The year 2019 is noteworthy for complications specialist Christophe Claret for a number of reasons. Not only is his eponymous brand celebrating its 10-year anniversary, but his Le Locle-based manufacture — where he’s worked on memorable timepieces for brands like Ulysse Nardin, Harry Winston, Maîtres du Temps, among others — has also just reached 30 years of continuous production. To commemorate this dueling anniversary, Claret is honoring the occasion the only way he knows how to: with a new watch.
First seen at SIHH in January, the new Angelico timepiece combines a tourbillon with a long detent escapement and a cable-type fusee transmission system. This combination is a first in wristwatch history and was more commonly associated with the usage of marine chronometers in the 18th century. Not only does the Angelico feature this noteworthy first application, it is further complemented by a jumping dual-time display, a day/night indicator, and a power reserve display to showcase its 72 hours of running autonomy courtest of two parallel-mounted mainspring barrels. All of this fits within the watch’s 45.5 mm diameter.
In the 18th-century, marine chronometers that featured a detent escapement were mounted on gimbals to allow for maximum flexibility which also meant that their construction was extremely sensitive to shocks and lateral impacts making application in a wristwatch practically impossible, until now that is.
In the 18th-century, these timepieces were mounted on a system of gimbals. In the Angelico, in an effort to prevent the detent from being damaged or turning over, an anti-pivot cam works in conjunction with a safety finger mechanism. For Claret fans, you might remember this design from his Maestoso timepieces, but this is the first time it has appeared in a tourbillon-laden wristwatch. To deal with the risks of overbanking the escapement, a flexible thrust bearing fitted on the wheel and connected to the balance absorbs any excess energy. The tourbillon, located near the typical 6 o’clock position, reduces the impact of its inertia by making one full rotation every six minutes. Its carriage is built from titanium; its bridges from aluminum.
In addition to the tourbillon with detent escapement, the Angelico includes constant force delivered by a cable-type fusee transmission mechanism linked to the double mainspring barrel. Rather than go with a chain design like Claret’s contemporaries have favored, the Angelico features a cable made of Dyneema nanofiber. There are two reasons for this. The first is to optimize efficiency by eliminating all the friction between links entailed by a traditional chain. The second is to increase and precisely regulate the power reserve as in the number of times the cable is wrapped around the fusee or the barrel is double that of a system equipped with a chain.
Despite a thinness of just 0.18 mm in diameter, practically equivalent to three hairs, Dyneema nanofiber has the strength to pull a weight of nearly 10 kilos. To further avoid any chance of breakage, the cable is tied and then wrapped around the barrel or fusee twice. This overall robustness serves as a guarantee of the cable’s reliability. At the foot of the barrel fitted with two superimposed springs, the winding of the cable drives the 72-hour power reserve indication, while the “stop work” indication, placed on the fusee bridge, indicates the end of its winding.
The time within both time zones is displayed via a jumping hour display appearing in counters at 5 and 7 o’clock, along with the day/night indication for both time zones. Minutes are displayed by a peripheral hand adorned with a natural ruby on the red gold version, and blue sapphire on the titanium version.
The Angelico wristwatch derives its name from Fra Angelico, an Early Renaissance painter, and is a reference to the continued fascination that Claret has the period’s artistic sensibilities. The Angelico watch is limited to 20 total pieces: 10 in 5N red gold (CHF 238,000), and 10 in grade 5 titanium (CHF 218,000). In addition to the new releases, Claret has announced that he has extended his warranty to period to five years starting with the Angelico.
See the Christophe Claret Angelico at WatchTime Los Angeles on May 3-4 — get your tickets now!
Read our profile of Christophe Claret here.