Sometimes you see a watch and admire it for the practicality of its design or features, and other times you see a watch that is just flat-out cool, and the new Vanguart Orb is very much of the latter variety. Featuring a flying tourbillon with a decidedly modern and futuristic appearance, arguably the single most interesting detail of Vanguart’s latest creation is that wearers can select between manual and automatic winding, and the winding itself is carried out by a ring-shaped oscillating weight that is prominently displayed below the hands on the side of the watch.

Available in either titanium or rose gold, the case of the new Vanguart Orb Flying Tourbillon measures 41mm in diameter by 10.5mm thick (including the crystal), and it is entirely hand-finished with sandblasted surfaces set against satin-brushed and mirror-polished accents. Cut-outs in the side of the case reveal a contrasting internal section, while sapphire crystals fitted to either side of the watch offer an obstructed view of its internal mechanics. A crown located on the side of the case at 3 o’clock offers access to the movement, while water resistance comes in at 30 meters to protect against incidental contact, and the overall profile of the Vanguart Orb is decidedly contemporary, with its rounded surfaces creating a luxurious yet futuristic appearance.

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Just like other timepieces that keep the visual emphasis on their mechanics, the new Vanguart Orb foregoes a traditional dial, although the architecture of its movement adheres to a strong sense of symmetry to create an aesthetically harmonious display. At the center of the dial are a pair of partially skeletonized hands with Super-LuminNova accents that display the time against a sloped PVD-coated titanium inner bezel that has recessed luminous hour markers. The flying tourbillon is proudly displayed on the lower half of the dial, while the mainspring barrel is positioned opposite it at the 12 o’clock location, and the upper section of the barrel is fitted with a winding-setting display to indicate whether the movement is currently set to manual or automatic winding modes.

Sitting directly below the hands of the Vanguart Orb are the open-worked mechanics of its movement, although the real party piece of this model appears in the form of a ring-shaped oscillating weight that is placed between the central section of the movement and the slopped internal bezel that contains the hour markers. The shape of the oscillating weight follows the same curvature established by the inner bezel, and it is adorned with a single 2mm diamond set into its upper surface. When in manual winding mode, the diamond-set rotor is locked in place; however, when the Orb is set to automatic winding, the ring-shaped oscillating weight will freely spin to create the appearance that is floating below the hands on the dial side of the watch.

The open-worked components of the Vanguart Orb’s movement are crafted from grade 5 titanium with micro-blasted surfaces, and they are hand-finished with polished bevels and satin finishing. Running at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 60 hours, the true standout feature of this caliber is its adjustable manual/automatic winding functionality, and all interactions with the movement are carried out through the crown, the case of the Vanguart Orb is free from any additional pushers that would disrupt its smooth and distinctly modern profile. Due to the open-worked nature of its design, the majority of the movement’s components sit on full display, and since automatic winding is carried out by the ring-shaped rotor that is located on the dial side of the watch, the view through the sapphire window in the caseback fully showcases the symmetrical layout of the movement’s architecture.

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Rather than featuring traditional lugs, the rounded case of the Vanguart Orb is paired with integrated two-piece straps in either leather or rubber, which are completed by chunky tang-style buckles in either rose gold or titanium to match the case of each watch. While the straps offer a highly integrated appearance, they actually include an innovative quick-release system for easy tool-free swaps between the two options, and located along the bottom edge of the case are a pair of small circular buttons, which disconnect the strap from the case when pressed. While compatible third-party straps will be virtually non-existent, traditional lugs would have significantly detracted from its signature rounded profile, and the use of integrated straps allows Vanguart to fully maintain the fluid form of the watch.

Nothing about the new Vanguart Orb would even remotely hint at a budget-friendly price point, and the model costs 180,000 CHF in titanium (or approximately $200,000 USD, at the time of writing), with prices increasing from there should you have your heart set on the rose gold version. While even the most basic self-winding movements are capable of both manual and automatic winding, only a very small number of watches allow owners to select between them, and while this is largely just a novelty, the way that Vanguart has implemented this functionality has allowed the Swiss brand to unlock new aesthetic possibilities with its latest creation. Having both the rotor and a flying tourbillon proudly displayed on the dial side of the watch creates a highly dynamic visual display, and while I have yet to experience this watch in the metal, its slim proportions and innovative design promise to offer an incredibly enjoyable presence on the wrist. For more information on the Vanguart Orb, please visit the brand’s website.

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