Unbeknownst to many, the Haldimann watchmaking house harks back to 1642, with the registration by Hans Haldimann as a watchmaker in Horben, Switzerland. Beat Haldimann is a direct descendent of Hans, and today runs his workshops in Thun, specializing in tourbillons.
Personally, for me, I have been a great admirer of the H1 Flying Lyra. For many years, ever since its introduction in 2002, especially when I encountered it for the first time in a special exhibit in huge and amazing watch shop: Wako, Tokyo. When I first examined the watch, I could not understand how Beat achieved the feat of placing the tourbillon right in the center, and still don’t quite. The movement holds some secrets that Beat does not reveal.
Beat claims this is the world’s first central tourbillon hovering over the dial. we guess the words “hovering over the dial” is the operative phrase as in our research, we do know Omega introduced a watch with caliber 1170 in 1994 with a central tourbillon. But the Omega tourbillon is level with the dial, so with that qualification the H1 Flying Lyra is correct as claimed.
The watch is encased in a case with classic dimensions: 39mm diameter with a height of 10mm. The tourbillon itself measures a whopping 16.8mm, the balance wheel itself takes up 14.14mm in diameter. This makes for a very elegant watch, with the large tourbillon taking center stage, as Beat intended. In his words: the H1 is for the heart. Indeed, the tourbillon, large, pulsating, beating like the heart, visible, palpable. Magnificent.
The movement is rather interesting. As the tourbillon takes center stage in the middle of the dial, it has to be driven differently than a traditional tourbillon. Two trains from the double barrels drive the fourth pinion. The two gears are arranged in such a way that the lateral forces on the fourth pinion balance each other. Quite ingenious.
A magnificent watch, introduced in 2002, and yet unparalleled yet, 12 years later. But this exclusivity and magnificence comes at a price. CHF180,800 in platinum and CHF171,800 in gold.
For Basel World 2013, Haldimann also introduced the H11, Beat’s first watch not to feature a tourbillon. Very simple, classical, 2 hand watch, in the spirit of the Dufour Simplicity, yet even simpler.
The movement features a central balance, visible from the case back. Held by a skeletonized balance cock, and right smack in the middle of the frosted movement. Makes quite a statement.
What belies the complexity is in its simplicity. The hands are mounted in the classical method…centrally, and yet, directly below the pivot of the hands, is the balance wheel. Available at a rather more approachable, though not inexpensive CHF49800 in gold and CHF58800 in platinum.