February 27, 2019
by Rob Nudds
Sometimes, it seems as if too many brands struggle to take their female consumers seriously. This pervasive sense of “fashion first,” rather than watchmaking, drives me, and a lot of my female colleagues, mad. Thankfully, Bovet is willing to be different. With the release of the Bovet Récital 23 Moon Phase watch, the company doesn’t just buck the trend — they boot it to outer space.
Let’s get something straight. There’s nothing wrong with diamonds; there’s nothing wrong with femininity. These aspects of watch design are not insulting when they are applied to a product that has been genuinely and thoughtfully designed for women. They only become problematic when they are used as camouflage.
In this regard, the Bovet Récital 23 Moon Phase watch is an immediate success. The diamonds are delicious embellishments to a case that is designed for reading and wearing comfort with a “writer’s desk” sloping dial. The three dimensional celestial scene playing out on the dial through the use of aventurine glass, diamond-setting, and dedicated movement frosting is majestic. Truly, this is one of the most attractive watches I believe I have ever seen. And if aventurine glass isn’t your thing, it can be substituted for black Tahitian mother-of-pearl adorned with a delicate guilloché motif.
The 3D moon phase indicator at 12 o’clock is engraved and filled with luminous material. I was not expecting a watch of this style to have any glow-in-the-dark elements, but it’s pretty exciting that it does. The uniquely curved hands form a love heart as they cross each other’s path every hour. It’s a very cute touch that, thanks to the immense amount of quality surrounding such a potentially chintzy element, comes off as assured rather than asinine.
I love a bit of cleverness when it comes to case design. It’s so difficult to design something identifiable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, most of the “obvious” shapes have been taken. The ones left over have often been left over for a reason. Secondly, round or ovular watches are simply more popular. Why? Because they make more sense. If you are going to use a different shape, you should really use a different time telling method. (HYT H3 nailed this, if you want a working example.)
But changing the profile silhouette? Genius. Not only does it work from an identity perspective, it also works from a perspective perspective. It’s a smart move that many watches could benefit from following. Of course, this kind of sloping style doesn’t suit every kind of watch. It would require a slim movement and no need of significant water resistance to pull it off. But where possible, it would be welcome.
The sloped oval case of the Bovet Récital 23 Moon Phase watch measures just 27.8mm across the middle. At its widest (the 12-6 axis), it comes in at 40mm. It is available in either 18-karat red or white gold and, quite remarkably, in titanium, also.
The movement is not breathtaking to look at, but it is nicely finished. The 22 karat gold rotor weight adds a touch of opulence that marries well with the overall look of the watch. Caliber 11DA17-MP is a twin-barreled self-winding movement with a 62-hour power reserve. The moon phase complication is so accurate that it need only be corrected once every 120 years.
I really like this watch. I think Bovet should be highly commended for cramming such a lot of functionality into an eminently wearable, aesthetically dynamite timepiece for women. I’d be very keen to see the titanium version in real life, and would even consider wearing it, myself. That’s assuming I could muster the necessary CHF 45,000 starting price (for the models without diamond-studded cases). There are five references available, the most expensive being the one pictured (ref. R230001-SD14). Set with 246 diamonds totalling 1.99 carat weight, this piece commands a top-end price of CHF 95,000. As expensive as it is, it really does stand out in a crowd for me as one of the most exceptional women’s timepieces of the past five years. Visit bovet.com to learn more.