First Look: The Surprising Movement Of The Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ (Dual Time Zone)
by Ian Skellern
Fabergé: it is one of the world’s most well known and well-respected brand names. But until recently few would have associated Fabergé with fine watchmaking. Especially interesting and innovative fine watchmaking.
That all changed at Baselworld 2015 with the launch of both the Fabergé Visionnaire 1 tourbillon and the Lady Compliquée Peacock, which went on to win the award for best Ladies’ High-Mech watch at the 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (see Fabergé Inaugurates Rebirth With Exceptional Lady Compliquée).
Fabergé is following up its success in 2015 with more interesting watches this year, including a new GMT model called the Visionnaire DTZ (Dual Time Zone), which is set to be presented at Baselworld 2016.
But this article isn’t about the Visionnaire DTZ; it’s about its movement.
Caliber AGH 6924
Fabergé doesn’t do things halfheartedly, and having taken the decision to join the world of haute horlogerie, the brand has no intention of being a bit player. Fabergé complications are conceived to be interesting, useful and surprising, which is easier said than done.
Fortuitously, “interesting, useful, and surprising complications” could well be Agenhor’s tagline. Agenhor is the Swiss movement and complication workshop headed up by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht that has been behind a great number of the most interesting watches of recent years.
Most complications are driven by what is known as modules, which usually consist of an additional layer of mechanics placed on top of a base movement. This extra layer increases the height of the movement, and in so doing increases the height of the whole watch.
Agenhor has a patent on a movement concept that sees the base movement shaped like a wide ring, which allows the development of complication modules to fit in the empty center of the movement. Which means that here the module does not increase the height of the movement.
Fully integrated movement rather than a module
Now, even though the proposed new movement Agenhor was going to develop for Fabergé was to be fully integrated, meaning not a module but a movement developed from the ground up for the sole purpose of just one complication, the team thought it might be interesting to put the complication/indication in the center. That was decision number one.
Decision number two came by determining the complication/indication to incorporate into this new watch. A second time zone (GMT) was selected because it was thought to be useful to potential clients.
All that was left was to work out three things: how to make a central indication readable, because any disk with numerals displaying in the center would be smaller than a disk rotating around the perimeter of a movement (like a date); how to incorporate a surprise (or two); and the small matter of developing and producing a brand–new, reliable movement from scratch.
And there’s one more thing: the movement should have automatic winding for ease of use, but the rotor should not at all hide the beauty of the movement.
Nobody said this would be easy!
Magnification is better from a distance
The team knew that the disk with the second time zone numerals would be relatively small and that some type of magnification was called for. Therefore, specialists in optics at the local university were consulted, and one surprising fact emerged: the greater the distance between the subject and the magnifying lens, the greater the magnification effect.
So Agenhor thought about placing the GMT disk as low on the movement as possible and the magnifying lens as high as possible.
Magnification is of particular importance because not only does a central indication basically halve the diameter of the second time zone disk, but it was decided to have a 24-hour GMT indication to eliminate guesswork as to whether a displayed time is am or pm.
The result is the Fabergé Caliber AGH 6924 featuring the following: a central, instantaneous, jumping second time zone; a second time zone disk located under the movement; a magnifying lens located high above the movement; and “mystery” automatic winding visible on the dial side.
And the surprise? You do not see or even realize that there is a central indication until you look directly down the highly polished central cylinder leading from the magnifying lens to the second time zone disk. As you rotate the watch toward perpendicular to the eye, you see nothing.
And then the central numeral really jumps out. And it looks large and is very legible.
And it is worth noting that the 24-second time zone numerals are all hand-painted on the GMT disk.
A second surprise
That’s not all, though, as there is a second surprise in that the dial-side automatic winding rotor is not at all obvious. It’s a sapphire crystal disk with fine lines radiating out from the center. The viewer may catch a glimpse of something moving, but he or she is not likely to immediately realize what it is.
A third surprise
And that’s still not all, there’s a third surprise. Fabergé is also known for being playful, and in Agenhor the brand has the perfect partner. After winning the Ladies’ High-Mech category at the 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) with the Agenhor-developed Lady Compliquée Peacock, it perhaps comes as no surprise that this particular bird has a special significance to Fabergé.
The Agenhor team needed a fairly complex component to activate the jump hour, which required links to a few different mechanisms . . . including a snail cam. As the snail cam rotates every 60 minutes, it slowly charges a spring lever that powers the instantaneous GMT jump.
Even though this critical component would be largely hidden by the second time zone disk, Agenhor designed it in the shape of a peacock.
And one more surprise
But even that’s not all. That snail cam is “stocked” with ears of wheat so that it looks like the admittedly long-beaked peacock is eating his lunch while he works.
The Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ will launch on March 17, 2016 (the first day of Baselworld), so please stay tuned for updates.
For more information, please visit www.faberge.com. You might also enjoy Fabergé Inaugurates Rebirth With Exceptional Lady Compliquée and Fabergé Pearl Egg: The First Imperial-Class Egg In Nearly 100 Years.
Movement: Caliber AGH 6924 developed exclusively for Fabergé, automatic winding with central, jumping second time zone
Functions: hour, minutes, central jumping GMT (second time zone)
Power reserve: 50 hours
Also published on Medium.