October 2, 2012
by Ariel Adams
I walked into the kitchen with this on and my girl said “nice watch.” I asked her if she knew what made it special or had any idea what it might be worth and she just said “I don’t really care.” That pretty much sums up most people’s perceptions of high horology on this planet. They can appreciate nice things visually, but when it comes to wanting to know all the nitty gritty nerdities which glue our eyes to the screen late at night, they don’t have much interest.
So what are we to do? Stand up on our soap boxes preaching the Swiss-made gospel or just be satisfied if our wrist worn mechanical objects of desire get noticed enough for a quick compliment? The truth about the world’s most expensive timepieces is that few people will notice or appreciate them. What Bovet has done here with a watch like the Recital 0 is play on that notion demanding people’s attention through the use of a fully skeletonized dial and movement. People can’t take their eyes off these I’ve noticed.
I am rather happy with how most of my amateur photographs of the Bovet Recital 0 came out. Though it wasn’t easy. This little guy is a devil to photograph – as is the case with watches that have dials and parts which excessively play with the light. The piece is a beguiling watch with an open window into its guts but not its secrets. I refer to the effort required to decorate the movement parts. A key element to the meaning of high-end “Swiss Made” is that mechanical movement parts are highly-decorated and finished. Bridges and plates in this Bovet-produced manually-wound tourbillon movement don’t come like that fresh out of a CNC milling machine. People handle the parts with care and polish them by hand. The time this can take varies, but it is an essential part of the six figure timepiece purchasing experience. You don’t just get a well made movement, you get a movement that has been mulled over by an entire team.
That is one of the key draws of the skeletonized movement. It is a visual representation, or perhaps just proof that your expensive watch doesn’t just contain run-of-the-mill (literally) parts. You friggin’ paid for that extra decoration and you want to see it. The best high-end brands are masters of serving those visuals to you on a plate. The dial on the Recital 0 even gives you more than half of the hour markers and nicely sized gold hands (with lume even!).
Several years ago in 2007 Bovet added a name to its roster; Dimier. Bovet Dimier pieces are a sort of sub-brand aesthetically. Some actually have “Dimier” as the brand on the dial. Most Bovet watches have that interesting looking “ribbon” crown guard over the crown placed at 12 o’clock to remind people of pocket watches. Dimier timepieces aren’t held by such aesthetic codes. While the dial of the Recital 0 doesn’t say Dimier, you’ll find the name on the movement back.
Recital 0 is a slightly controversial name for this watch. First of all, you can’t really begin counting with the number zero can you? Second, this piece is technically the Recital 8, as seven models preceded it. The reason Bovet opted to go with the Recital 0 name is very simple, as this watch more closely resembled the Recital 1 versus the 7. They could have called it the Recital 1.5 though. As far as Recital models go, this one is quite simple – with an emphasis on the time and tourbillon. It also throws in a very handy small power reserve indicator under 12 to remind you when to wind it. The movement has a full power reserve of 7 days.
A little while back I discussed the full Bovet Recital collection going from the Recital 1 through the 0. The curious collection started out simply, but quickly grew more and more complex. For a while, each new model seemed to just build on the last and add complications. This Recital 0 goes back to the Recital 1 and 2 in terms of having the time, tourbillon, and power reserve indicator only. As far as the “simple” Recitals go, the 0 is my favorite.
Bovet offers the Recital 0 in five versions. This includes a case size of 41mm wide or 45mm wide. The one I reviewed was the 45mm wide version. In addition to the two case sizes, you get a choice of a clean 18k red gold case or one that is decorated with an inner bezel ring of large baguette diamonds. That explains four versions, but I am still curious about the fifth. One thing I also don’t quite understand is the variation I have seen in the dial and movement finishing. This model has a super cool dark gray-toned movement with 18k red gold hands. Other models I have seen (such as those in the above linked article on the full range of Bovet Recital watches up to that point) have a lighter finished dial with blued-steel hands and blued steel screws in the movement. Like I said, I prefer those of the piece I reviewed as they help the dial look beautiful, being able to clearly see the many movement parts individually.
The movement offers a highly unobstructed view of the tourbillon, which adds a particular high-brow cache to the movement for “those” in the know. Notice that the tourbillon cage is relatively large being 14mm in diameter. The gold case is unique enough looking with an old-world charm that does seem to mix well with the modern finishing of the movement.
No one who has or will buy this watch will use it as their sole timepiece. If by chance someone does, I’d like to meet that person. This is a status watch for watch lovers. You need to appreciate mechanics and find the tourbillon interesting to look at to even consider this watch. You also need to appreciate the Recital 0’s slight avant garde design concept and family theme. With a bold look and optional diamond bezel, this is also a show-off watch. And for those who appreciate the wide range of Bovet watch aesthetics, you’ll agree that most of their timepieces fit into this category. Not that there is anything at all wrong with that. If you are spending $178,000 on a Bovet Recital 0, you want as many people as possible to notice it.