Animation Innovation: Harry Winston’s Opus 12

The speed of rotation is controlled by an escapement, which needs less energy than a flywheel governor and which provides a sound effect to boot. Harry Winston says that one of the challenges in designing this piece was delivering the right amount of energy necessary for both the precision of the movement and the animation. The solution is that the movement and the spinning hour and minutes hands are fed by independent barrels that deliver different amounts of energy. Both barrels are wound simultaneously, and the twin mainsprings take the same 45 hours to unwind. The movement stops when the energy required for the animation is not sufficient to power it. Each barrel has a slipping spring to prevent breakage due to overwinding. The power reserve of both barrels is shown along an arc in the center of the watch.

Harry Winston Opus 12 dial/crown

Harry Winston Opus 12 side view/crown

A complex module coordinates the hands and their gear trains. Because the outer crown wheel forms what is in effect a wall around this module, the watchmakers had to construct an outside transmission system to connect the winding stem, located at the base of the movement, to the crown, which had to be accessible halfway up the caseband. The solution was a transmission wheel that reverses the direction of winding, and for this reason setting can only be done by advancing the time.

The entire movement consists of 607 parts, including 80 jewels. The watch required 7,500 hours of research and development.

Aesthetically, the Opus 12 bears some resemblance to the Atlas experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry – it’s cool looking. The 18k-white-gold case measures 46 mm (the watch, not the LHC). The complex gearing that drives the hands is obscured beneath a translucent, frosted sapphire ring. The 12 letters in “HARRY WINSTON” mark the hours.

Harry Winston Opus 12 mushroom

Although some prior Opus watches were produced in extremely limited editions, HW will produce 120 examples of number 12, plus an undetermined additional number with diamonds. If you have to ask, the price for the non-diamond pieces will be $258,700.

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