January 14, 2019
by Carol Besler
Aside from the amazing flinqué guilloché and the spiky tourbillon carriage with its center sapphire, my favorite thing about the Bovet Virtuoso IX watch is the gothic-style font for the date display and the serpentine center minutes hand. This is an extremely decorative watch yet somehow subtle in design, with its matte white and rose gold details amidst that extraordinary deep blue background. The fact that it is also a dual timer with a flying tourbillon escapement is a bonus that adds mechanical virtuosity as well. Is it too lavish to be considered masculine?
Model: Virtuoso IX
Case Dimensions: 46.30mm, 16mm thick
Water Resistance: 30m
Case Material: 18k red gold, white gold, or platinum
Crystal: Sapphire crystal front and back
Diamonds: 45 round brilliant diamonds totaling 0.1 carat
Movement: Hand-wound caliber 17BM04-DFR
Power Reserve: 10 days
Strap/Bracelet: Full skin alligator
Price and availability: 230,000 CHF
At 46.3mm, this is a big watch, so it is not necessarily made for ladies. If it were decisively so, it would be set somewhere with diamonds, which is the main differentiator in an era when highly finished watches are made for both genders. Even the crown and strap attachment at 6 o’clock on the brand’s signature Fleurier Amadeo convertible case is a decorative element – is it meant to evoke a belt buckle or a handbag buckle? It could represent either. The case also works as a table clock, or a pocket watch, which not too many women wear.
The scroll-like “bris de verre” engraving and blue finish on the openworked bridges of the movement, seen through the caseback, are as beautiful as the engraving on the front dial. I would wear this watch as a pendant, and not worry about which side is facing out. It contains a new movement, the hand-wound caliber 17BM04-DFR, with a flying tourbillon escapement and a spherical deferential winding system that requires half the number of turns to wind the mainspring.
The Virtuoso IX represents to me the perfect balance between decorative and technical elements. It does this while preserving and reinforcing the iconic design elements of the brand, which are often abandoned by other brands that, as soon as they apply decorative elements, end up with a watch that veers so far from signature design codes that it could be a special edition made by almost any other brand. The functions are well-organized and readable, including a second time zone, with the city noted in a window on the top left of the local time subdial. Both local time and home time share the same (gorgeous) minute hand. The correctors take into account the difference between daylight savings time and standard time. The power reserve indicator is also straightforward, like the battery indicator on a cell phone. Price is 230,000 CHF. Learn more at bovet.com
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