Like many others, I was intrigued by the invitation to see the Maîtres du Temps Chapter Three “Reveal” at this year’s Baselworld watch fair in Switzerland. Only when I finally got a good look at the shrouded-in-secrecy timepiece — the third model in the haut-de-gamme “Masters of Time” collection, which teams up noted independent watchmakers who pool their skills to produce innovative, complicated watches — did I realize the “Reveal” not only referred to the unveiling of the watch, but to the watch’s most interesting function.
The watch’s official name, in fact, is the Maîtres du Temps Chapter Three Reveal. As with the previous two “chapters” in this very high-end series, it is a collaboration of two talented watchmakers — in this case, Kari Voutilainen and Andreas Strehler — under the creative direction of Maîtres du Temps founder Steven Holtzman. Also like the previous models — Chapter One, by Christophe Claret, Peter Speake-Marin and Roger Dubuis, and Chapter Two, by Speake-Marin and Daniel Roth — this one makes clever use of cylindrical rollers to convey information on the dial. But here is where the similarities largely end. The Chapter Three Reveal definitively stands on its own and features not only a complicated movement, but what could actually be called a “dial complication” as well. (Click on watch photos for wallpaper images.)
The concept behind Chapter Three is that of an elegant yet eminently useful travelers’ watch, the watchmakers’ answer to what Maîtres du Temps calls the “compromise between functionality and refinement” that plagues many world-time and calendar watches, whose multiple functions and indications often make for cluttered, hard-to-read dials. The Chapter Three Reveal has indicators for hours, minutes, seconds, date and moon-phase visible at all times on the striking blue dial, which is decorated with a radiating sunray guilloché motif. The small seconds are located at 8 o’clock and the moon-phase indicator (with photo-realistic moon) at 4 o’clock; both subdials sport a Clous de Paris guilloché pattern that subtly sets them off from the main dial and both are marked with tiny nameplates.
What are not apparent at first glance are the watch’s second time zone (GMT) and day-night indicator, both of which are hidden behind panels at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, and displayed on the rollers that have become a Maîtres du Temps hallmark. To see these indications on demand — and here’s where the “Reveal” comes in — the wearer pushes a button set into the crown, which opens the panels to show them simultaneously.
The day/night roller, at 12 o’clock, has engraved, hand-painted icons of the sun and the night sky to represent day and night, respectively. The second time-zone rollers at 6 o’clock — which are set by a pusher at 9 o’clock — are permanently synchronized with the day/night rollers and can be adjusted backward or forward via the crown. The second-time-zone display is a patented system that uses two separate rollers for maximum legibility of the numerical hours: 1 through 6 are on one roller, 7 through 12 on the other. When 6 o’clock becomes 7 o’clock, the first roller slides out of the way to make room for the other one. Since there are only six numerals on each roller, the numerals can be larger and thus easier to read.
All of these functions are built into the Chapter Three Reveal movement, Caliber SHC03, which has the distinction of being the first completely in-house Maîtres du Temps caliber and the first one developed by Voutilainen for any watch brand other than his own. Strehler’s major contributions were the integration of a conical gearing system, which increased the movement’s efficiency, and the mechanism for the opening and closing “reveal” panels, which is actually built into the movement rather than the case. Building the movement from scratch enabled the rollers to be integrated into the movement architecture rather than added on as a space-consuming module. Voutilainen and Strehler also emphasized accurate timekeeping in the movement design, incorporating a Straumann escapement, with a lightweight, energy-efficient escape lever and Breguet overcoil, for regulation.
Like all models in the Maîtres du Temps collection, the Chapter Three Reveal is a limited edition: 50 pieces in white gold ($90,000) and 50 in rose gold ($88,500).
Movement: In-house Maîtres du Temps Caliber SHC03, manual-wind; diameter = 35.6 mm; thickness = 8.2 mm (with dial mechanism); 319 pieces; 39 jewels; 36-hour power reserve; dual mainspring barrels in series; frequency = 21,600 vph; Straumann balance spring with Breguet overcoil and low-mass escape lever; decorated with Cotes de Geneve, perlage, beveling and polished screw heads.
Functions: Central hours and minutes; small seconds; date; moon-phase; hidden day-night display on roller; hidden GMT display on rollers
Case: 18k rose gold or white gold; diameter = 42 mm; sapphire crystals front and back with nonreflective coating; shaped pusher to set hidden time zone; three-position crown with pusher to open/close dial panels; water-resistant to 30 meters; on hand-sewn alligator strap with gold tang buckle
Dial and hands: Blue dial with sunray guilloche; Clous de paris guilloche in subdials; 18k gold hands
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