Bovet 1822 Edouard Bovet Tourbillon
Edouard Bovet was a watchmaker born 1797 in Fleurier and is the son of Jean-Frédéric Bovet, himself a master watchmaker. In 1814, he left home for London with two of his brothers, Alphonse and Frederic, to develop skills in sales. In 1818, Edouard Bovet left London for Canton, a journey that took four months by sea aboard the Orwell, a ship that belonged to the East India Company. Almost as soon as he arrived, he was able to sell four watches that he carried along to a Chinese collector for the sum of CHF10,000, the equivalent of CHF1,000,000 today. It was this event in 1818 that laid the foundation of the maison Bovet that we know today. To mark the bicentenary of Edouard Bovet’s fateful odyssey to China, Bovet has introduced a new timepiece dedicated to travel. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on the Bovet 1822 Edouard Bovet Tourbillon.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The Edouard Bovet Tourbillon is available in red gold, white gold or platinum. Its case measures a whopping 46.0 mm in diameter and 17.2 mm in thickness. Such an unwieldy size is normally not ideal for a wristwatch, but in the case of the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon, it is somewhat justifiable. That’s because it’s more than just a wristwatch. The Edouard Bovet Tourbillon is housed in the now-emblematic Amadeo convertible case. Patented in 2010, the Amadeo system transforms a timepiece into a reversible wristwatch, a table clock, or a pocket watch without the use of any tools.
The case is beautifully nuanced and entirely mirror polished. The version of the watch that we photographed is set with diamonds on the bezel and the T-shaped lugs. To be frank, they do not look out of place at all, maybe because the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon is a pretty flamboyantly designed watch itself. But for those who prefer a little less bling (or none at all) on their watches, the standard versions of the watch are without diamonds.
In typical Bovet fashion, the dial of the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon is ornate, and verily so. Let’s get right into it. Given that this is a travel time watch, the two hands in the centre indicate local time, i.e. the time where you currently are. There are three hemispherical domes on the dial, all artistically decorated. The first, located just beneath the company marquee at 12 o’clock, indicates the day/night cycle. It rotates counter-clockwise to represent the reality of the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. The other two domes sit along the horizontal axis of the dial, one on the left and one on the right, each engraved and painted to depict the world map. They can be set to correspond to any of the twenty four time zones, effectively making the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon a triple time zone watch. For each hemisphere, a window displays the name of the chosen city and the time in this same zone is indicated with a hand that moves over a 24-hour sub-dial. These hands are curved to follow the contour of the dome, just as the central hands are curved to pass over all three dimensional domes on the dial. We found this particularly satisfying to look at – just saying. When the lights are shut, the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon puts on an impressive light show. The oceans on the two hemispherical world maps, the sun and the moon on the day/night display, the dots on the 24 hour track, and the tips of all the hands are all coated with Superluminova, and thus provide visibility in the dark.
Let’s not forget that tourbillon as well, which in the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon is of the double-sided flying variety. The tourbillon is designed to be minimally attached to the movement, giving the illusion of the carriage floating freely in the air. Bovet have become very adept at this as evidenced by other past pieces like the Récital 20 Astérium, and the result is always stunning. But wait there’s more. Flip the watch over and apart from the back of the double-sided tourbillon, there is also an offset dial with blue-lacquered guilloche that displays the local time, as well as a power reserve indicator. Pascal Raffy and team set out to craft the ultimate travel timepiece to honour its founder, and in our opinion, they have done an excellent job.
Powering the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon is the 472-part, in-house Calibre 16BM04-TT. It is manually wound and features an impressive ten-day power reserve off of a single mainspring barrel. According to Bovet, only 75 turns of the crown are required to fully wind the watch from an empty tank. The lazy 18,000 vph beat rate of the in-house manufactured balance (worth mentioning because few watchmakers have the capability to do so) is an homage to movements of old, but also serves to reduce power consumption, contributing to the movement’s beastly power reserve.
Indeed, the Calibre 16BM04-TT boasts great technicals, but as is always the case, it is the exuberant finishing and decoration of a Bovet calibre that takes the lion’s share of attention. The movement is hammered and adorned with fleurisanne engraving on the surface, bordered by raised edges. The tourbillon cage itself is brushed and outlined by bevels on the edges, with the two rounded arms mirror polished, thus providing a stark visual contrast. Overall, the Calibre 16BM04-TT impresses from both technical and aesthetic standpoints and it does so with flair. Is it the most sophisticated, well-finished movement of its kind? No, but it is still haute horlogerie-grade and is Bovet through and through.
The Competitive Landscape
The Edouard Bovet Tourbillon is an exquisite timepiece with equally exquisite pricing to match. The red gold variant retails at CHF315,000, the white gold at CHF325,000, and the platinum at CHF345,000. It’s no loose change, but clients will receive a literal work of art that can be worn on a wrist, set on a table top, or placed in the pocket of a morning suit, which is pretty cool if you’re a well-heeled watch geek. The production of the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon is limited to 20 pieces per metal. At this level, competition is hard to find, but they do exist and are expectedly just as fantastical.
Exhibit A: the Montblanc Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama, which looks like the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon inverted. Measuring 47.00 mm x 15.38 mm, it’s even similar in size. At 12 o’clock is a drop-dead-gorgeous tourbillon with a cylindrical balance spring, and just beneath the horizontal axis of the dial are two domes with enamel oceans, representing the Northern and Southern hemispheres of the Earth. Together, the rings that encircle both hemispheres indicate the time of every location on the map – essentially a world timer – as well as the day/night cycle. Home time is indicated in the tiny sub-dial at 6 o’clock via a fleur de lys hand. The watch is a spectacular display of what Montblanc is truly capable of and will most certainly give the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon a run for its money. Finding one might prove to be challenging, however, given that there are only 18 pieces made, at a more ‘modest’ price of EUR265,000 each.
For those with a little bit more coin to spare, there’s the CHF610,000 Greubel Forsey GMT Earth – nearly twice the retail price of the Bovet. Having just made its debut at SIHH 2018, the GMT Earth is Greubel Forsey’s latest interpretation of its splendiferous GMT model. The changes that were applied are purely design-oriented and aesthetic, including a case that has been inscribed with Greubel Forsey’s key values, the ability to now view the globe from the movement side (where it was obstructed in previous versions of the watch), and a sapphire crystal hour track and seconds sub-dial. Functionally, the watch is brilliant, with a second time zone, GMT, a rotating globe and a separate 24-hour time zone disc movement-side displaying universal time, summer and winter time, power reserve, and, of course, a signature inclined tourbillon for good measure. Needless to say, the GMT Earth also has the best finishing of the three, which isn’t surprising given the fact that it also probably has the best finishing in the industry.
Thanks to its design and ability to assume multiple conformations, the Edouard Bovet Tourbillon is indeed the ultimate showpiece. It’s not for everyone though; some may balk at its “over-the-top” design or its unwieldy size. But for the rest, it is an object of sheer beauty that deserves admiration and adulation.