Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One: Design Intent Uncompromised
Product design is hard, but design for manufacturing is even harder.
Designers often work with engineers and use their knowledge of making things while attempting to design objects that won’t change too much as it makes its way closer to the manufacturing process. But any engineer will tell you that design comes second once a product is handed off to the manufacturing engineers.
Every product, every feature, and every single detail needs to be considered, planned for, and optimized for various machines, materials, and processes, with all options weighed against production costs and capabilities.
Often products have a great design, but include a few seemingly stupid features due to manufacturing compromises. These compromises are built in during design to optimize manufacturing because a process is too expensive or delays development.
I can’t keep track of the number of times that I have purchased an electronic appliance, only to find it uses a stale design with obvious problems because the company didn’t want to invest in creating something better (and driving up production costs along with it).
This happens so often that it is much rarer to see a product that genuinely overcomes the clear limitations it might have had and succeeds in creating something new and unique. Apple has famously poured ridiculous amounts of money into solving manufacturing problems just so that its design intent can be maintained, like in the case of the aluminum MacBook body that is fully machined from a solid billet block of alloy with hundreds of tiny, difficult-to-machine holes for the speakers.
In many cases, though, it is infeasible for a company to do what it would really like to because of the investment required, so those companies compromise on features to produce their products more practically and more economically.
Compromises aren’t always the end of the world, but often it is clear that changes had to be made otherwise the product wouldn’t have been produced.
But sometimes, the design intent is taken so seriously that whatever the manufacturing hurdles might be, they are all tackled to achieve the designers’ original vision. When this is the case, the result can be truly incredible.
One of the best horological examples I’ve seen of this recently is the Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One. Bovet often pushes the boundary in case and movement design, but the Brainstorm Chapter One is a particularly good example of keeping the design intent throughout the development process and the result is astounding.
Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One
The new Brainstorm collection is nestled within the already wild Dimier Récital line that sees the most atypical watches from Bovet, though one could easily claim that Bovet itself is atypical. Regardless, the Récital collection is the base for an even more unique piece in the Brainstorm Chapter One, a watch fully embracing the “writing slope desk” case design seen in the Récital 22 Grand Récital, Récital 18 Shooting Star, and Récital 20 Astérium.
In Bovet’s previous sloped cases, the movement was built parallel to the rear of the case, growing in thickness toward the top thanks to a series of steps with the bridges and components, all visible from the dial side.
But the new Brainstorm has a movement that is parallel to the front of the case, angled nine degrees from flat (as is the case’s wedge shape) and causing the cascade of components to go from front to rear. The bridges and plates on the rear side of the movement illustrate this with the movement growing thicker from the tourbillon up to the mainspring, with one bridge having a structure with multiple steps.
This stepped architecture ensures that the movement is at a more direct angle to the wearer, keeping the indications on the same plane and making them even more legible than previous Récital models, which have their indications on different levels up the sloped case. This is a subtle difference, but it increases legibility.
And since the dial is nearly nonexistent because of the movement in full view, maximizing legibility is essential.
The indications do not stand out but flow with the movement as much as possible, the moon phase being the main exception. The main time display is offset and uses either a translucent blue quartz dome (which is surprisingly the more subdued option) or a concave spoked disk of aluminum that is customizable in shape and color.
To the left of the dial just below 9 o’clock is the large date display utilizing two concentric numeral disks rotating underneath a polished ring to highlight the current date.
On the right of the dial and mirroring the date display is the power reserve indication: this is located within an identical ring to the date display and shows the current state of the ten-day power reserve via a blue crescent. Dominating the upper portion of the face, and cut into the time display, is the three-dimensional moon phase indication.
The moon phase indication is a formed by a large domed disk with satin-finished and polished lunar textures separating two aventurine disks perfectly following the contour of the dome and representing the dark portion of the moon during the phases. The display indicates for both the northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously thanks to a horizontal set of aperture rings (conveniently forming an infinity symbol) that provide a symmetry to the moon phase display.
I can see clearly now
The tourbillon fills in the rest of the movement at 6 o’clock, seemingly floating below the movement and adorned with an engraved sun on the cage. It bears no relation to the moon phase display, but adds another nice touch to show that no detail has been neglected. And all of the indications and the movement complexity are highlighted by the standout champion of the Brainstorm Chapter One: its solid sapphire crystal case.
The entire wedge shape of the case has been machined from a solid block of sapphire crystal, forming not a cage, but a shrine for the movement within. The rear of the case (and the lugs) are machined from a single block of titanium and screw to the front of the sapphire crystal case to seal the movement away.
Unsurprisingly, the rear also features a sapphire crystal so almost the entirety of the Brainstorm Chapter One is visible thanks to the expanse of transparent sapphire crystal surrounding the mechanics inside.
The rigidity and stability gained by machining the lugs and case back out of titanium make up for any slightly hidden viewpoint, but I think any perceivable loss is overshadowed by the sight of such a cool movement floating within the spectacular sloped case.
And the movement really does appear to be floating since it isn’t attached to the sapphire crystal itself but to very few points on the case back. The only interaction between movement and case is the winding stem and crown as well as the two correctors for the moon phase and date indications. The sapphire crystal is completely polished and crystal clear, providing a glorious window into the highly detailed and complex mechanics within.
How the movement is fixed within the case is also interesting because, as I mentioned before, the movement plates are parallel to the front of the case, so the mounting had to be off-axis, making the machining much more difficult than if the movement had been designed as previous models.
This detail is yet more evidence highlighting how not compromising the design intent was more important than small but annoying details that could have been avoided if the team had decided to just simplify things.
But simplifying isn’t the point of the Brainstorm: design and mechanical ingenuity are. In fact, this is where the name likely comes from, because the watch represents unique and novel ideas that haven’t been implemented before.
This is also why the watch is named the Brainstorm Chapter One, because there are numerous ideas to explore and future Brainstorm pieces will see other concepts fleshed out and explored.
Being a limited-edition watch that is literally built around the idea of creating something unique and beyond the norm allows the designers to insist that the design intent is respected and maintained. Brainstorms aren’t about practicality or finding a shortcut saving manufacturing costs or time, but instead about stretching the creative legs of Bovet in ways it might not have imagined before.
The Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One is a truly stunning timepiece showcasing the watchmaking prowess and creativity of the people behind Bovet. It follows the tradition of excellence at the brand and pushes horology to new heights, and for that I am giddy to see what future versions might have in store for us. Until then I’ll be in awe of this piece and the design choices made, as well as the manufacturing and watchmaking excellence on display from every angle.
In the meantime, let’s head to the breakdown. And since we can see into the movement from all directions, we only need to break it down in a hypothetical sense!
- Wowza Factor * 9.64 Any movement that is floating in a sapphire crystal case and has visible complications is going to get a big wowza from me!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 96.4» 945.361m/s2 Stunning sapphire crystal case surrounding a mechanical masterpiece makes for a lusting that lasts all night long!
- M.G.R. * 67.9 Bovet is always going to have fairly geeky movements, and with the Brainstorm it’s no different!
- Added-Functionitis * Moderate This watch has three additional complications, and two that are very useful with the other being a very emotional addition. It isn’t sporting a full calendar, chronograph, or a chiming mechanism, so I’d say you need regular-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for a perfectly executed piece of creative horology!
- Ouch Outline * 11.9 Sunburn on one side of your body after a long road trip! Remember kids, apply sunscreen even if you plan on sitting in a car for seven hours: that sun is bound to shine through the windows and make one arm nice and pink . . . and tender. Still, if it wasn’t for the increased risk of cancer, I would probably do it again if it meant getting the Brainstorm Chapter One on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * What a unique movement inside a unique case! I feel like this is a reason to fall head over heels for a lot of pieces, the combination of movement and case design tickling your fancy. This Bovet is a great example of a watch that makes me call my relatives to tell them to save the date!
- Awesome Total * 780 First take diameter of the sapphire crystal case in millimeters (48) and add it to the water resistance in meters (30), then multiply the result by the number of days in the power reserve (10) to get an airy and light awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.bovet.com/timepiece/dimier-recital-26-brainstorm-chapter-one.
Quick Facts Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One
Case: 48 x 15.5 mm, sapphire crystal and titanium
Movement: hand-winding Caliber 17DM04-SMP with one-minute double-face flying tourbillon and ten-day power reserve, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency, spherical winding system
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on tourbillon); large date, hemispheric precision moon phase, power reserve indicator
Limitation: 26 pieces
Price: CHF 295,000
Remark: 5-year guarantee