Every January in Geneva we see extraordinary timepieces from Bovet 1822 and wonder what they could possibly show us next. (Remember the Récital 18 Shooting Star® from 2016?) And every year, to our delight, we discover new marvels that continue to amaze us, such as this Bovet Récital 20 Astérium® from the 2017 collection.
Professor Georges Meynet from the Astronomy Department of the University of Geneva is a man of exciting words, and when Bovet invited him to present his insights into the origins of time and the universe, we knew we were in for something special even before discovering the Bovet Récital 20 Astérium®. The brand’s latest timepiece from the Dimier collection is described as a “10-Day Flying Tourbillon Night Sky Annual Calendar with Astronomical Functions”.
Contrary to the Shooting Star that gave us a view from the heavens looking down onto Planet Earth and its 24 time zones, the Récital 20 Astérium® offers us a majestic view of the skies as seen from the Earth, with multiple functions and indications to help us master all the complexities.
Focusing on the position of the stars, essential to man’s observation of time, a beautiful dome of translucent blue sapphire crystal is laser-engraved with true-to-life stars and constellations that are coated with Super-LumiNova for a real night sky effect. To ensure their constant precision, the night sky and other sidereal indications on this timepiece are governed by an annual sidereal calendar mechanism of 365.25 days, the time it really takes for the Earth to orbit the sun.
On the lower left side of the night sky, a precision moon phase waxes and wanes above the equation of time indicator marked with “le soleil avance” and “le soleil retarde”, while on the right the retrograde minutes hand sits above the power reserve marker. The hours hand that points to the 24-hour dial beneath the blue dome indicates the time and the north, and also serves to carry the elliptical window that outlines the part of the sky visible directly above you when the arrow is pointing north.
Flanking the hours and constellation screen are more signs. To the right, you have a retrograde minutes display and an extremely discreet power reserve indicator. On the left, you have the equation of period index and the moon period display.At 6 o’clock, there is Bovet’s signature double confront tourbillon, which utilizes an elaborate structure comprising two levels of bridges and pillars to create the illusion of the tourbillon floating in mid-air. The final result is quite stunning. The tourbillon makes a revolution every minute and there’s a mark right above the tourbillon cage that enables owners to browse the seconds at 20-second intervals.If you believed the Bovet Récital 20 Astérium was striking on the dial side, wait till you see the back of it. The back of the watch features what Bovet calls for an annual calendar but it really follows the sidereal year. What it actually does is monitor the length of time it takes for the Earth to complete one revolution when measured against stationary stars. Therefore, the only central hand takes 365.25 days to complete a revolution on the back of the watch. And, since it travels, it points to the season, solstice, equinox, zodiac, and month indications that are indicated on the expansive sapphire crystal.Look closer through the sapphire crystal and you may observe the highly decorated Caliber 17DM02-SKY. It features a single mainspring but since the motion is so efficient and because the equilibrium beats at a leisurely 2.5Hz, the Bovet Récital 20 Astérium has a very long power reserve of 10 times or 720 hours.It goes without mentioning that the Caliber 17DM02-SKY is meticulously finished. A unique kind of finishing they use is a kind of engraving called bris de verre, which loosely translates to “broken glass.”
On the watch shown here, the time is 20:14. The hours, minutes and seconds of course provide the time of 24 hours in one day. For extra fun, the retroactive seconds marker of 20 seconds is positioned on the tourbillon carriage wheel, with the patented double face flying tourbillon, first used in the Shooting Star, making one complete revolution per minute.
Visible through the transparent case-back, a single central hand travels around season, solstice and equinox, and zodiac indications, as well as the dates and months graduated on the case-back bezel. Driven by the annual calendar mechanism, the hand makes one complete circle in 365.25 days.
The manual-wound movement – Caliber 17DM02-SKY – with bridges and plate polished and decorated with engraving, including the exceptional ‘bris de verre’ motif, has a power reserve of 10 days and oscillates at a frequency of 18,000 vph.
Measuring 46 mm x 18.3 mm thick, the Récital 20 Astérium® will be available from June in a total limited edition of 60 pieces in red or white gold with an alligator skin bracelet, priced at CHF335,000 excl. tax. Platinum is available on request.