|Reference||Virtuoso VIII, limited edition|
|Case||Red / white gold / platinum, 44mm|
|Bezel||Rose / white gold / platinum|
|Dial||Blue with sapphire dial with power reserve, seconds, big date and tourbillion|
|Movement||Mechanical, hand wound Virtuoso VIII specialty calibre|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 30m / 98 ft|
|Power Reserve||Ten days|
|Functions||Big Date, Tourbillion, seconds, power reserve, double sided, Amadeo case.|
|Bracelet||Hand stitched black alligator strap with 18 carat gold clasp|
As part of my passion for horology, in the last few years I have been fortunate to view, try and comment on a vast number and variety of watches. As a result, one can become a little immune to them. That’s not to say you do not value and appreciate the craftsmanship exhibited in each piece, regardless of the manufacturer or price, but the bar is such that it takes something truly exquisite to force you to stand back and remark, ‘Wow’.
Created to mark the maison’s 195th anniversary, the Virtuoso VIII is a partially skeletonised ‘Big Date Tourbillon’ that, for me, did exactly that.
It was the first piece in Bovet’s Fleurier collection that incorporated an inclined crystal aperture along the 6 to 12 o’clock axis; a feature that has also been utilised in the Recital 18 Shooting Star and the Recital 20 Asterium. This allows for a greater viewing platform of the movement as well as an elegantly enhanced wrist presence.
Bovet is adamant in its philosophy that watches must remain true to four key characteristics, so I will use these to demonstrate why the Virtuoso VIII is so exceptional.
The calibre in the Virtuoso VIII uses a single barrel, providing over 10 days of power, all the while maintaining the balance wheel oscillating at 18,000 vibrations per hour.
The tourbillon in the Virtuoso VIII is patented to Bovet, it being a double faced, flying tourbillon. The fixed point at the centre of its axis, together with the distribution either side of the escapement, coupled with the balance-spring, provides a balance that drastically reduces the lever-arm effect and friction at the pivot point. To improve the performance further, Bovet produced a new ‘regulating organ’ specifically for the tourbillon.
Both sides of the plate in the Virtuoso VIII have bridges, decorated with Fleurisanne engraving, that hark back to Bovet’s artisanal pocket watch past. The steel is chamfered and polished while the disc plates are sunk and chamfered. Both sides of the plate are engraved in the most delightfully delicate pattern. The tourbillon carriage is fashioned out of titanium, not only reducing mass but also eliminating magnetic charge. Accordingly, peering into this watch you have the wonderful feeling you are, in fact, looking into something from a totally different era.
The front dial provides for the time, with the hands mounted centrally, with the power reserve dial set at 10 o’clock. Sweeping from left to right, in a stunning droplet like shape, is the ‘big date’ aperture. In this version both are finished in sensational aventurine, providing contrast and depth. The ‘big date’ function was created in such a way so as to display the date but with a mechanism occupying the smallest possible area. Additionally, the Virtuoso VIII incorporates a quick date set feature, by simply depressing the crown.
The seconds display is no less ingenious. To do so, Bovet uses an hour marker screwed to the carriage wheel, while the dial itself is fixed to the plate during the first assembly of the watch.
As if all that was not enough, the revolutionary part about Bovet is many of the models incorporate the Amadeo case. Introduced in 2010, this ingenious system allows the watch to be transformed into a reversible wristwatch, a table clock or a pocket watch (for men), without the use of any tools. The Virtuoso VIII is one of those watches and, as a result, this piece is one of supreme artisanal class.
The Virtuoso VIII is a superlative piece of horological craftsmanship and is singular in its focus; to be one of the most beautiful watches you can buy. It is, of course, a dress watch in the truest sense of the word but looks incredible in any environment, albeit perhaps best to leave sporting or water pursuits to other brands and models.
Ultimately the Bovet Virtuoso VIII is a truly sensational showstopper of a watch that demands attention and respect, all the while doing so in the most graceful manner. A true grail piece.
The Bovet Virtuoso VIII retails for 195,000CHF for red gold and 205,000CHF for white gold versions. Both are limited to 39 pieces each. It is also available in platinum, 255,000CHF, but only on request.