In 2012, Christophe Claret unveiled the X-TREM series that stands for eXperimental, Time, Research, Engineering and Mechanism. This unique concept originated from Christophe Claret’s determination to bring watchmaking to the next level by incorporating innovative ideas and methods to deliver a timepiece that can be easily differentiated from the rest. The X-TREM 1 is a product of integrating different areas of research and the high level of craftsmanship we have come to know of Christophe Claret.
As a short introduction before we delve into the details of the watch. The X-TREM 1 Pinball featured in this article was made to commemorate the fifth “Only Watch” charity auction, a charity auction to benefit research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy, held in Monaco under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II.
This exceptional timepiece was designed to reflect a theme that is most precious of children’s activities: Play. Christophe Claret used pinball machines as an inspiration to design the timepiece and we can see hints of that in the form of tiny metal balls that indicates both hours and minutes through the new, grilled sapphire tubes. The aesthetics of this unique piece is undeniably captivating, the electric blue and bright orange colors bring out the Pinball concept and is visible on the bumpers, slingshots within the movement.
Case, Dial and Hands
The X-TREM 1 Pinball comes in a rectangular case with curvex profile with the case measuring at 40.80 mm by 56.80 mm, it is made from white gold with palladium and Perunal-type aluminum which is a state-of-the-art material.
To ensure that the flying tourbillon is more visible, it is being inclined at a 30-degree angle and it is also equipped with double ceramic bearings to maximize reliability. This watch is unique in the sense that the watch is wound using the small ball-like circles located on the two ratchet wheels. In terms of dial design, the three ratchet wheels and a bridge resembles the layout of those classic pinball machines and the colors of blue and orange combines perfectly to give the watch a young and energetic feel to it. Also, the push-piece used for rapid time correction that is positioned at the top, is inscribed with the word TILIT which is another feature that resembles that of a pinball machine.
Perhaps the most unique portion about this timepiece is the hour and minute display which makes use of a magnetic levitation system. The system comprises of two tiny steel spheres which move inside two small mesh tube, mounted on the left and right side of the case. These metal balls are invisibly pulled by two miniature magnetized carriages, which in turn are pulled by cables. These cables are strong and flexible, thinner than a human hair, these cables can withstand tensile forces of up to a kilo. The spheres have no mechanical connection with the movement of the watch thus not disrupting the movement in any way even with the use of magnetic force.
This was made possible through the use of a patented technology that was developed in partnership with the School of Business and Engineering Vaud (HEIG-VD) in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland. The magnetic fields are designed to focus only on the task of moving the sphere within the tube and not affect the movement. We think this shows the amount of effort Christophe Claret puts in trying to bring the best of R&D into watchmaking and incorporating innovative concepts of science into its work, certainly commendable!
The X-TREM 1 Pinball is powered by the mechanical, hand-wound movement Calibre FLY11. The movement operates at 3 Hz (21,600 vph) and it features a power reserve of up to 50 + hours, powering the unique hour and minutes display outside the case and the seconds displayed on the tourbillon cage. As mentioned earlier, the flying tourbillon is inclined at a 30-degree angle to allow for a clearer view and it is being supported by a double ceramic bearing, with cone-shaped pinion transmission.
Overall, we are thoroughly impressed with Christophe Claret’s work on the X-TREM 1 Pinball. This masterpiece is in a league of its own and is an excellent example of how different areas of research can be brought together to deliver brilliance. We also liked the dial design very much and have to admit that it resembles the design of a classic pinball machine and the clever choice of colors adds to the aesthetics of it. The X-TREM 1 Pinball clearly is a unique piece in many ways and it in itself is a cutting-edge horological sophistication, dominating both interactive and mechanical aspects of its design.