What does one do for an encore after winning the Aiguille d’Or at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve in 2018? Bovet, whose Grand Récital timepiece took home that prestigious prize, continues shooting for new horological heights, as evidenced by the Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One, which combines a sapphire version of Bovet’s famed “writing desk” sloped case with an array of complications.
The inclined case design of the Brainstorm, conceived by Bovet’s visionary owner Pascal Raffy, is here executed in transparent, crystalline sapphire, a material second only to diamond in its hardness but lighter in weight than titanium. Machining this watch’s asymmetrical case out of this notoriously difficult substance presented Bovet’s watchmakers with an array of technical challenges. The front bezel, case middle, and crystal are entirely made of sapphire, while the back bezel and four attached lugs are machine-cut from grade 5 titanium. The movement, manual-winding Caliber 17DM04-SMP, is visible through another sapphire pane in the back framed by the titanium ring. In an unusual construction that Bovet’s watchmakers chose to emphasize ergonomics, this movement is fastened to the back rather than the middle of the case. Its stepped architecture, with its succession of inclined planes, fits perfectly the V-shaped profile of the sapphire case for enhanced visual appeal and offers a stunning view of the mechanisms from the side.
Bovet’s patented, double-face flying tourbillon, which debuted in Bovet’s 2015 collection, occupies a large aperture at the 6 o’clock position and serves as the seconds display. The hours and minutes, displayed by two golden hands, are positioned off-center below 12 o’clock. Just above these hands is a three-dimensional, hemispherical moon-phase indicator, whose dome follows the curvature of the dial and whose surfaces are engraved and filled with Super-LumiNova on its lower sections. Two circular apertures reveal the current moon phase on two circular aventurine glass plates for a strikingly realistic view of the moon in the starry sky. The big date display, whose sapphire units disk is in full view, appears in a circular window at 8 o’clock, and the watch’s power reserve — an astounding 10 days, despite the plethora of complications, and stored in a single barrel — is revealed in a crescent-shaped window at 4 o’clock.
There are two dials available, one a translucent dome-shaped disk in blue quartz that affords an unencumbered view of the multi-layered movement; the other (pictured), propellor-shaped in black aluminum, with the movement’s details glimpsed through its “blades.” Bovet says that other dial colors will be available on future iterations of the Brainstorm, and buyers will even be able to customize the helix-design dial — for example, to resemble the wheel rims of their most prized classic car. The watch is mounted on a full-skin alligator strap with an ardillon buckle made of 18k white gold; retail price is set at $318,600. And of course, the “Chapter One” in the timepiece’s moniker makes it clear that Mr. Raffy is likely to have more “Brainstorms” based on the writing desk case design in the future.