by Martin Green
While the majority of Swiss watchmakers cater to the masses, Bovet is among the few catering to the individual. Current trends and fashions don’t seem to have any effect on this boutique brand, which creates watches that dominate their own realm.
This has resulted in timepieces that are technically complex and visually tantalizing.
The fact that Bovet is hard to compare to any other brand in haute horlogerie says enough. When asked to describe the brand, I would be inclined to say, “half gentleman, part dandy.” The gentleman half comes from the fact that Bovet is intimately acquainted with the essence of traditional watchmaking: the approach, the finish, the finesse of its technical solutions. It’s all there.
The dandy part comes from the way that the brand keeps its rich history alive. It was trade with Asia that established Bovet in Swiss haute horlogerie, and its models catered to the local tastes and preferences of the Far East.
That resulted in watches very rich in design and details, but profoundly different from the western-based design favored by almost every other Swiss watchmaker.
And I haven’t even mentioned the Amadeo convertible case, which allows owners to turn their wristwatches into pocket watches or desk clocks without the aid of a tool. This adds significant versatility to the Amadeo-line watches, as they can be appreciated in a variety of configurations.
Bovet Virtuoso IX: prime haute horlogerie real estate times two
This is also the case (no pun intended) for the new Bovet Virtuoso IX, a 46.3 mm watch that combines a (double-face) flying tourbillon with two time zones, large date, and a very impressive power reserve of ten days.
And it is here at the size that the Amadeo convertible case has another ace up its sleeve: my wrist, for example, could not accommodate a 46.3 mm watch, but Bovet utilizes a cleverly modified version of what has become known as Vendome lugs, which were patented in 1934 by Louis Cartier (see an explanation of this lug style in Van Cleef & Arpels Pierre Arpels: An Intertwined History).
A side effect of this elegant lug solution is that it allows for larger watches to be worn comfortably on smaller wrists.
Of course, Bovet doesn’t make large watches just for the sake of it; all that space is used to create something exceptional: the Virtuoso IX is a marriage of beauty and functionality.
Virtuoso IX has a so-called regulator-style dial with the hours shown on their own subdial, while the minute hand extends from its traditional place in the center of the dial. The seconds are indicated on the cage of the one-minute tourbillon.
The fact that the date is large, with a bold yet elegant font, seems like a nice addition but is, in fact, a pure necessity to balance the delightful distraction that the stunning blue flinqué dial offers – a flinqué dial comprising eight layers of translucent enamel over a guilloche dial.
Bovet Virtuoso IX: world traveler on its own terms
To the left of the hour dial we find an additional subdial featuring a 24-hour indication. This can be set to any time zone in the world, the corresponding city of which is displayed in the window at 10 o’clock.
Setting this is easy thanks to two lateral correctors on the side of the case. And as it shares the minute hand with the regular time indication, it is a very convenient way to display another time zone, especially since it is immediately clear whether it is day or night there.
While all very convenient, sometimes when you travel it is essential to be in the moment. To achieve that, all you have to do is to simply turn your watch over (another advantage of the Amadeo convertible case), where the stunning visible movement is crowned by two elegant serpent hands also displaying the time.
These gold hands offer a nice contrast to the hand-engraved bridges, whose design is reminiscent of that of historic Bovet movements, which are engraved with a bris de verre motif. After the edges of the bridges are hand-chamfered, they receive a blue CVD coating making the back of the watch just as eye-catching as the front.
At the back, it also becomes clear that the Virtuoso IX receives its ten-day power reserve from a single spring barrel.
As it is a manual-wind watch, this raises the question of whether a prolonged winding time is needed to wind the movement entirely. A little opening through the bridges at 12 o’clock provides insight as to how Bovet solved this: thanks to a patented spherical differential winding system, the number of turns needed to wind the watch is cut in half.
This is not the only technical innovation that gets connoisseurs’ mouths watering; there is also Bovet’s double-face flying tourbillon fixed at its center, which the brand says increases its chronometry because of the reduced lever arm effect.
This is not the only way that Bovet contributes to the accuracy of the movement: the brand also makes its own balance springs, a rather delicate procedure that very few companies possess the skills to do. By individually matching the balance wheel with a balance spring, Bovet further ensures the movement’s best performance.
All of this technical virtuosity is also further testimony that the beauty of the Virtuoso IX goes much further than skin deep.
For more information, please visit www.bovet.com/virtuoso-ix.
Quick Facts Bovet Virtuoso IX
Case: 46.3 x 16 mm, red gold, white or red gold or platinum, Amadeo convertible case
Movement: hand-wound Caliber 17BM04-DFR with one-minute tourbillon, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency, ten-day power reserve, spherical winding
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on tourbillon); large date; power reserve display; second time zone, world time; reversed hand fitting
Price: CHF 230,000
Remark: five-year guarantee
* This article was first published on January 16, 2019 at Bovet Virtuoso IX: Double-Faced Masterpiece Featuring Tourbillon, Large Date, Second Time Zone, World Time, Plus 10-Day Power Reserve With Spherical Winding.