The Case Is Clear: The Rebellion 540 Magnum Tourbillon Sapphire Is Awesome
Dissatisfaction with the status quo is often the seed of change. Nurture a seed long enough with rigid authority and and the seed is likely to sprout into a tree of rebellion.
Rebellion resists authority and seeks to make a new future of its own design.
A common form of rebellion is teenagers rebelling against their parents and the rules of the house. Many times teenagers simply want more autonomy and freedom of choice while the parents wish to maintain control. This dynamic is surprisingly similar to a population’s dissatisfaction with its government or rulers and the resulting refusal to accept that authority.
While the actions taken by both teenagers and populations may vary wildly (sneaking out of the house compared to overthrowing a local police force), the desires are rooted in similar emotions and the yearning to make one’s own situation better.
Sometimes, though, rebellions aren’t even against negative things but rather outdated ways of thinking or creating.
Many artistic styles were born out of rebellious artists creating something new to combat a rigid system of artistic expression that no longer seemed applicable.
In that same way, new products are sometimes created by “rebels” in industries that value tradition over progress. Often these rebels see an untapped portion of a market and race to fill it in a way in which they believe.
This is the case with the independent watch brand Rebellion, the same brand that also has a highly competitive racing team called Rebellion Racing with wins going back over a decade in the GT2, LMP2, and LMP1 series.
Rebellion is also behind the cult classic T-1000, a ridiculously cool watch with a vertical gear train and an incredible 1,000 hours of power reserve.
One of the boutique brand’s latest releases is the incredible 540 Magnum Tourbillon Sapphire, which adds a highly complex sapphire crystal case and boatloads of awesomeness to the previously released 540 Magnum Grand Tourbillon.
First, let’s understand what exactly the 540 Magnum Tourbillon name means.
The movement inside the 540 Magnum Tourbillon Sapphire is a twin-barrel, 14-day giant featuring a very large flying tourbillon that inspired the name of the piece.
The tourbillon is a stout 17.2 mm in diameter; that’s literally the size of a small women’s watch.
If you calculate the circumference of the tourbillon cage, you get 54.03 mm, which can also be stated as 540-tenths of a millimeter. Going with this number, Rebellion found a suitable name to convey the grandness of the tourbillon regulating the Caliber REB-T14 movement.
Moreover, the 540 Magnum is inspired by Rebellion’s racing developments and the materials used there. The flying tourbillon cage, which rotates on a ceramic ball bearing, is made from an aluminum alloy in the sapphire version rather than magnesium as in earlier models.
The bridges and plates are made from titanium in the sapphire crystal version, whereas in previous models they were made from aluminum and carbon. Perhaps one of the biggest inspirations from motorsports, though, is the use of a chain for the power reserve.
On the left side of the movement and rotated vertically are two sprockets and a 46 mm chain comprising more than 180 components. A skeletonized arrowhead is mounted on the chain and displays the power reserve as it moves up or down. This is perfect for a quick glance to see a rough estimate of how much of the potential 14-day power reserve remains.
If you want to know the power remaining more precisely, a second power reserve indicator is found at the right of the bottom sprocket. where there is a cylinder with the number of days listed; half-day marks in between allow for a much more accurate picture of the remaining power.
Displaying the power reserve in two ways isn’t necessary, but given the layout it works perfectly. There is a second skeletonized arrowhead to ensure reading of the more precise power reserve at the bottom left corner of the movement. Micro chains are always favorite features of mine so I am perfectly happy that it resulted in two different types of power reserve indications.
Not just a long power reserve
Based on the construction of the movement, you can even see the second power reserve cylinder from the rear of the movement, which adds to the technical appeal of the movement.
But if this watch was only notable for a long power reserve we would be done; in fact, the 540 Magnum Sapphire is much more than that.
Following the direction of travel from one power reserve to the next, we continue moving right toward the massive 60-second tourbillon and discover a rarely-seen retrograde second hand.
The hand, which pivots almost directly down from the tourbillon axis, sweeps from the bottom of the dial upward, slowly crossing each ten-second indication mark until it reaches sixty and snaps back to zero, beginning again.
I really enjoy a good retrograde second hand as it provides an immediate visual reward that is lacking on anything except for highly complicated watches. Getting to see the hand creep up and snap back in such a short time is awesome, and it provides a nice contrast to the constantly spinning tourbillon.
If we continue our path we arrive back at the sizeable flying tourbillon and can again appreciate its robust skeletonized beauty. It’s impressive at 17.2 mm in diameter, and its size anchors the movement and the “dial,” making it feel rooted to your wrist. After all of those features the rest of the movement looks (relatively) straightforward, with skeletonized bridges and wheels, adding to the industrialized lightweight aesthetic.
The final touch of mechanics on the front side of the watch is a small window between 10 and 11 o’clock, directly above the left mainspring barrel where the conical gear translating the horizontal rotation of the movement to the vertical rotation for the power reserve mechanisms is visible.
This might go unnoticed by some, but it is a detail that I was happy to see, as sometimes small gears like these tend to be hidden underneath more visually impressive things.
The rear of the movement is largely a solid plate with cutouts for the power reserve cylinder and the skeletonized main going train wheels linking to the flying tourbillon. Also visible in this cutout is the snail cam attached to the axis of the flying tourbillon and the retrograde cam follower finger. Together these add that touch of awesome in the retrograde second hand that could easily have just been overlooked during the design phase.
The real reason we’re here: sapphire crystal!
Considering how fantastic the movement is, it wouldn’t surprise if those were all the main talking points, but clearly the 540 Magnum Sapphire has one big feature that I haven’t even yet touched on that takes it into a whole other stratosphere: the full sapphire crystal case.
The previous Magnum cases were made of either forged carbon, titanium, or red gold, and they were cool for different reasons. But the new sapphire crystal case is just straight-up ridonkulous. The case construction requires eight separate components to be machined from solid blocks of sapphire crystal, and this demands multiple steps.
The machining/grinding can only be accomplished with diamond-coated tooling and takes a very long time. And I mean a very, very long time.
The total time to shape the eight pieces of sapphire crystal into the case was 47,600 minutes or 793.3 hours. This equates to 99 business days (if you only work for 8 hours) or just over 33 straight 24-hour days of continual machining and grinding.
And the parts would need to be removed from the machine many times during the shaping process to ensure that they did not have any flaws, cracks, or defects and were still within the tolerances.
Three prototypes were made to ensure that the dimensions and tolerances were acceptable.
Due to the tedious and lengthy process, it took a year and a half to complete a fully finished case. Given that everything is see-through, the number (and color) of materials in and around the watch needed to be considered as well.
The crown is sapphire crystal (because of course it is), but the winding stem and case screws are still steel and titanium. The gaskets were switched to clear silicone, and the strap became a transparent silicone rubber as well, though its end needed an opaque insert for strength and security.
Anything that could be made transparent around the case was, and the case construction was also carefully considered to minimize as much visual interference as possible.
The highly complicated case truly shines . . . or allows light to shine through, makiung for a vibrant edition of the 540 Magnum Tourbillon. The movement and watch appear to glow due to the light bouncing around inside and outside the sapphire crystal case, and since sapphire crystal is rather light, the watch feels lighter than its size might suggest.
The 540 Magnum Tourbillon Sapphire is a spectacular watch, and while we yearn for it, let’s do the breakdown!
- Wowza Factor * 9.85 The movement is enough to get a strong wowza factor, but that case sends it into the big leagues!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 95.3 » 934.573 m/s2 It literally sparkles in your eyes as you gaze through it, if that isn’t lust I don’t know what is!
- M.G.R. * 64.8 Giant tourbillon, retrograde seconds, chain driven power reserve, and tons of skeletonization means a very strong movement geek rating for the REB-T14!
- Added-Functionitis * Mild While it does have two power reserve indications, I can only count it as one added function. Still you will need to pick up some over-the-counter Gotta-HAVE-That cream transparent swelling!
- Ouch Outline * 10.3 Finishing a pot of fondue by yourself when you are lactose intolerant! Fondue disasters come in many varieties, but the overindulgence is the most dangerous for myself. My body might reject that much cheese but I would gladly eat more for a chance to get the 540 Magnum Tourbillon Sapphire on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Sixty seconds or however long you first stare at the chain! I don’t know if my favorite feature is the chain driven power reserve or the retrograde seconds, but packed inside that insane case means only one certainty – I’ll need the Plaza in May!
- Awesome Total * 807 Add the days of power reserve (14) to the number of hours it took to create the sapphire case (793) and the result is an impressively long awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.rebellion-timepieces.com/en/collection-magnum-540-grand-tourbillon.
Case: 46 x 56.7 x 19.6 mm, sapphire crystal with transparent silicone gasket
Functions: hours, minutes, retrograde seconds; dual power reserve
Movement: manually wound Caliber REB T-14 with twin spring barrels for 14-day power reserve; one-minute tourbillon; magnesium-caged tourbillon with 17.2 mm diameter
Price: 1.8 million Swiss francs
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Also published on Medium.