Whenever we talk about Graham watches, either some aviator theme watches or the Chronofighters with the trademark “fast-action start/ stop trigger” beside the crown would subconsciously come to mind. This time round, Graham did something a little unorthodox, and the result is simply out of this world!
Before we start talking about this timepiece, lets allow ourselves to take a concise lesson on a piece of history that dates back around 301 years ago. In 1713, George Graham built a mechanical planetary model and presented it to the fourth Earl of Orrery. It was something extraordinary, and on certain aspects, unprecedented. From then on, the system retained the name, as it is synonymous with the precision and technological marvel that accompanied its predecessor. Bearing that in mind, the Orrery was the inspiration for Graham to create a timepiece as a tribute. Or a homage, as some might put it.
When I first saw this watch, I was immediately awe-struck. This is not a regular timepiece; it is indeed something that is rather extraordinary and profound. It has got a good sense of balance; no doubt it was a rather complicated watch, it is not as messy as one thought it would be. It was designed rather well, which makes this timepiece a little even more special. The contrast between the gold accent and the black dial makes the watch very attractive as well.
The Movement and Complications
The Graham Tourbillon Orrery is powered by the Calibre G1800, featuring a power reserve of 72 hours. This movement is produced by Christophe Claret, specially for Graham. The Tourbillon Orrery was a project between Christophe Claret and Graham; the former was roped in to help out in making the movement for the model planetarium. The finishing of the movement is excellent, and it is adorned with circular “Côtes de Genève” decoration.
The Calibre 1800 features several complications, mostly notably the tourbillon and the mechanical solar system model. The tourbillon, as mentioned, represents the Sun in the planetary system of the watch. It is topped with a diamond, and it is a step back into the past where diamonds were used instead of rubies in watch movements. The tourbillon cage features a intricate design of two phoenix heads facing each other, but I thought it stole the spotlight away from the Tourbillon itself. But having said that, the tourbillon cage adds a nice touch to the watch itself, as it gave the watch a much more classical and baroque feel.
The mechanical solar system comprises of the Sun, Earth, Earth’s Moon, and Mars. The latter three are represented by little markers made from blue sapphire, rhodium, and ruby respectively. These markers represent the movement of the Moon and Mars, relative to the Earth. There is a planet indication corrector at the back of the watch, in which it corrects the movement of the Moon, Earth and Mars every 7 years, 1156 years, and 25 years respectively. Barring that, the indicators are accurate up to 100 years. There are three scales on the dial itself; the hour and minute scale, the Gregorian Calendar, and the Zodiac scale. They are supposed to be read in a counter-clockwise position, and the Earth marker is supposed to the be the indicator for it.
The Graham Tourbillon Orrery is an intriguing watch, and certainly one that challenges the boundaries of haute horlogerie. Inside the 48mm pink gold casing and the sapphire dome crystal lies a watch that does not only tells time, but it also tells the movement and position of both the Earth and Mars. Necessary? Nope. I doubt anyone would be bothered to know the relative positions of these planets, but this had just showcased what Man are capable of achieving in mechanical engineering.
Only 20 pieces of the Tourbillon Orrery are made, and this makes the phenomenal watch even more special. And I couldn’t further emphasize more on how beautiful the watch is. This has got to be one of Graham’s best offerings to the world of horology, in terms of aesthetics and engineering. Period.