September 15, 2020
There are many elements to consider when designing a watch. Obviously, functionality and legibility is always an important consideration, but a great timepiece design might also focus on innovation, comfort, symmetry, or pure opulence. One of the most powerful tools in a designer’s arsenal, however, is drama. Creating a dramatic design can be a must in the rarified and fanciful world of haute horlogerie, and few brands have used this sense of drama more effectively than Bovet. Over the years, the brand has developed a singular aesthetic blending skeletonized mechanical complexity with clear visual balance. This stylistic balancing act is sharply exemplified in the ornate limited edition Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two, displaying a double-faced flying tourbillon, moonphase, and second time zone together in a unique domed format that allows for easy readability at a variety of angles.
The 47.8mm sapphire case of the Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two is dominated by the prominent slope running from 12 o’clock down to its lowest point at 6 o’clock. While adding more visual spectacle to a clear sapphire case is no easy feat, this “writing desk” shape is both an immediate attention-grabber on the wrist and a clever way to maximize legibility of all dial elements from an oblique angle. Reading the watch at a glance as it sits on a desk, for example, becomes second nature after a moment. The inner titanium support ring and lugs are nicely minimized in the overall visual profile as well, allowing for as unobstructed a view of the dial and movement as possible without sacrificing too much in the way of rigidity.
The dial of the Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two is a careful balancing act between the subdials and movement, as well as between legibility and a certain sense of baroque mechanical intricacy. Every complication, save the flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, sits in its own domed module on top of the movement base for a symmetrical, almost architectural look. The 12 o’clock dome is the largest, housing the main timekeeping subdial, and is also the source of the greatest departure from our initial introduction to the watch back in June 2020. In press images, Bovet displayed the prototype with a 12 o’clock dome made from translucent blue quartz, allowing the ornate gear train beneath to shine through while tying in visually to the blue elements of the moonphase and second time zone subdials. On our sample, however, this main 12 o’clock dome is rendered in engraved black aventurine glass (variants are available with a black aventurine, blue quartz, or green quartz dome). The aventurine is stunning in its own way, sparkling like the night sky at various angles, but the opacity blocking the gear train beneath and the visual disconnect from the other blue subdials dampens the sense of visual harmony somewhat. The 9 o’clock moonphase subdial, however, remains a brilliantly detailed execution, with deeply etched surfacing for the moon segments bisected by an elegantly slim figure-eight frame forming the actual moonphase window for both northern and southern hemispheres. Likewise, at 3 o’clock the integration between the circle of time zones and the slowly rotating outer hour ring is clean and instantly intuitive. Bovet’s integration of the flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock is suitably dramatic as well, seemingly hanging out over the void at the edge of the movement while the double-sided design makes it visually dynamic when viewed through the caseback, as well.
At the center of the Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two lies the manufacture 17DM06-DT hand-wound movement. While balanced and dramatic while viewed through the skeleton dial structure, the 17DM06-DT truly comes alive when viewed from below. The complex web of skeleton bridges are all finished with a sparkling hammered pattern and mirror beveled. The result is a real departure from most skeleton movements, balancing clear lines with a mystifying amount of tiny changing reflections at differing angles. The five-day power reserve is tracked through a small indicator at the 12 o’clock side of the case between the lugs, while the relatively low 21,600 bph beat rate keeps the oscillations of the tourbillon from becoming an indistinct blur.
Like the case and movement, the strap for the Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two seems fine-tuned for maximum visual drama. The overall design is simple, an alligator leather strap in deep royal blue, but the details set this apart from its competitors. Firstly, there’s the deep, glossy finish. Appearing almost liquid in its shine, this gloss helps to accentuate the creases and ridges of the material while also highlighting the depth of color visible here. The other touch is a sheer luxury power play. The contrasting silver stitching is fine platinum thread, catching the light far more aggressively than traditional thread. The end result is a strap that plays off the blue tones of the dial well while becoming a focal point for the design in its own way.
With the Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two, Bovet has reinforced its mastery of visual drama in watch design, without neglecting legibility or balance in the slightest. While this is a limited edition, Bovet itself is unclear on the exact details, with the brand claiming 60 movements will be made to be divided among 30 sapphire cases. This would seem to suggest a non-sapphire variant in the future for the final 30 movements. That said, the sapphire cased limited edition Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two is available now through authorized dealers, with an MSRP of $383,500. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.