Last week Claret took our breath away with the X-TREM-1, the week before HYT baffled us with the H1 and now Harry Winston seems set to do both with the mesmerizing new Opus 12. Officially unveiled last week at Baselworld, this latest offering from the Opus collection is the celebration of yet another successful partnership with one of the watch industry’s quiet achievers; Emmanuel Bouchet.
The Man Behind The Magic
Before we go into detail about the Opus 12, I think it’s worthwhile to take a moment and talk a bit about the man behind this amazing new creation. Born in Saint-Dizier, France, Bouchet was introduced into the world of watch-making at a young age through members of his extended family already working in the industry.
Inspired by what he saw around him growing up he went on to train as a watchmaker-repairer in Morteau, France, graduating in 1980. With his studies completed he began his career in the family jewellery store headed by his father, whom he eventually succeeded in 1984. He then spent the next 20 years or so selling and repairing watches, as well as restoring antique clocks for the major French national museums.
In 1999, deciding it was time for a greater challenge, he moved to Switzerland and embarked on the exciting adventure that would eventually lead to the co-founding of his company Centagora in 2008 and the commission to the create the Opus 12 thereafter.
But enough about the man, it’s time to shift our attention to the timepiece.
The Opus 12
The first thing that strikes you about the Opus 12 is the dial. The design is highly unusual and to be honest somewhat confusing at first glance. However once you understand how it works, reading the time becomes not only relatively simple but also highly enjoyable.
According to the Brand, the manner in which time is indicated has been inspired by the Copernican Revolution; namely that the inner point remains stationary whilst the outer rotates around it at a fixed speed. Around the periphery of the dial are twenty-four individual hands, although only twelve are ever visible at one time. The longer hands represent five minute intervals whilst the shorter hands (hidden away under the minute hands) represent the hours. Located in the center of the dial are a retrograde five-minute counter, a translucent seconds dial and a power reserve indicator.
So, how does it work? Well the best way to explain is simply to show you the official video from Harry Winston:
As you can see in the video every time the five-minute counter in the center of the dial reaches the end of its journey, the corresponding minute hands on the outer rim of the dial flip accordingly, giving a rather visual display of the progression of time. The real magic happens however at the changing of the hour when the movement executes a very elaborate drill, successively rotating all the hands before displaying the new hour (similar in concept at least to last year’s hugely popular Opus 11 by Denis Giguet).
As you would expect the movement required to animate such a spectacle is hugely complex, featuring over 6oo components including two main-spring barrels, one of which is dedicated solely to the animation of the dial. Despite the significant power demands though the Opus 12 still manages a very respectable 45-hour power reserve.
At 46mm the 18k white gold case is arguably a touch on the large side but that is to be expected given the complexity of the unconventional time display. The brand has indicated that it will release other variations, including at least one with diamonds, and each will be offered as a limited edition of 120 pieces. The price for the model shown at Baselworld is approximately US$260,000.
The Final Word
I continue to be impressed by not only the creativity of Harry Winston but also their ability to identify talented watch-makers year after year who are capable of producing such breath-taking timepieces. The Opus 12, whilst perhaps not as ambitious as the Opus 11, embodies everything we have come to expect from the Opus series; high quality craftsmanship, unconventional complications and a certain sense of playfulness that encourages the wearer not to take themselves too seriously.
For more information please visit the official Harry Winston website: www.harrywinston.com