Last week we showed you a sneak preview of Christophe Claret’s breath-taking new timepiece, the X-TREM-1. Absolutely mesmerizing to behold, the reaction to the teaser video was understandably a mix of excitement and impatience. Well today we can finally give you the full low-down on this radical new invention, sure to be one of the stand-outs at this year’s Baselworld.
The X-TREM Generation
As the name suggests the X-TREM-1 is just the first in a new generation of timepieces from Claret, each promising to be more daring than the last. Created as a not so subtle outlet for owner Christophe Claret’s unrelenting determination to continue to push the boundaries of conventional mechanical watchmaking, the X-TREM collection will seek to integrate scientific fields of research never previously applied in the horological domain in each new piece.
Although it may seem like a bold ambition the reality is that there are few better placed in the industry than Claret who can take the realization of this concept to the maximum extent possible. His demonstrated creativity and ability to be a forward-thinker, coupled with the cutting edge facilities and significant financial resources at his disposal mean that there are very few obstacles that can stand in the way of his success.
The X-TREM-1 is a prime example of this. The initial project, reportedly quite different from the final product, was first proposed to Claret by two Neuchâtel watchmakers; Frédéric Richard and Olivier Randin. After some consideration he decided to acquire the rights and patent and the rest as they say, is history.
X-TREM-1 – The Magic Of Magnets
In characteristic style Claret has set the bar extremely high for himself with the introduction of the first X-TREM timepiece. Unconventional in every sense of the word, the X-TREM-1 introduces the use of magnetic fields – the bane of traditional mechanical watch-making – to aide in the indication of time.
As you can see there are two tiny hollowed steel spheres, isolated within sapphire tubes on the left and right sides of the case-band that seem to float almost mysteriously up and down, accurately indicating the hours and minutes and yet seemingly with no physical connection to the mechanical movement that regulates their routes.
The time display indication – retrograde hours and minutes – in and of itself is actually quite simplistic at the conceptual level. However it is the radical way in which it carries out this everyday function that is truly mind-blowing. This illusion if you will is achieved by the use of precision magnetic fields generated by two miniature magnets moved by cables that in turn control the floating spheres.
The cables are made from an extremely thin and strong woven silk thread more commonly seen in reparative surgery. According to the Brand the resistance of the thread has been tested in the Manufacture Claret on an accelerated-wear simulator corresponding to 60 years of operation.
Developed in conjunction with the School of Business and Engineering Vaud (HEIG-VD) in Yverdon-les-Bains, and a team headed by Professor Besson the magnetic fields have been focused so that they have no effect whatsoever on the mechanisms.
The floating spheres aren’t the only thing competing for your attention though. At the bottom of the case is a flying tourbillon inclined at a 30° angle and fitted with double ceramic bearings to enhance its shock-resistance. It is mounted on a three-dimensional curvex titanium mainplate and has been designed with maximum exposure to the wearer in mind.
To ensure optimum delivery of power across the timepiece the tourbillon movement and the time indication gear trains have each been provided with their own independent energy supply drawn from two separate, hand-wound barrels.
The first is reserved for the tourbillon, the second for the hours and minutes. The timing gear train (first barrel) is regulated by the tourbillon; while the display gear train is regulated by a special escapement that picks up the relevant information from the timing gear train. When one of the gear trains reaches the end of the power reserve of its respective barrel, the escapement interrupts the running of its neighbor.
All told the movement offers a very reasonable 50-hour power reserve between windings.
The Finishing Touch
The distinctive case will be offered in a choice of titanium and white or red gold, or platinum, with each being produced in limited series of just eight per model. As you would expect from a watch of this caliber each piece undergoes the highest levels of finishing. Components are hand-bevelled, flanks are straight-grained, sinks on solid gears are polished and the spokes on open-worked gears are bevelled and polished, screw heads are mirror-polished, and cams, bridges and the tourbillon cage are mirror-polished on the visible side.
At the end of the construction process – performed by one watch-maker throughout – the timepiece undergoes a stringent set of internal testing in the THF (Test Homologation Fiabilité) workshop, after which it earns a certificate guaranteeing its quality and precision.
The Final Word
The X-TREM-1 is yet another triumph for Claret and will further add to his growing reputation as a watch-manufacturer in his own right. Although the execution may appear simple, relatively speaking, the complexity and ingenuity required to make it possible are truly impressive. I applaud Claret for not only having the vision but also the will to take this exciting timepiece from concept to reality.
To find out more please visit the all new official Christophe Claret website: www.christopheclaret.com