Does a name like Harry Winston need an introduction? Associated and synonymous with luxury, the American brand has a record of records in matters of diamonds, jewellery and watches. At Baselworld 2018 we were introduced to the Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 9, the last timepiece from their History Of Tourbillons series. Does the new timepiece manage to keep up with the brand’s fame? We try to find the best and the worst of it.
A short historical introduction
Harry Winston was born on 1st of March 1896, and was to become one of the most important names in the world of jewellery. His parents, Ukrainian immigrants, owned a jewellery business. His father’s jewellery shop was the place where Winston grows up and learns secrets of his calling. At the age of twelve, Harry buys a two-carat emerald for 25 cents and sells it just a few days later for US$800 – an impressive amount.
In 1920, Harry Winston starts his own business. He gains notoriety with the acquisition of Arabella Huntington‘s jewellery collection for an sum of US$1.2million.
In 1932, he founds the Harry Winston, Inc. and opens his first boutique in New York City. 1935 and 1938 are marked by the acquisition of the Jonker and the Vargas diamonds. In the next years, Mr Winston and his technicians developed the Winston clustering design – where the individual diamond dictates the jewellery design and not the metal setting.
Over the years, the Harry Winston name is associated with famous diamonds and famous people, being the supplier for royal families, cinema stars.
At 28 December 1978, the 82 year old Harry Winston dies in New York. His two sons, Ronald and Bruce take over the leadership.
In 2001, under the leadership of Max Busser as CEO of Harry Winston Rare Timepieces division, Hary Winston introduced the Opus Series. These timepieces are the result of collaboration between the most important and influential watchmakers from the last two decades. An overview of the Opus Collection was done by our friend Elizabeth Doerr for Quill&Pad.
In 2004, Harry Winston released a world’s first: a timepiece crafted in a modern zirconium-based alloy called Zalium. Now the watches manufactured with this material are part of the Project Z Collection.
In 2009, the brand released the first timepiece from the Histoire de Tourbillon Collection. The Histoire of Tourbillon 1 was a collaboration with the independent watchmaking supremo Greubel Forsey. The No1 features two 25° inclined single-axis tourbillons.
In January 2013, The Swatch Group acquires Harry Winston and Dr Nayla Hayek became CEO of the brand.
Review: Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 9
We have covered some of the earlier Historie de Tourbillon. See here for No 1, and here for No. 8. The ninth piece of the Histoire de Tourbillon Collection is a breathtaking appearance. No. 9 features a spectacular tourbillon positioned at 6 o’clock and two retrograde indications for minutes and jumping hour. As the first pictures reveal, the Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 9 is dressed to impress.
The case, dial and hands
Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 9 is cased in rose gold, Ref. HCOMTT47RR002 and white gold, Ref. HCOMTT47WW001, naturally 18karat metal. The case construction is rather complex, masculine and technical. This visually effective combination of highly polished with brushed surface is prominently featured on the case.
The cylindrical case is vertical brushed with a fine granulation with great finesse. The crown guard protuberance is well polished. This matches the polished bezel and looks like an extension from the circle when viewed from the dial side.
The slightly inward curved lugs have the same finishes as the case. The sides and the top are vertically brushed while the bottom is mirror polished. The edges are bevelled and feature a glossy, mirror finish. A cursory look at the case reveals similarities with the other Harry Winston watch cases. But perusing the details and comparing with the No.1, No. 9’s case looks less complicated, more refined.
The narrow crown features studs for a good grip. The brush/polished combination is found also here. A lot of work was invested in the edged and polished bumps. The Harry Winston logo is positive engraved on a matt background. Needless to say, the grip and handling are excellent.
The rear bezel is bevelled and mirror polished. It is quite narrow and offers a lot of viewing area of the movement. The case back is fixed using 8 polished convex head screws. The case offers a water resistance of 3 bar.
The straps come with a touch of luxury: the black alligator leather is stitched with thread made of 18k rose gold. The white gold version has the strap’s stitching in platinum. The straps are fitted with Ardillon buckle.
While the design, construction and finishes are almost identical, the two versions of the Histoire de Tourbillon 9 are introduced. The rose gold version comes with a predominantly black colour present over the dial and movement, and the white gold case is delivered with a dominant grey in place of black.
The number of elements and finishes are somewhat overwhelming. The eyes are lost between multi-depths and colours. Some might find the dial tiresome or busy due to so many constituent parts. But we find it quite interesting that the watch offers many views.
The dial is split into three major areas: the biggest size is occupied by the three carriages tourbillon followed by two retrograde indications, symmetrically placed on the upper side.
The minutes’ indication is placed on the right side, the hours’ on the left one. The gold hands have a very industrial design with straight cuts, brushed surfaces and polished bevelled edges. The construction is interesting, fits well into the design. The visibility is increased by the white lacquer insertion. The hands sit on brushed finished pedestals. The symmetrical view is pleasant, fitting excellent in the theme.
The time indication uses sapphire semicircles fixed in the gold bridge. The multi-depth effect is increased, the movement is visible underneath. Gold Arabic numerals and baton indexes with white lacquer insertion “float” over the movement. The applied indexes and numerals look really good. As an aid to the legibility, the bridge is inner bevelled and features an extra set of applied cubic indexes. If a hand pass an index, its size and shape look like is continuing the tip of the hand in a perfect geometric proportion.
The time indication bridge is fixed with four polished chamfered screws. On the upper side, at 12 o’clock is placed a shield bearing the brand’s logo. Immediate under, a middle console wears the name od the watch positive engraved and surrounded by a white lacquer. The applied 9 placed relatively central, above the tourbillon, denote the importance of its representation.
The power reserve indication is placed on the left side. The two-part hand and the graded indication feature the same type of finishes as the time indication.
Under the time indication, there are visible bridges and gears. The visible finishes are a fine Satin-brush and an almost invisible bevelling. Taking into consideration the position of these elements, a more delicate attention to details would be desirable. A well-polished bevelling would be nice. Since the watches we saw at Baselworld were prototypes, we hope the end models will have more detailed finishes.
The tourbillon is built using one of the most elaborate design of the moment – the tri-axial construction. The finishes are handmade and elaborated. The balance wheel bridge features a subtle perlage and it is bevelled with a lovely polish. The balance wheel carriage rotates completely once every 45 seconds.
The second carriage is decorated with a vertical brush and, again, a nice polishing of the bevelled edges. The integration of the counterweight is aesthetically excellent realised. The viewer needs a closer look to understand the functionality behind. The second carriage makes a rotation in 75 seconds.
The third cage has a shape reminding of the Harry Winston logo. It is finished with a nice pattern gained from microbeads. The last carriage needs 300 seconds for a complete rotation on its axis. The mesmerising movement of the tri-axial tourbillon can be seen in the video below.
The movement HW4504
Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 9 is powered by the calibre HW4504. The movement is interesting aesthetically and technically. The most spectacular element is the 20.5 mm diameter tri-axial tourbillon. The second easy observable feature is the retrograde time function. The third element, less obvious is the jumping hour. We observed the time scale starting with “0” and ending with “12”. We couldn’t stop wondering if the hour hand jumps from 11 to 12 o’clock during the day and from 11 to 0 during the night.
The Calibre HW4505 offers on the back side the same great view of the tri-axial tourbillon. The movement is rather large, measuring 40.4mm in diameter and a height of 10.6mm (without including the 20.5mm in diameter tourbillon). The cage is surrounded by satin finished titanium skeletonised bridge. Two barrels placed in series in a daisy-chain configuration offers fifty hours of power reserve. the barrels are decorated with brushing, engraving and microblasting depicting Harry Winston logos and diamond look-alike shapes.
From the aesthetic point of view, the movement is modern, industrial, without “unnecessary” decorations and subterfuge. Considering the technicality of this piece, the chosen design is appropriate. The decorations include Satin-finished, perlage and microbeading. The titanium tourbillon cage is beautiful. And the tourbillon itself uses 117 parts out of a total of 408 components for the entire movement.
Talking about the technical aspects, the calibre HW4505 is a slow machine. Its variable-inertia with 18K gold adjusting screws balance wheel uses Phillips terminal curve and Geneva-style stud spring and it oscillates with only 21,600 vph or 3Hz. In theory, the low chronometric capabilities are compensated by the tri-axial tourbillon construction. But on this matter, the tourbillon becomes part of the fun of the game and is the one that counts more than just high beat numbers.
The fifty hours power reserve is assured by two series coupled barrels having 1 revolution in 3.2 hours (Side note: the nicely decorated barrels can be, in this way, better observed). One of the barrels is fitted with a sliding brace.
Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 9 has its price POA (Price On Application). The amount of features offered is impressive. The HDT9, how the name of the watch is noted on the dial, will be manufactured in a limited series of ten pieces for each colour.
The logical and obvious competition for this watches are the timepieces created by the fantastical duo Greubel Forsey. Their watches are fabulous machines with perfect finishes and extraordinary technical solutions. Not only their tourbillons are magnificent in every aspect, are also extremely precise, considered to be one of the best in the market. The Greubel Forsey timepieces look always good on the wrist, come always with a technical marvel, but also with an appropriate price. We invite you to have a look at the Greubel Forsey Différential d’Égalité as only one of the latest example of their expertise. The watch comes with a deserved price tag of CHF265,000, without taxes.
In 2016, at the 75 anniversary of the Reverso, Jaeger-LeCoultre revealed the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon. This is the author’s all-time favourite and grail watch. It includes all the great element of the brand: a skeletonized Reverso watch featuring the mature version of Gyrotourbillon. Since 2002, the team from JLC, with designer Magali Metrailler responsible for the aesthetic aspects and Eric Coudray for the technical background, start working on a multiple-axis tourbillon for the new collections, releasing it in 2004. In 2008, the Gyrotourbillon was introduced in the Reverso for the first time with a marine cylindrical spring. The Reverso Tribute uses the fourth iteration of the amazing complication. Priced at €270,000 before taxes, the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon was produced in series of 75 pieces. The full review can be found here.
The Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon is another tourbillon marvel. Priced at CHF425,000 (incl. VAT), this minute repeater can be considered a complete watch: a tri-axial superb tourbillon, a minute repeater with a great sound and a lovely executed skeletonized watch. Inspired by the Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges presented at the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition by Constant Girard-Perregaux, the watch is a modern beast. A superb balanced movement aesthetical and technical, the latest Girard-Perregaux is a tour-de-force from the renown brand. The review can be found here.
Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 9 is a great piece of machinery. Good looking, with an impressive calibre and a beautiful tri-axial tourbillon, the watch is a contemporary mix of modern materials and traditional watchmaking techniques. The level of detail is impressive, tending to fall in the overachiever category. Some of its elements are a matter of taste but getting over the indisputable question of personal preferences, the author feels that some of the elements of the Calibre HW4505 deserve more attention. It is not a question of an unfinished work but more a question over the chosen decorations. Perhaps a more elaborate finish may be more suitable.
However, the HDT9 remains a powerful example of Harry Winston capabilities in designing and manufacturing high technical pieces. The Histoire de Tourbillon Collection now features nine extraordinary timepieces. Well done!
Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 9 Specifications and price
HTD9 will be available in 10 pieces 18K rose gold: HCOMTT47RR002 and 10 pieces 18K white gold: HCOMTT47WW001 with POA (Price on Application). For more details please visit Harry Winston Website.
Type: Mechanical, manual winding
Dimensions: Diameter Ø40.4 mm; Height: 10.60 mm (excluding tourbillon)
Components: 408, of which 117 are in the tourbillon
Power reserve: 50hours
Frequency: 21,600 vibrations/hour (3Hz)
Functions: Retrograde jumping hours, retrograde dragging minutes, power reserve with a hand
Material: 18K rose gold or 18K white gold
Dimensions of the case: Diameter Ø 46.5mm: Height: 20.84mm
Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal, with a double-sided anti-reflective coating
Caseback: Open, domed sapphire crystal with a double-sided anti-reflective coating
Water Resistance: 3bar
HCOMTT47RR002: Black alligator leather with stitching in 18K rose gold thread
HCOMTT47WW001: Black alligator leather with stitching in 950 platinum thread