Say hello to the Cambiano. Doesn't that sound Italian? I sure hope so. This watch represents one of the pieces that is a combo effort between Swiss Bovet and Italian Pininfarina. The two companies have been working together on watches for a while. The first model that resulted from the relationship was the Pininfarina Tourbillon Ottana that I covered here. Certainly a very cool super high-end piece. Still up there but more down to earth is the Cambiano, which I first discussed here. Pretty much each year the Cambiano gets a slightly different treatment. The most current model for 2012 I covered here.
According to Bovet, Pininfarina has pretty much complete design freedom when it comes to these watches. Of course the timepieces need to have that Bovet DNA, and still be something that can be produced, but you get the idea. If this is true, then what you are looking at just might be a design from the same people who bring you the look of Ferrari cars. I further like the shared branding on the Cambiano pieces. On the back of the strap pieces, on the automatic movement rotor, and on the dial, each brand shares logo space. It is however, done in an elegant way that isn't confusing or busy. That usually isn't the case with shared branding timepieces.
Let's discuss the Amadeo "convertible case" for a moment. While the case design is unique the Cambiano, it is within the Bovet Amadeo case family. These cases came out a few years ago and transform into a few styles. Basically, you can detach the straps and open a "foot" on the back of the watch. There is also an optional chain attachment. What this all does is offer a timepiece that can be a wrist watch, desk clock, pendant watch, or pocket watch. While it is a good idea for a Bovet brand person to show you how to properly transform the watch, it is a logical and well-engineered system. What I like best is that the straps feel really secure once they are attached to the case. If someone hadn't shown me how it worked, it would not have surprised me if the straps felt loose or wobbly when attached. That isn't the case here.
Chances are that 90% (or more) of the time you are going to be using the Cambiano (or any Amadeo-cased piece) as a wrist watch. Nevertheless, it makes for a fun thing to show your friends, and adds a certain degree of interest and fun to the piece. Bovet is among a few brands which offer these "convertible" style watches - I did a little round-up article of others here a little while back.
You'll notice that all Bovet cases have a "ribbon style" crown protector. This is based on the brand's history of making pocket watches. The crown is also located at the 12 o'clock position. In chronograph form, this layout is often referred to as a "bull-head" style chronograph - as the pushers look like horns on the top of the case. How does all this effect wearability? Not as much as you'd think. The "ribbon" bends all the way down if necessary, making the watch feel almost identical to those with more traditional style lugs. It is possible that the watch sits a bit taller on the wrist though. I didn't find it to be at all a problem during the piece's extensive time on my wrist.
The Cambiano watch case is 45mm wide in steel. There are different finishes from bead-blasted to polished. The inner case barrel makes it look like a can. A can containing a really fancy set of gears. It is a cool design being modern and minimalistic. The dial design however is not very minimalistic - and that isn't bad. At first I was worried that it might prove controversial. Though when I started to show the watch off to people they liked it a lot. I suppose the combo of metal finishes, skeletonized openings, and traditional watch design paid off well. For all the decorative value it has, Pininfarina really made sure to maintain a healthy amount of legibility and utility. For me that is the strongest aspect of the dial. The hands are the right length and the chronograph subdials are totally straight forward. The only whimsical element is the "steering wheel" style subsidiary seconds hand. Protecting the dial is a very high quality AR coated sapphire crystal. You know it is a good crystal when it almost disappears and you feel as though you can put your finger right on the dial.
For me, the dial has proven itself after long periods of use. I like to look at it and read it. In addition to the time and chronograph, there is also a big date complication using black discs. Don't miss the signature "serpentine" chronograph seconds hand. There is some darkness viewing ability as the hands are applied with luminant. What do you think? Does the dial of the Cambiano do it for you?
While Bovet does make some of their own movements, the Cambiano uses a base ETA movement that has been highly modified and enhanced. I am not totally sure what the base is, but it does have some Valjoux 7750 architecture. Bovet claims that the movement uses something like 70-90% unique parts from anything offered by ETA, and there is of course that big date complication. I found the operation and reliability of the movements to be very good, and had no issues.
There is also the matter of the movement's beauty. It is a very sexy looking movement. Through the rear sapphire crystal caseback window you get a nice view of all the colors and textures. Bovet and Pininfarina did a great job and this is one of the sexiest looking 7750 architectures I have ever seen. I like the thin style automatic rotor that does its best to allow for an unobstructed view into the movement. The view of the movement is really a highlight of this piece. While it might not be exotic in the strictest of senses, having a 7750 architecture does reassure me about its performance.
Attached to the Cambiano is a really high-quality rubber strap with an Alcantara leather lining. The chain attachment is sold separately I believe. Technically speaking the watch isn't a limited edition, but since new Bovet Cambiano watches are released each year, there are certainly limited production pieces. Price is $24,200, and the one you just read about is the 2012 edition model.