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By Zahra Al-Kateb | May 26 2015
When Pascal Raffy, owner of BOVET 1822 and DIMIER 1738, sets out to develop a new timepiece, he strives to combine the talent of every artisan working on its design and on the manufacture of each component. This vital interaction gives rise to a host of synergies, with each craftsman’s hand enhancing the work of his artisans.
The VIRTUOSO VII Retrograde Perpetual Calendar is no exception, and symbolizes the coherence and culmination of the unparalleled expertise that has driven the company’s workshops for almost two centuries.
The Virtuoso II Specialty Caliber that equips this new timepiece rst appeared in the BOVET 1822 collections in 2014. One year after its memorable arrival on the ne watchmaking scene, it equips no less than six models that illustrate its impressive versatility, devoid of even the slightest technical or aesthetic compromise. After Monsieur BOVET and VIRTUOSO V, presented at the BOVET salon in January 2015, the VIRTUOSO VII takes its place as the third timepiece in the Complications collection imagined and redesigned around this exceptional new caliber. This movement is adapted to the functionalities of the AMADEO® case and is capable of displaying the hours, minutes, seconds and any conceivable complication simultaneously on its two faces.
The perpetual calendar complication is highly sought after by collectors by virtue of the ever-useful information it provides: day, date, month and leap year cycle, with an accuracy that requires no adjustments for 400 years. But specialists also appreciate the dexterity inherent to the production of this complication. For watchmakers hand-adjust the functions resulting from the interactions between each of the movement’s 489 parts. There is poetry in the perpetual calendar’s mechanisms too, where the in nitely small is juxtaposed with the in nite immensity of space that drives time. This drive is regulated in minute detail by the BOVET watchmakers to obtain exemplary chronometry in this movement, whose fastest wheel turns twelve times a minute and whose slowest wheel needs a full eight years to complete a single revolution. The close relationship that Pascal Raffy enjoys with collectors has naturally led to the inclusion of the VIRTUOSO VII in the Amadeo Fleurier Complications collection.
Introduced in 2010, the AMADEO® convertible case system allows the timepiece to be transformed into a reversible wristwatch, a table clock or a pocket watch without the use of any tools. Like the collection’s other models, the VIRTUOSO VII presents two distinct faces on its emblematic case. The rst face displays the hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve, as well as all the indications relative to the perpetual calendar. Traditionally, calendar information is presented centrally on the dial, leaving the hours and minutes to be displayed on the perimeter. Pascal Raffy decided to do quite the opposite. The hours and minutes are therefore displayed on a central dial. Since the human eye is accustomed to interpreting this type of analog display intuitively, reading the hours and minutes poses no problem despite the reduced size.
This left the periphery of the dial free to accommodate the day and month indicators. Their exceptional size and diametrically opposed position allowed for the use of larger inscriptions. To further enhance legibility, the names of the days and months have been printed in white or black (depending on the color of the dial) on sapphire discs. This transparency allows the subtleties of the mechanism to be admired without cluttering the space. In place of jaded apertures, black or white plates now distinctly reveal the name of the current day and month.
The retrograde calendar display is positioned outside, yet concentric to, the hours and minutes dial. For aesthetic reasons and to further enhance legibility, the calendar hand is placed beneath the hours and minutes dial. Only its arrow is visible, appearing mysteriously on a graduated scale.
Finally, the leap year cycle disk, positioned at 12 o’clock, completes the calendar information, mirroring the seconds hand positioned at 6o’clock.
This atypical construction enables the complexity of the perpetual calendar mechanism to be admired together with the exceptional talent of the artisan-engravers who have attentively decorated the tiniest of surfaces.
The second face of the VIRTUOSO VII transports us to an entirely different universe. The hours and minutes dial, off-centered at 12o’clock, gives prominence once again to the movement, decorated here with circular Côtes de Genève centered on the seconds chassis. The seconds chassis is a patented mechanism developed by BOVET, which allows the seconds to be displayed on the same axis and on both sides of the movement, all the while inversing their direction of rotation. This side of the movement also features a seconds hand elegantly positioned at 6o’clock. Finally, a power reserve indicator displays the energy amassed by the barrel spring, which alone provides ve days of autonomy. Available in red or white gold, the VIRTUOSO VII Retrograde Perpetual Calendar offers a black or white lacquered dial. Masters of personalization, the BOVET artisans can also use the full extent of their talent to meet the speci c requests of each collector, should he or she so wish.
By dividing up the seconds to obtain unparalleled chronometry while simultaneously inviting collectors to suspend time, the VIRTUOSO VII Perpetual Calendar represents a piece of eternity as interpreted by Pascal Raffy and the BOVET artisans, in a most noble expression of time.