Review: the new Bovet 1822 Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two

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Bovet adds to their recently reimagined Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two with an additional watch with a new aesthetic to the traditional. Here is our detailed review take on the Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two in a sand blasted titanium case and SuperLumiNova dial.

Comprehensive Review: the new Bovet 1822 Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two in sandblasted titanium

Retail price for the Bovet 1822 Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two in sandblasted titanium case and blue Super-Luminova dials is: SGD 365,500 / THB 8,295,200 (both inclusive VAT). Limited Edition of 8 pieces. 

Bovet retails in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore and Gaysorn Village, Bangkok. Viewing is by appointment only in Kuala Lumpur.

The Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two was first released in 2020 in a more classical gold case. This was updated with a new version with a new aesthetic in titanium cases with black DLC and SuperLumiNova dials. We covered the release details of the reimagined version of the watch at its launch in 2021. The collection was further extended this year with the review model in a sandblasted titanium case with blue SuperLumiNova dials.

Two models of the five models released in black DLC case at launch in 2021. The review sample is a new release for 2022, and is in sandblasted titanium case with blue accents.

Bovet celebrates 200 years of watchmaking in 2022, and has remained independent as a full manufacture owned by Pascal Raffy. Annual production is about 800 watches per year with a good portion being custom orders. They have expertise on the entire range of skills needed for developing and hand crafting haute horlogerie movements, including hairsprings and regulating organs. All work is done in-house with the exception of the mainspring, gems, sapphire case and straps. The maison is also strong in the métier d’art space, with artisans in hand engraving, enamel work and enamel painting.

The case

The case of the Virtuoso VIII is adapted from pocket watches which is part of Bovet’s long and chequered history. The case retains the Lépine style pocket watch case layout with the crown at 12 o’clock. Manufactured in sandblasted titanium, it is matte finished. The finish is smooth to the touch, but does not catch the light and does not appear shiny.

The crown is a large, polished onion shaped structure, with engraved gadroons for a comfortable grip. It carries a sapphire cabochon and is also equipped with a rapid date correction system which advances the date by one day with each push of the cabochon. Around the crown, Bovet fitted a bow which articulates around a torpedo shaped extension to the case at 12 o’clock. This bow is a nod to the pocket watch origins, and is able to swing about the crown to allow access to the crown for winding, time setting and the aforementioned rapid date correction. Its other end is attached to the upper strap. On the opposite end of the case, a structure extends to hold a pin to which the lower strap is attached. These two points of articulation allows the straps to wrap around the wrist to make the rather large 44mm case wear smaller and more comfortable than the dimensions might suggest.

The case shape is otherwise round, with a curved bezel and two raised lips on the side. The case design is sloped – it is thicker at 12 o’clock than it is at 6 o’clock with a gently domed sapphire glass. A design which Bovet calls their “writing sloped case”. This is an adaptation of the casework of the Bovet Fleurier and Dimier watches, and makes the watch to appear svelte, which we dare say, is a rather sensuous and seductive aesthetic.

The combination of the design shape, nuanced details and the sandblasted, matte finish of the case is particularly attractive, and yet utterly understated in its presentation.  

The dial and hands

The dial is an open-worked design. The keyless works is displayed and one can examine the fine workmanship of the mechanism as it extends down from the crown. This is a complicated spherical differential system and is awarded with its own two patents. The number of crown turns needed for a full wind of the large 10 day mainspring spring is halved without increasing the perceived effort. Winding the watch in practice is a smooth and pleasurable sensation as one watches the power reserve hand rise.

Two sub-dials in a beautiful textured sky blue are placed just above the center of the dial at 3 and 9 o’clock. The left one carries the power reserve, marked in days, and the right one bears the name plate “BOVET” “1822” in two lines and the limited edition number – in the case of the review watch “No 6/8. This sub-dial also carries a framed aperture showing the large outsized date. On the lower half of the dial lies the pièce de résistance in the form of the double sided flying tourbillon. The bridges carrying the driving train is visible. On the right of the dial, below the date sub-dial, the third wheel is seen engaging the driving wheel of the tourbillon cage.

These two sub-dials are fully coated with SuperLumiNova. They appear in the beautiful textured sky blue in good light, and glows in a healthy blue-green lume in the dark. A similar section surrounding the tourbillon is also coated with lume, allowing good legibility of the seconds hand, as indicated by an arrow index fixed on the tourbillon cage.

The blue-green superluminova lume in the dark. This photograph is taken from the blue dial Black DLC version.

The beautifully finished top plate of the movement is visible below the sub-dials, and shows excellent work in the Côtes de Genève, the anglage and gold chatons.

The movement: Caliber 17BM06-GD

The movement’s top plate is almost fully visible from the dial side, but when one turns the watch over, another spectacle greets the eyes. The magnificently constructed movement with curved double arms holding the wheel train is visible. The power reserve mechanism is also visible under the plate covering part of the single mainspring barrel which provides 10 days of power reserve.

As is visible on the dial side, the tourbillon is magnificently designed and finished. The arms are in titanium and is finished in both sides with the intent to be displayed on either. Within the highly polished case is a variable inertia balance that beats at a lazy 18,000 bph, typical for a tourbillon-regulated movement in order to reduce energy consumption. Always worth noting is the fact that Bovet makes its own hairsprings and the regulating organ, something that exceedingly few manufacturers can claim about themselves.

Movement finishing is excellent. The decoration is consistent and excellently executed. Take the example of the Côtes de Genève on the rear plates of the case back. The bottom plate’s decoration line up precisely to those of the three bridges and look as if the côtes line up to form concentric circles. The tourbillon cage is rounded and polished, and evenly beveled. Not a single component is left untouch by the finisseurs. Superb finishing at its finest.

Concluding thoughts

The Bovet Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two Sandblasted Titanium SuperLumiNova Dial is a beautiful watch in our books. And we suspect in many other keen eyed enthusiasts’ books as well. The aesthetics is perhaps a bit unusual but well balanced and superbly executed. The visuals are enough for the Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two to be instantly recognisable on the wrist of someone across the room – with its crown at 12 adorned with its sapphire cabochon, with its bow articulating to wrap the strap around the wrist, with the matte finished titanium case with many nuanced design details, and the magnificent double blue sub-dials and exposed mechanism and that gorgeous tourbillon. But yet, as impressive as it sounds, the watch still manages to maintain a discreet decorum. A nice balance, we say.

As mentioned, the design affords it to wear smaller than the 44mm case dimension suggests – the articulating lugs and the tapering case is a huge contributor. The asking price of SGD 365k is no small change, but it buys a rather exclusive ticket into the ultra high end world of watchmaking that few other maisons can offer. We highly recommend a buy if you can pony up the cash.

Photo Notes

The Bovet Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two was photographed in a full afternoon session at the Bovet Boutique in Marina Bay Sands. Fujifilm GFX 50S II with Hasselblad HC 4/120 and HC 2.8/80 + HC26 with H Adapter G. Profoto strobes.

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