While there were plenty of standout timepieces that debuted at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2024, arguably some of the most interesting new releases were not actually part of the official show, and one of my personal favorites from the watches that I saw during my off-site meetings that week was the Vanguart Orb. We covered the launch of this watch back when it was first announced a few weeks ago, and you can find our original news story about it right here. Just by looking at the initial press photos, I already knew that this watch would be rather impressive; however, after getting a chance to try it on and experience it in the metal, I found Vanguart’s latest creation far more grail-worthy than I originally imagined.

At the time of writing, the Vanguart Orb is available in either full grade 5 titanium or the premium model featured here, which pairs a titanium central section with an outer case crafted from solid 18k rose gold. Both versions are hand-finished with sandblasted surfaces set against small mirror-polished accents, and while I rarely gravitate towards the precious metal renditions of watches, I found the rose gold model to be truly mesmerizing, with the warm hue of its outer case creating a strong visual contrast against the intricate mechanics of its internal movement.

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On paper, the case of the Vanguart Orb measures 41mm in diameter by 10.5mm thick, although the curved profile of the watch combined with its rounded integrated lugs creates a surprisingly compact overall package that wraps around the natural contours of the wrist. While the Orb is hardly a small and diminutive timepiece, its considered case proportions make it incredibly comfortable and easy to wear, and once I strapped the watch down to my wrist, I ultimately found it to feel noticeably smaller than its official on-paper dimensions might otherwise suggest.

Sapphire crystals are fitted to both the dial side of the Vanguart Orb and its caseback, although the front crystal features a concave profile that curves inwards along its vertical axis. Water resistance comes in at 30 meters to protect against incidental contact, and at the 3 o’clock location is a large multifunction crown that offers access to the movement. With that in mind, rather than pulling the crown outward to access its different modes of operation, the crown is essentially a button with a transmission-style coupling system, where you press the crown inwards to alternate between manual winding, automatic winding, and time-setting modes.

When I met with Vanguart in Geneva, only prototypes of the Orb were able to be photographed, so there are a few small differences between the watches pictured here and the final production version of the model. The markings on the barrel (visible at 12 o’clock) serve as a display for the mode of operation that is selected by the crown, and if you look closely at a couple of the photos, you will notice that the words “manual” and “automatic” are missing from the top of the barrel. Similarly, the movement and caseback for the prototypes don’t feature the engravings that will appear on the production models (although you can see them in the press photos from our original news article about the launch), and Vanguart also informed me that there will be a higher level of attention to detail when it comes to the finishing on the production versions of the Orb that will be delivered to its customers.

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Looking at the caseback of the Vanguart Orb, you will notice two small circular buttons located on the underside surface of its lugs, and these serve as a quick-release system for its integrated two-piece strap. Pressing the buttons detaches the strap from the case, and attaching a new one is as simple as clipping in the ends and pressing them until you hear the mechanism click and lock into place. Vanguart will be offering multiple different straps for the Orb including both rubber and leather options, although the version featured here is a taupe-colored rubber strap that is completed by a chunky tang-style buckle in 18k rose gold to match the case. The fitted ends of the strap continue the curvature established by the case, and the end result is a highly ergonomic overall package that evenly distributes the weight of the watch across the entire top surface of the wrist.

While the inherently modern multi-component case of the Vanguart Orb is certainly one of its standout features, the complex in-house movement is the true highlight of this particular model, and it sits on full display through both sides of the watch. Featuring a mainplate and bridges crafted from grade 5 titanium, the Orb’s movement consists of 395 individual components, and it runs at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 60 hours. Additionally, despite its complex functionality, the appearance of the movement with its entirely symmetrical layout is arguably one of its most noteworthy features, and just like the rest of the watch, the movement is hand-finished with sandblasted surfaces, satin brushing, and high-polished bevels.

Sitting at the 6 o’clock location on the dial side of the Vanguart Orb’s movement is a one-minute flying tourbillon, and since the watch winds itself with a PVD-coated titanium peripheral rotor that circles the dial, the view through the display caseback is entirely unobstructed to showcase its perfectly symmetrical architecture and meticulously finished components. While the finishing on the prototypes photographed for this article was already quite good, the production models will receive even more detailed finishing, and the central bridge on the reverse side of the movement will be engraved with Vanguart’s logo, along with the obligatory Swiss Made signature, which will also appear on the dial side of the watch at the very bottom of the sloped chapter ring that sits under the concave sapphire crystal.

Rather than appearing around the perimeter of the movement on the reverse side of the watch, the Vanguart Orb places its peripheral rotor on the front, and this creates one of the model’s party-piece features. Appearing as a smooth sloped ring positioned between the outer rehaut that contains the luminous hour markers and the central open-worked section that is occupied by the movement, the peripherally-mounted rotor circles the dial and works with the prominently displayed flying tourbillon to create a highly dynamic visual appearance. The curvature of the rotor continues the slope established by the outer chapter ring to create a continuous fluid shape between the edge of the crystal and the intricate mechanics that occupy the central section of the dial.

The Vanguart Orb’s rotor is adorned with a single 2mm brilliant-cut diamond that is positioned on the opposite side of the rotor’s solid gold counterweight, and this gives it the appearance of floating as it moves towards the top of the dial whenever the watch is lifted vertically to reference the time. Additionally, the rotor only turns when the watch is set to its automatic winding mode, and pressing the crown to switch the movement to manual winding locks the rotor in place, with the diamond instantly aligning at the 12 o’clock location to preserve the sense of symmetry that exists throughout the rest of the watch.

The Vanguart Orb displays the time with a pair of partially skeletonized luminous hands at the center of its dial, while a small red triangle located on the inner section of the barrel indicates the current function setting for the crown. The triangle points to either “manual” or “automatic” depending on the selected winding mode, while it points downwards to the hands to denote the time-setting position. The inward slope of the chapter ring and rotor creates a significant amount of visual depth, and the barrel, hands, and flying tourbillon are elevated above the rest of the movement to create a highly architectural overall appearance.

Grail-worthy watches are almost always accompanied by similarly grail-worthy prices, and just by looking at this piece and its on-paper specs, you can probably tell that this watch will be rather expensive. Consequently, prices for the Vanguart Orb start out at 150,000 CHF for the full-titanium version or $180,000 CHF for the rose gold version that is pictured here (which works out to approximately $165,000 USD and $197,000 USD, at the time of writing). Additionally, while production will not be capped at a specific number of examples, availability of the Vanguart Orb will be fairly limited, simply due to its numerous hand-finished components and the brand’s small-batch approach to the creation of its watches. At this price point, a number of fantastic watches will also be within reach, although even within a sea of exceptional timepieces, the Vanguart Orb stands out as a truly unique offering, and it easily ranks among the most impressive and visually arresting watches that I saw during my week in Geneva. For more information on the Vanguart Orb, please visit the brand’s website.

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