The 35th Annual America’s Cup gets underway tomorrow, after today’s delay due to exceptionally strong winds in Bermuda. It seems as fitting a time as any to take a look at one of the more exceptional and exclusive nautically-themed pieces recently released by Ulysse Nardin, the Grand Deck Tourbillon. Though the watch first debuted in 2016, UN rolled out a beautiful rose gold edition this year to join the white gold and platinum editions. The level of detail and micro-engineering in this watch is quite astounding really (hence the ultra-limited production and six-figure price tag), and I’m excited to share a closer look!
As the 2017 French Open kicks off, Richard Mille has unveiled the fourth iteration in his headline-grabbing, jaw-dropping “Rafael Nadal” collection. The new RM 27-03 is one of Mille’s boldest looking and most mechanically sophisticated watches yet. It’s main innovation lies in the capacity of its tourbillon calibre to withstand shocks up to 10,000 g’s, but the intense red and yellow hues of its Quartz TPT really make this watch stand out: note only are the colors case an obvious homage to Rafa’s native Spain, the torque-limiting crown is also made of of Quartz TPT and presented in the shape of a tennis ball.
Richard Mille x Rafael Nadal RM 27-03 Tourbillon
Limited edition 50 pieces
Price: 766,800 Swiss francs
From day 1 of the partnership, the watches have been made to resist the forces exerted upon them by one of the world’s greatest tennis players, and this new piece is no exception. Richard Mille focuses heavily on the shock resistance of his watches, but I believe this is his most advanced shock resistance yet, a feat which Mille attributes to countless hours of R&D and testing, particularly ‘pendulum impact testing’ which simulates the linear acceleration that occurs due to sudden movements or shock to the wearer. The ultralight tourbillon calibre sits on a skeletonized unibody baseplate of Carbon TPT; the rapid winding barrel provides an unvarying flow of energy for the full 70 hours of running time. The number of components has been whittled down to as few as possible so as to drive additional weight savings.
You can see the magnificent architecture and finishing of the RM 27-03 caliber. Hand-polished tapered anglage, satin and microblasted surfaces, and other finely finished elements all flow into the dial.
The colorful case is achieved by impregnating fine layers of silica with tinted resin according to a proprietary process (developed in Switzerland by North Thin Ply Technology) that stacks the filaments in layers before heating them to 120 °C. The quartz fibers offer a very advantageous strength/weight ratio, as well as being anallergic and highly resistant to UV rays.
Following the warm welcome given to its premier Resonance watch in rose gold which launched in 2016, Armin Strom extends the limited edition collection with a new stainless steel variant with a dark blue alligator skin strap. In light of the materials and color, and in keeping with its “elemental” theme, Armin Strom dubs this watch the Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance “Water.”
If you are new to this timepiece, let me quickly break it down for you. The Armin Strom “Mirrored Force Resonance” — built around a sophisticated resonating dual regulator system — is the most complicated timepiece that Armin Strom manufactures (and yes they do make tourbillons). The raison d’être of the Mirrored Force Resonance is to display the interesting functionality of the resonant balances while improving the watch’s overall precision. The concept of resonance is basically this: two oscillating bodies in close proximity influence each other and eventually synchronize. The advantages of resonance are three-fold, essentially being 1) advantageous to accuracy, 2) energy efficiency, and 3) rate stabilization (see “Did You Know?” below for more). Of course all this is easier said than done when it comes to watchmaking, which is why “resonance” watches are rarely seen coming out of Switzerland .
And of course, Armin Strom designers opted to place the entire captivating mechanism on full display on the dial side. Dial-side visibility of its calibers and complications is something Armin Strom does as well as anyone, and this watch is no exception.
Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance Water
Limited edition 50 pieces – 54,000 Swiss Francs per
43.4mm x 13mm steel case, manual winding manufacture caliber ARF15
Armin Strom’s caliber ARF 15 has two independent regulation systems that stabilize each other connected by a resonance clutch spring. The two visible, connected oscillators make their revolutions in opposite directions, one rotating clockwise and the other counterclockwise. After winding, the twin balance wheels need approximately 10 minutes to become synchronous. The case band pusher at 2 o’clock resets the luminous twin seconds’ displays to zero, simultaneously resetting the twin balance wheels. Power reserve runs to 48 hours.
Did You Know?
Resonance is a sophisticated and demanding horological technique that has rarely been attempted, let alone mastered in the pursuit of horological accuracy, precision, and rate stability. Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), inventor of the pendulum clock, was the first to discover the resonance of two separate pendulum clocks, while in the eighteenth century Abraham-Louis Breguet demonstrated his mastery of the phenomenon. Since then, only a handful of watchmakers have attempted to harness the effects of resonance, whose advantages of resonance are threefold: 1. A stabilizing effect on timekeeping (advantageous to accuracy). 2. A conservation of energy (think of a professional cyclist riding in the shadow of another cyclist in a racing situation). 3. A reduction of negative effects on timekeeping accuracy due to outside perturbation such as shock to the balance staff, which in turn keeps the rate more stable and increases precision.
An annual favorite that I very much look forward to unveiling every year, this is the new Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon, No. 8. As with last year color variations are being made, limited to 10 pieces each. Harry Winston’s “Histoire de Tourbillon” is of course a collection of limited edition timepieces in which Harry Winston pays its tribute to one of the most revered and complex horological complications. The first Histoire de Tourbillon debuted in 2009, with new interpretations released annually. All the pieces are fairly dramatic and/or otherwise spectacular in their design, utilizing inclined multi-axial, and/or the linking of multiple tourbillons.
This year’s Histore de Tourbillon 8 is no different in its splendor, and again features two-biaxial tourbillons (as with last year’s #7), unified by a spherical differential. Wrap your head around that! Naturally, the two large tourbillon cages feature prominently on the dial where they perform their slow, precise ballet.
Full breakdown, below.
Harry Winston Histoire De Tourbillon 8 Watch
Limited edition 20 piece: 10 in anthracite, 10 in dark grey + red accents
51mm x 17.3mm white gold case, fitted on hand-stitched alligator leather strap with red or black needlework that matches the color of the watch dial
The 51mm white gold case features alternating polished mirror and satin finishes that highlight its various details, such as the three Harry Winston arches located at 3 and 9 o’clock, respectively. The dial’s entire surface area is actually one component, made up of 13 different elements with varying textures and finishes (sanded, grained, satin, honeycomb patterns). The two conical discs, housing the hour and minute displays, are made of aluminum.
The HW4503 caliber measures in at a whopping 43mm in diameter and is equipped with two rapidly rotating superposed barrels, one of which is equipped with a slipping spring, which Harry Winston notes results in “no sensation of disruption when winding the barrels.” and neutralizing the the possibility of applying too much tension by overwinding. Its plates and bridges are also made of titanium.Within the latter, the balance wheel keeps the tempo at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour.
Comprised of 117 components, each biaxial tourbillon weighs no more than 0.76 grams thanks in part to titaniun construction. Each of their two regulating movements operate independently, but are linked via a spherical differential so as to derive a unified time measurement. Every 75 seconds, each tourbillon completes a rotation on a 30-degree inclined axis. Nested within this movement, a second cage turns on its own axis, completing a rotation every 45 seconds.
You can review our past coverage here: