The Bovet Dimier Récital 15: Middle Knows Best
Being in the middle can be a good or possibly bad thing . . . just ask a middle child. He or she will likely tell you both the glorious freedoms exercised and the crushing disinterest encountered. It’s tough to be in the middle, simply because, as one might expect, you sometimes get lost in the crowd.
The first and last, tallest and shortest, oldest and youngest, most complicated and simplest, thinnest and biggest, cheapest and most luxurious, fastest and slowest of anything can get a lot of attention. Those mentioned might also get praised for the theoretically arbitrary designation with which they have been saddled. There are lots of good things that are actually “middlers” that we might forget.
Oreos would be nothing without the Oreo cream in the middle of two chocolate cookies, and neither would a hamburger be anything if it lacked the juicy meat in the middle of two bun halves.
A book is just a couple of pieces of cardboard without all the pages (and the story) in the middle. And nobody should forget that without the Mississippi, the Amazon, and the Nile that the U.S., Brazil, and Egypt respectively just wouldn’t be the same.
So I think it’s clear that some things that fall in the middle of others are anything but second fiddle; if they deserve it, they can be the stars of the show.
It happens in the watch world as well. Sometimes a watch falls in the middle of the thinnest or the most complicated pieces in a collection, and so people might forget to pay proper attention to that one.
I feel like the piece I am discussing today may possibly have been struggling with “middle child syndrome” and deserves to be applauded for the awesomazingatude inside.
The watch I am speaking of is the Bovet Récital 15, a timepiece that was released in the same year as the Récital 12 (the thinnest of the Récital collection) and the Récital 16 (a triple time-zone tourbillon). So it finds itself in the middle of the newest pieces of the Dimier collection.
In my mind, the Récital 15 stands alone as the coolest of these for its functions and displays. Let’s take a look!
First off, there is no such thing as the middle for this watch. The Récital 15 may be placed between two other models in terms of simplicity or complexity, even sharing the base movement from the Récital 12, but it has features unique to this model in ways that make it rather special.
It begins with the jump hour, my favorite “because we can” complication. Of course, I would write about another jump hour! The jump hour, situated at 3 o’clock, is positioned so that it is the first thing you see when you begin to pull up your shirt cuff to check the time. Now this may be a happy coincidence based on movement layout, but it is more than likely that is was conceptual.
The jump hour is actuated by a double star wheel mechanism visible through an opening in the dial. The lacquered ring of the dial covers the rest of the hour disc as it makes its bi-daily rotation.
The cut-away interior of the lacquered ring makes for a great window into the mechanism (you know how much I love clever levers), allowing one to watch the instantaneous jump occurring every sixty minutes.
The next mechanistic masterpiece included is a result of utilizing the jump hour in the first place: a retrograde minute hand. This hand traces 180 degrees of arc on the left side of the lacquered dial where the minute indications are printed.
Inside the window you can view the retrograde cam charging over the length of the hour and snapping back at its peak. This retrograde motion is what aids the jump hour mechanism in making its jump: the charging spring sets the whole thing in motion.
It’s a perfect symbiosis of engineering craftsmanship.
Keep moving left
But what about the seconds? I’m glad you asked, inquiring reader! On the very left side of the dial, at 9 o’clock, a minute register is set around an open gear work. This counts off the seconds should you need to know the time to that precision. The openworking also provides the feel of a tourbillon, but in fact is something I think is a bit cooler.
The second hand and underlying wheel are placed atop another wheel, this one moving in the opposite direction. If you flip over the watch and look at the case back, you will find a secondary indication of seconds, this one also counting off precise seconds. It shares the same rotational axis as the one on the front, but instead of being tied to the wheel on the front, this one is actually rotating in the opposite direction to allow for a true clockwise motion.
This mechanism looks incredibly cool when viewed from the front or back, as the overlaid wheels are spinning in opposite directions reminiscent of some turbine blades. You might remember that Bovet used this configuration in a similar way with the tourbillon cage and a secondary seconds indication on the Bovet Amadeo Fleurier Tourbillon Braveheart (see The Bovet Amadeo Fleurier BraveHeart: Two Brave Hearts Are Better Than One).
While it may be limited in its true usefulness to the wearer, displaying seconds on both the front and back of a watch nevertheless represents a willingness to try some different things that are simply increditastic.
Simplicity in complexity
Despite all the inherent complexity built into this watch – just on the dial side alone – the appearance is rather pared down compared to some of the Amadeo versions or even the Récital 16.
Bovet used restraint on this piece, especially on the dial side, to allow it to be useable and legible. The exposed mechanics are the main indication that this watch is something different. A tiny detail that I found most telling was that a spring mounting position had to be exposed just outside of the main dial ring, poking through to let you know there was definitely more underneath.
The rear of the case helps to display this fact a little better. The secondary seconds indication (actually only a 20-second register with a triple indicating hand) is flanked on the top by what appears to be the center wheel (what would usually be the hour wheel) that is driving the gear train off the mainspring.
On the bottom is the balance wheel, beating at a somewhat leisurely 2.5 Hz (21,600 vph) and maintaining symmetry on the rear.
Next to the balance wheel in the bottom center of the rear is the power reserve indicator, showing what is remaining of the hefty five-day power reserve. It is located in a fan-shaped window with a nicely snailed pattern and a black indicator. To maintain the symmetry of this indication, the movement designers added a window on the top allowing a view of the mainspring, the ratchet wheel, and click.
And, oh boy, we have another new click to love!
This one isn’t a standard click made of a solid chunk of metal and being pushed on by a separate spring. Nope, this one uses what I call a vertical spring leaf that is pushed out of the way as the mainspring rotates, and when the winding force is released it pulls the spring into its teeth. The spring juts at an angle over the top of the mainspring and interacts in a direction that overlaps differently than most. The locking occurs because the spring pawl end would need to lengthen to allow the wheel to rotate.
Basically, it’s a new configuration I haven’t seen in a watch before and I like it!
The rest of the story
Once you calm down after seeing that sweet click system, you notice there are more cutouts in the bridges showing more mechanics and providing another glimpse of the engineering. Always appreciated, this watch it does it tastefully.
When you look at the Récital 15 as a whole, taking in both sides and the decisions made, it really seems to be a well-rounded yet not overdone, complicated timepiece.
I love the jump hour with the retrograde minutes, and that dual seconds mechanism is a touch of excellence that you won’t see in many watches. Superfluous features show up in some watches for sure, but tastefully implemented ones are less common.
As a middle child of the Récital line in the Dimier collection, the Récital 15 deserves another look.
It’s not the thinnest, and it doesn’t feature a tourbillon or multiple time zones or other complications, but it does feature some very interesting mechanics with on par styling in a great package.
It really could be the cream of the Récital Oreo cookie.
Let’s break it down to ground! Get low . . .
Wowza Factor * 9.32 Retrograde minutes, jump hour, dual co-axial seconds. Which wowed you the most!?
Late Night Lust Appeal * 93.2 » 913.97m/s2 Serious force keeping your butt in the seat, staring and drooling into the wee hours of the morning!
M.G.R. * 67.7 A serious movement featuring BWC complications and some interesting add-ons that stand out among Bovet’s other children.
Added-Functionitis * Mild Like many awesomazing pieces, it only has a power reserve as an added function. Still, that calls for over-the-counter-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for this deceptively complex swelling.
Ouch Outline * 12.1 Getting your braces tightened and having to eat Jello for two days! I haven’t dealt with this one since I was a teenager, but I had a moment of remembrance for the unavoidable pain in the mouth. Still, I would gladly sign up for that all over again for a chance to get this watch on my wrist!
Mermaid Moment * Two hour jumps and an extra few minutes to notice the co-axial dual seconds! If you haven’t noticed it after the first two hours, you will shortly. And once you do, you would be calling the florist to reserve your bouquets!!
Awesome Total * 630 Multiply the water resistance (3 bar) by the case diameter (42) and multiply the result by the power reserve (5 days) for a seriously un-middle awesome total!
For more information, please visit www. Bovet.com.
Case: 42 x 12.8 mm, red or white gold
Movement: manual-wind Caliber 13.75-70-001-HSMR – Virtuoso II Spécialité Horlogère
Functions: jump hours, retrograde minutes, co-axial dual seconds; power reserve
Limitation: 100 pieces in each metal