Some timepieces offer plenty of style over substance, others plenty of substance over style. Augustman asks: why not both?
Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon
Set in the middle of an exceptional galvanised brass guilloché dial painstakingly coated with 20 layers of translucent lacquer, the Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon is the worldʼs first centre tourbillon in a tonneau-shaped Cintrée Curvex case.
The result of over a year of painstaking research and development, central tourbillons are rarely practiced by watchmakers. The worldʼs first was patented by Omega S.A., encompassing a tourbillon escapement visible on the dial side without any obstruction and the use of a fixed wheel with radial toothing to drive hour and minute discs.
Under the protection of this patent, Omega has been producing a limited number of its central tourbillons in a special high-end workshop in Bienne. Hence, Franck Muller had to find its own solution.
The use of a central tourbillon poses a number of challenges including finding a different way of displaying the hours and minutes while redistributing movement components around the tourbillon. Enjoying a generous 4 days of power reserve, the Grand Central Tourbillonʼs hour and minute hands are innovatively placed around the central tourbillon cage, drawing attention to the complexity of the movement within, in an ingenious “stacking” of complications.
Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon
Haute joaillerie meets haute horlogerie with the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon. We say this because drenched in a dazzling array of gemstones, it is quite likely that you will notice the glitter and glamour before you take notice of the completely open worked dial and its majestically orbiting flying tourbillon beneath.
Decorated with a variety of brilliant- or baguette-cut gemstones, multicoloured gemstones in as many as 468 brilliant- or 208 baguettecut graded gems cover most of the faceted surfaces on the Royal Oak Concept. The progression of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple hues emphasise the geometry of the case and bezel, reflecting light to create a kaleidoscopic effect with ambient light.
While a flying tourbillon is considered a horological complication, there are equivalent amounts of painstaking precision required in the assemblage of gems as well. Each baguette needs to be perfectly symmetrical and aligned according to the lines and stepped facets of the Royal Oak Concept. Thereʼs also the added challenge of finding coloured stones which allow for smooth gradation and transition between the hues and colours.
Urwerk UR-112 Agreggat
Inspired by a dream of a new mechanical challenge, the beauty of the Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat lies in the complexity of its gears. A one off production run part of the Special Project Collection, the brandʼs latest “sci-fi” stunner follows in the same vein as the UR-111C, continuing to display prism shaped satellite digital jumping hours and minutes displayed in a pair of glass cylinders separated by a spine, a design detail inspired by the grill of the Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic coupe.
Measuring 42mm-wide and 51mm-long, the wedge-like titanium case of the UR-112 Aggregat looks nothing like a conventional watch, which isnʼt saying much when you consider that while most Urwerk watches look anything but conventional, they at least at pointers and dials which indicated they measured time.
Pressing down twin pushers along the 3 oʼclock and 9 oʼclock sides of the case, the top ridged cover swings open, revealing a pair of squared-off sapphire display windows showcasing the movement, the seconds subdial, and power reserve indicator.
(Images: Respective Brands)