three patents, which bear testimony to the innovative spirit of Pascal Raffy while honoring the artisanal production methods that have underpinned BOVET’s success since 1822.
Like all the timepieces in the Grandes Complications collection, the functions and indications of the Braveheart® are intended to be useful and suited to modern lifestyles. The convertibility of the Amadeo® case already constitutes a real complication in itself. Directly interacting with the movement’s complications, it proves that the timepieces developed by BOVET are designed as whole objects rather than as assembled movements, dials and cases. In addition to changing into a table clock or pocket watch without the use of a single tool, the Amadeo® case of the Braveheart® also allows it to be worn as a reversible wristwatch.
As the tourbillon was invented in the days of the pocket watch to compensate for the effects of gravity when the regulating organ was in a vertical position, here it finds unprecedented modern legitimacy. Its reversibility must also have meaning; this is why, following the example of the other timepieces in the Grandes Complications collection, the Braveheart® displays the hours, minutes and seconds on both sides of its movement, harmoniously dividing the rest of its indications between two separate faces.
The first of these two faces seems to possess a single hand, even though it presents three indications. The hours hand, slightly off-centered on the upper part of the movement, is the only hand to cross the surface of the main dial. A triangular index traces the 160° of the minutes sector, and moves back every hour to recommence counting. A second 120° sector acts as the seconds indicator. Here again, there are no hands, but the gently angled and polished ends of the three arms of the tourbillon-carriage bridge alternate every 20 seconds, totaling one minute for every revolution of the tourbillon.
When the timepiece is turned over, another expression of time is revealed. The hours and minutes are displayed traditionally by two hands on an off-centered dial at 12 o’clock. From this perspective, the tourbillon is the center of attention once again. Due to its innovative structure, the tourbillon presents a second, completely unprecedented face. We see the escapement as it has never been seen before: distinctly separated from the balance wheel and balance-spring, yet still perfectly connected to it. More surprisingly still, the seconds are also displayed on this side of the movement, on the axis of the tourbillon carriage. To achieve this feat, the Manufacture DIMIER technicians and watchmakers applied the seconds carriage patent that was unveiled last year with the Virtuoso II watchmaking specialty caliber. The principle of this patent involves displaying a seconds hand on either side of the movement on the same axis, and reversing the rotation of one of these hands so that it turns clockwise. BOVET already demonstrated great innovation when it designed and produced this seconds carriage for its Virtuoso II caliber; it needed to exhibit even greater ingenuity to apply this patent to a flying tourbillon carriage supported in its center. In addition to its features and the absolute symmetry of its indicator positions on either side of the movement, the reversed seconds add an extra touch of magic to the fascinating sight of the revolving tourbillon.
The visual effect of the whole recalls a kaleidoscope: the balance wheel, balance-spring and escapement turn in one direction, while the reversed seconds wheel and hand move on the same axis in the opposite direction.
At the center of the timepiece, the power reserve hand skims over the movement, tracing a wide area. To ensure enhanced lightness, legibility and elegance its scale is metallized beneath the crystal. Driven by a desire for unequalled chronometry, Pascal Raffy included a colossal power reserve in the specifications of the Braveheart®, as the force supplied to a regulating organ is more constant over long periods of time. A true specialist in long power reserves, all of the movements manufactured by BOVET prior to the Braveheart® offered power reserves of five to seven days. The hand of the Braveheart® promises no fewer than 22 days of power reserve. The secret of this phenomenal increase in energy lies, above all, in the strict calculations of the timepiece’s energy efficiency. The aim was to reduce the movement’s energy consumption as much as possible in order to add a limited extra supply of energy which would, in turn, increase its autonomy. The two barrels that store this energy each harbor a 104 cm-long spring, and take up half of the movement’s surface area.
Solving the puzzle of the long power reserve immediately created a new problem for the DIMIER’s technical department: winding. The number of turns of a crown required to wind a movement is logically proportional to the length of its power reserve, which becomes unreasonable for 22 days of autonomy. The technicians, however, were not prepared to let this new challenge disparage their ingenuity and designed a spherical differential gear on the stem of the winding system that enables the gear ratio to be doubled and the number of crown rotations necessary to fully wind the movement halved – all in an extremely reduced space. This spherical differential gear is the subject of the fifth patent specific to this exceptional caliber.
The talent of the DIMIER’s artisans was once again put to the test for another extraordinary feat that involved cutting the double conical teeth of the satellite micro-pinions of this gear which, depending on the versions offered, could be visible through one of the dials.
The technical expertise of the Braveheart® sets new standards of ingenuity and chronometry. Yet, fine watchmaking according to BOVET does not merely involve manufacturing the best timepieces – they must also be the most beautiful. Honoring the tradition of the decorative watchmaking arts has contributed to the Maison’s reputation for almost two centuries. Pascal Raffy perpetuates the unparalleled expertise of his artisans and renders it eternal. As the new emblematic timepiece of the BOVET collections, the Braveheart® offers the noblest demonstration of this new artistic orchestration. Homage must be paid first of all to the work of the master craftsmen.
Each of the 722 components of the movement passes through the expert hands of the artisans of this prestigious workshop, where all the traditional decorative techniques have been mastered to perfection. The decoration of the Braveheart®’s components often requires thirty times more time than that required to manufacture the same, functional component. Chamfering, circular graining, all techniques are used to enhance the precious mechanics of the Braveheart®, down to the rounding off of the curved arms of the tourbillon bridge, which alone requires two days of work and establishes a new landmark in the excellence of the decorative arts.
The meticulous work of the hand-engravers completes this enchanting decoration. Each bridge and plate passes through their hands, as they complete this masterpiece with engraving that is unique to every timepiece. The two barrels are adorned with a symbolic sentence that paraphrases the authenticity certificates accompanying historic timepieces produced by BOVET: “Faictes de mains de Maistres pour servir ponctuels Gentilshommes, ce par quoy attestons longue valeur” (“Born from the hands of Masters to serve punctual Gentlemen, by which we certify enduring value”). This maxim begins on one of the barrels and finishes on the second. For increased legibility and to add a new esthetic dimension, this sentence has been etched using deep engraving: an additional prowess underlining the talent of the Maison’s craftsmen.
The concept of a timepiece as a whole still prevails at BOVET. As such, the decorative arts are not restricted to the movement, and combine to make a harmonious ensemble. Depending on the collector’s preferences, the reversed hand dial can also be manufactured in an unlimited range of noble materials or adorned with a sumptuous miniature painting. Finally, the gem-setting possibilities offered for the Braveheart® utterly defy comprehension. All of the case’s surfaces can be set with baguette- cut diamonds of the highest quality. Both sides of the bow, the entire caseband, the strap fastener and both bezels can also be adorned in this way. Yet Pascal Raffy has gone even further, pushing the Maison’s case constructor to his very limits by requesting the possibility of setting the inside of the case with gemstones too. Consequently, both flanges and the inside of the caseband, which is highly visible around the tourbillon carriage, can also be set with baguette-cut diamonds to ensure absolutely unprecedented elegance.
As usual, the collector can also request any personalization he or she wishes. Whether it involves decorating the movement or the external parts of the timepiece, the technical department and craftsmen of DIMIER will unite to honor every request.
Like all Fleurier collections, the case of the Braveheart® is equipped with the Amadeo® System, the sixth patent, which allows the timepiece to be converted into a reversible wristwatch, a table clock or a pocket watch without the use of a single tool. For even more elegance and prestige, the bolt that frees the mobile bezel is operated by means of a secret push-piece nestled at the center of the crown.
Pascal Raffy and all of BOVET’s craftsmen are setting a new milestone in their quest for perfection with the Braveheart®, lending a new interpretation of their art to the most noble expression of time. As the latest example of the virtuosity that characterizes BOVET, the Braveheart® provides a new definition of watchmaking excellence.