Life, whether personal or professional, is about building relationships, so when Bovet invites you to a special evening at Watches of Switzerland in Knightsbridge, you ensure your diary is clear.
For anyone educated on the subject, Bovet needs no introduction. However a wider awareness of the maison is still lacking and so it is working incredibly hard to increase the public’s knowledge of the beautiful watches it makes, especially in the UK market. This month there have been pop ups at Watches of Switzerland to introduce Bovet to clients of the retailer and this evening marked a celebration of that achievement.
In attendance from the brand was Rolf Van Kleef, Head of Sales for Bovet for Europe and South America. With him was Tiago Henriques, of Fogg Distribution, which deals with Bovet’s distribution in the UK. I had been fortunate to meet both on another, previous, occasion for drinks and knew what to expect; both are engaging, fun and, ultimately, love the brand.
It’s worth pointing out that, on occasions like this, sometimes brands do not have their ‘big hitters’ there for clients to view. Instead, they have made the decision to have some of their more ‘accessible’ timepieces on show, in an effort to entice clients to buy there and then. Bovetis not cut from that cloth however; this is about education, not sales per se, and so they had ensured each of their watches, many of which cost far north of £100,000 were in attendance.
My Personal Favourite – The Virtuoso VII
Elsewhere on The Peaked Lapel, you will find a review of the Virtuoso VII, which I had the pleasure of reviewing whilst I attended Bovet’s headquarters in Fleurier, Switzerland. It’s a double sided retrograde perpetual calendar on the Amadeo case and, in my view, represents an incredible proposition for the money Bovet charges. At around 70,000CHF, given the complication, movement and level of finishing on show, this price represents value for money. Many will think I am ridiculous in such an assertion, but consider it like this: if one of the ‘Holy Trinity’, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin produced this piece, it would easily command a six figure price tag.
The Recital 26 – The Brainstorm
This was the piece that, if you forgive the pun, took SIHH 2019, by storm. Given what has gone before and my review of the Virtuoso VIII, a flying tourbillon, three-dimensional moon phase, big date and 10 days’ power reserve might now be par for the course when considering Bovet’s ‘grande complications’ pieces. But with The Brainstorm, the maison has given it an extreme, modern twist. Incorporating the ‘writing slope’ case, meaning 12 o’clock is thicker than 6 o’clock, this provides not only an interesting shape but also real depth. It is made entirely out of sapphire crystal, known not only for its hardness and rigidity but also its lightness.
I should say I have seen two versions of this watch; whilst at the Bovet House, one with a black sub dial and the one we have here, which is blue quartz. My impressions of the first, having been given some time to handle it, were that this combination did not work. It was too stark and, this might sound strange to say for a watch that costs over £200,000, but it did not have the look of a piece from such a stratosphere. The latter, however, is changed completely by the blue sub dial, which is translucent thereby adding depth and, as a result, becomes something very special indeed.
In terms of functions, the hours and minutes are set at 12oclock, on the blue (in this example) sub dial. In order to make the most of the fact this is the deepest part of the case, Bovet produced a bespoke ‘high hand fitting’ whilst, of course, their attention to finishing is as detailed as ever – the gilded titanium carriage bridge, which allows this setting to be completed, takes one specialist two days to complete the required decoration alone. The power reserve is set at 4 o’clock through a crescent shaped indicator, whilst at 8 o’clock is the big date, set on sapphire crystal unit discs to ensure the transparent theme is retained and giving the impression the numbers appear, as if by magic.
Lastly, returning to 12 o’clock, both in the watch and the blue quartz sub dial, is the three-dimensional moon phase. The lunar surfaces are engraved, naturally, to increase the realism of the piece and injected with Super-Luminova. The sky is represented by two circular aventurine (a glass fused with copper, created in the 17th century) plates, which provides the apertures through which the waxing and waning of the moon can be read.
This is all without mentioning the beautiful flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock . . .
It is only when you are up close and personal with these pieces and, perhaps more importantly, have the opportunity to wear them, you begin to realise how special they are, which is precisely why I wanted to bring The Peaked Lapel to life – to try and give a real view as to what these watches and cars are about, not just roll off a few facts that the manufacturers tell the reviewers to report. In the world of high-end watches, or indeed any industry where we discuss those at the top of their game, attention to detail is a phrase used often but seldom appreciated for its true meaning. Bovet is, however, a brand that encapsulates its very essence and, in my view, is raising the bar with each new piece it creates. What Pascal Raffy has achieved in the short time he has owned the maison is incredible and I can only see them going from strength to strength.
Once again, I would like to extend my sincere thanks go to Rolf, from Bovet, for his kind invitation.