Most watch fans know Graham best for sporty models like the Chronofighter and Silverstone. Now the Swiss brand with British roots establishes its haute horlogerie bona fides with the new Geo. Graham the Moon limited edition, a complicated, astronomical-inspired timepiece with a flying tourbillon and a perpetual moon retrograde function.
The watch, like the brand, is named for 18th-century clockmaker George Graham (1673-1751) who was a contemporary and friend to early astronomers such as Sir Isaac Newton. George Graham incorporated Newton’s theories of gravitation into his horological designs and was fascinated by the moon and its role in the development of timekeeping. Graham also built the master clock for the Greenwich Royal Observatory in London.
The timepiece that bears his name — which is limited to only 20 pieces worldwide — pays tribute to that lunar fascination with its signature feature, a highly precise, perpetual, retrograde moon-phase indication whose cycle is calculated to match that of the moon’s exact synodic period, or lunar month. At the end of each lunar month — precisely 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.9 seconds — the lightweight moon disk, which has been hand-painted by craftsmen in Graham’s workshop in Le Locle, Switzerland, jumps back to begin its next moon-phase cycle. Graham enlisted famed watchmaker Christophe Claret to develop the exclusive double-absorber system that attenuates the retrograde fall to avoid damage to the lunar disk. Once correctly set, Graham says, the watch only requires correction after 122 years, an operation easily accomplished by a single push on the corrector. (Click on watch photos for larger images.)
The movement, Caliber G1769, also has a flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, which rotates on a ball bearing to substitute rolling for sliding friction. The inclusion of a tourbillon is another nod to Isaac Newton, as that invention was originally developed to counteract the effects of gravity on a watch’s precision. Caliber G1769 has manual winding, 29 jewels, an Incabloc shock absorber, and a 96-hour power reserve. It is visible through a sapphire window in the back of the 46-mm rose-gold case.
The blue dial drives home the astronomical theme with 45 diamonds — 34 on the dial, 11 on the painted sapphire bezel — arranged into the constellations Camelopardalis, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor, with the dial’s center representing Polaris, the North Star. The bezel is designed to resemble a view of the starry night sky through a refracting telescope. The skeletonized hour and minute hands are made of the same rose gold as the case, as is the pin buckle on the blue crocodile leather strap. The price of this extremely limited, highly complicated timekeeper is also what many would consider astronomical: $280,000.
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