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Review: Christophe Claret Angelico

Celestial Intervention... Or Not?
by Robin Lim on March 8, 2019

This year is an exceptionally special year for Christophe Claret. 2019 is the 30th anniversary of his Manufacture, and it is concurrently the 10th anniversary of his brand as well. For such an occasion, there must certainly be a watch that is worthy enough to stand up to the grandiose. Cue the new Angelico.

Christophe Claret Angelico

The Christophe Claret Angelico is a culmination of the watchmaker’s pursuit of fine watchmaking with traditional complications. It pays tribute to the quest for precision in the industry – championed by the marine chronometers of the 18th century.

But the Angelico is not just a watch with a beautiful name and story. The Angelico is a piece that challenges the maison to create something different from the usual – which leads to the creation of a timepiece that combines a tourbillon with a long detent escapement, coupled with a cable-type fusee transmission system. It sounds mind-boggling to us already.

So, the question is: Has Christophe Claret managed to blow our mind with his latest creation? Let’s find out.

The Dial, Case and Hands

The Angelico certainly fooled us when we first saw the timepiece. What we have is a contemporary looking timepiece – something similar to the likes of Ressence or Jacob & Co with the large domed sapphire crystal. It is a juxtaposition of whatever the we have mentioned earlier, with the inspirations drawn from the complications that were used in the 18th century marine chronometers.

The 45.5mm is certainly not shy to show its complications. The top portion of the watch features its cable fusee system, and the 6-minute tourbillon lies at the 6 o’clock position. There are four different indicators on the watch, mainly the minute hand, day/night indicator, as well as the home and local time. The dual timezone indicators are indicated by a jumping hour mechanism, which adds a nice contemporary touch to the timepiece. This, together with the minute indicator at the peripheral of the dial, ensures that the different technical elements on the dial are unobstructed.

The watch is available in two variants: 5N red gold and titanium. The former is fitted with a red accent dial and a red ruby minute indicator, while the latter comes with a blue accent dial and a blue sapphire minute indicator. The one in the review is the titanium variant, in which we feel that the blue and black accents provides the watch a rather cool vibe to it.

The Movement: DTC08

The watch is fitted with an in-house manual-winding DTC08. The watch boasts two parallel-mounted mainspring barrels, which provide a decent power reserve of 72 hours.

As mentioned, the highlight for this timepiece lies in the escapement. The Manufacture uses a long detent escapement to keep accuracy, but increases its robustness with an anti-pivot cam. A flexible thrust bearing is also fitted on the wheel and connected to the balance to cope with the risks of over-banking.

The tourbillon is another noteworthy point to mention. It completes a full rotation on its axis once every six minutes, to reduce the impact of its inertia. The 16mm component is constructed with titanium (carriage) and aluminium (bridge).

Finally, we come to the constant force system. While a constant force system is fitted with a fusee and cable mechanism. This watch connects the fusee and the barrels with a Dyneema nanofiber cable instead of the now relatively popular chain. The use of a cable improves the efficiency of the mechanism (as chains causes frictions), and it helps to increase and further regulates the power reserve.

The Competitive Landscape

The Christophe Claret Angelico, admittedly, is a polarising timepiece. Its contemporary looks might be a hit with some, but there are certainly collectors who might have preferred something more subdued. However, we can certainly all agree that the Angelico is a technical masterpiece. An impressive work of art.

As mentioned, the Angelico is available in both 5N red gold and titanium. The timepieces are priced at CHF 238,000 (approximately S$320,282) and CHF 218,000 (approximately S$293,367) respectively, and each variant is limited to a limited production of 10 pieces.

For a more traditional take of a timepiece with both the fusée and tourbillon complication, we have the Breguet Tradition Fusée Tourbillon.

This is a more traditional timepiece with a similar layout that showcases both the tourbillon, as well as the fusée and chain transmission. This is priced at S$252,300 for the rose gold version.

Continuing with the theme of marine chronometers of the 18th century, we have the Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 1.

Similar to the Breguet, the Ferdinand Berthoud possesses a classic aesthetic. The main difference between the watches lies in the design – the Chronomètre FB 1 is much more discreet, with the tourbillon and fusée and chain displayed at the back of the timepiece. It is priced at CHF 220,000 (approximately S$296,058), and it is available in both white and rose gold.

Finally, we round up the comparison with the Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane.

The watch similarly features the fusée and chain mechanism, but it replaces the tourbillon with a gymbal system. The gymbal system are found in marine chronometers, and allows the escapement to be held in a constant horizontal position, independent of the position of the case. It is certainly an interesting take on ensuring accuracy. The piece is priced at US$280,000 (approximately S$380,744).

Concluding Thoughts

The Angelico is an interesting marriage between classic complications with modern aesthetics. As we have mentioned above, the aesthetic of the watch might not have been everyone’s cup of tea. But in terms of technical prowess, we dare say that most will agree this Christophe Claret is one hell of an exceptional timepiece. For someone who enjoys complications with modern architecture – this is surely worth a double take.

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