Graham Tourbillon Orrery Watch With Christophe Claret Movement Hands-On

Graham Tourbillon Orrery Watch With Christophe Claret Movement Hands-On

Graham Tourbillon Orrery Watch With Christophe Claret Movement Hands-On Hands-On

The Tourbillon Orrery by Swiss Graham was among the more unique watches we were lucky to see at Baselworld 2013. Graham vacillates between producing bold sport watches and classic timepieces often with an astronomical component. The Swiss brand's namesake is George Graham, a well regarded British horologist who was instrumental in many innovations and achievements, especially when it came to astronomical timekeeping and measuring. That should explain a bit why the Tourbillon Orrery has an old-world look, and little heavenly bodies moving around on the dial.

Graham will produce just 20 pieces of this unique watch - which in our opinion has nothing even remotely like it. "Orrery" is the name for a large clock-style planetarium that George Graham made in the 18th century. It seems to refer to a classification of astronomical devices used to show the movements of the Earth, the Moon, and Mars around the sun. In wristwatch form, the Tourbillon Orrery reproduces all of that.

Graham Tourbillon Orrery Watch With Christophe Claret Movement Hands-On Hands-On

From a design perspective, Graham wanted the watch to look both interesting but also recall the style and technology of watch making in George Graham's day. The most unique element of the dial is in the middle with a hand-engraved cage over the tourbillon. Timepiece enthusiasts will recognize this style has having been used on many of the earliest pocket watches. Here it has been used with a diamond in the middle to cover the tourbillon. Right away you see one of the interesting quirks of the Tourbillon Orrery. That being that while it does have a dial visible tourbillon complication, it is almost hidden by the decorative element on top of it.

Nothing on the watch is perfectly centered. The tourbillon is slightly to the left, while the hands for the hours and minute are slightly to the right. Given that there is no simple scale for the time, it is not easy to read the time on this watch. Having said that, there is a scale for the hours and minutes away from the hands, on the periphery of the dial. Interestingly enough the markers do sort of line up to the eccentric position of the hands, but this isn't a piece most people are going to read at a mere glance. Having said that, you are more likely to stare at the small marbles that represent Earth and Mars in an attempt to read the time.

Graham Tourbillon Orrery Watch With Christophe Claret Movement Hands-On Hands-On

Graham Tourbillon Orrery Watch With Christophe Claret Movement Hands-On Hands-On

What you'd actually be looking at is the relative position of the Earth, moon, and Mars around what would be the Sun in the center. You'll have to live with a diamond serving as the Sun, or perhaps the tourbillon. The movement is cleverly designed to have them move with time, and you can read the current calendar data by seeing the position of the Earth. What is really cool is that the movement allows you to adjust the planetarium both forward and backwards in time. The calendar scales display the month, date, as well as zodiac.

Sadly our little red ruby Mars doesn't get an indicator. If you are a Martian then you'll be upset that Mars calendar indicators are missing. Another piece of calendar data is found on the rear of the watch in the form of a sapphire disc with the years on it. The disc has something like 100 years on it, offering yet another way of tracking the passage of time. In a sense it is both depressing to know that you'll not live to see too much of the calendar move, but nice to know that if you are watching it, you've not only purchased this watch, but can ideally pass it down to an heir who will be able to see the end of the disc, and replace it.

Yes, Graham offers two extra year discs with the Tourbillon Orrery. They are supplied in the event that the Tourbillon Orrery watch is carefully passed down a few generations and the person in possession of it at the right time takes it to a watchmaker to get serviced. Come to think of it, I would really like to know what watchmakers will be like (let alone the state of the watch industry) in 300 years.

What do you think?
  • I want it! (11)
  • Thumbs up (3)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Classy (0)
  • I love it! (0)
  • Ulysses31

    Beautiful watch, especially those bridges with the Geneva stripes radiating away from one point like a rippling wave on water.  The hands look a bit lost amongst the rest of the details.

  • Kris C

    Very interesting. Reading the time (or trying to) makes me feel a little drunk, but you’d get used to it I supposed. I mean, you would buy this to wear basically daily, right?
    Maybe I’m alone here, but I taste a little Gruebel Forsey in all the markings and indicators all over the dial done in relief. Nice.

  • Lesthepom

    WoW this is one of those watches that probably didn’t need making but I am glad they did It just goes to show what can be dun with a big fat cheque book and several thousand hours

  • Spend one eighth of that and get a Van Der Klauuw, get the full monte of planets circling the sun in a much prettier watch. I mean what’s $50k if you have $330k to spend on a watch you’d wear twice in a lifetime? People that spend this much on a watch forget how to find the kitchens in their homes, much less figure out “where’d I out that drat watch I bought last week.?”

  • MarkCarson

    I think this was the most expensive watch I got to place on my wrist at BaselWorld. I don’t even recalling seeing the hands at the time! Graham’s CEO personally was making the presentation of this watch to each group (so he was doing it about 20 times a day). The unveiling was from an elaborate box, ta da!!! It sure was impressive to see and handle this piece. But also a big critter – certainly not a 36mm Rolex on the wrist. More mechanical art than a watch.
    I don’t know why they have January 1 at 5 o’clock on the dial. Makes no sense to me. And I think a canary diamond in the center for the sun would have worked better. I know, picky picky pick – especially by someone will probably never see one of these works of art again. And “hobycook” is right, the Van Der Klauuw watches shows more planets.

  • Kudos to you for having laid eyes and hands on this “critter”.  For the sake of a modest man’s house and all that’s in it, I hope never to be as “lucky” as you, lest I succumb and sell forward my grandchildren’s future…
    I do think the  CVDK PLANETARIUM CKPT1124 is a prettier piece – and arguably more attainable; it’s only the price of an SUV, and who needs another one of those?*

    • MarkCarson


      “…and who needs another one of those?”
      Me of course!I
      agree that the  Van Der Klauuw pieces are nicer looking, cheaper (OK,
      less expensive) and  have more planets. To be fair the Graham does have
      the moon and it rotates around the Earth as it orbits the sun. If money
      were no object, I could see getting the Graham as a collectors piece,
      but I would actually a Van Der Klauuw. Cheers.

  • Mark, you could get the Planetarium AND the Venus, which has Venus plus the moon revolving around the Earth, and all of the above revolving around the sun, for less than half price for the Graham!  I have to admit, I really like the whole Christiaan Van Der Klaauw line.   I should also disclose that a few years ago I bought a Graham Oversize Chronofighter. I was extremely disappointed in the piece. The quality of fit & finish and materials were incredibly below-par, and on a 47mm watch bad execution sticks out like a sore thumb. It was junk of the worst kind – pretentious junk.  I sold it within a week, and I have had a poor opinion of Graham ever since.  Not so my experience with (fellow British Masters make) Arnold & Son which IMO has always done a great job.  I know that the lowly Chronofighter has no proper place in comparison to the piece reviewed here, but I do think that a watchmaker pretending to grand status in the horological world has a special obligation to make sure that even the most modest piece that bears their name is exemplary in every way for its intended market segment.  ‘Nuff said…

    • Ulysses31

      hobycook That’s interesting.  I don’t like the Chronofighter that much (there are a few models that look good), but it always gets rave reviews on this site.  I didn’t even know the quality was an issue, thanks for the info.

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  • Seth Lim

    i like these watches, just waiting for one named seth. that would justify strapping a house on my wrist

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