January 18, 2011
by Ariel Adams
If it is fun and you play with, then it is a toy right? call the novel spinning turbine style disc in this watch what you like – but this is a man’s toy of the highest caliber. Does being akin to a toy degrade the feeling of luxury and high-end prestige that Perrelet is going for? No. At least I don’t think so. Wealthy guys who stand around with nice watches talking about cars and boats are often looked at by their female companions who simply sigh and say “men and their toys.” Most of the high-end stuff we like are actually toys. You know that ultra fast super car you’ve been eying since before you can drive? The one that goes a lot faster than you can ever legally or practically go? Everything about that car that is above and beyond getting from point A to point B in comfort, is a toy.
The same applies to watches. Anything that exists in a timepiece on top of the time telling function is a toy. A bit of ol’ fun for the distinguished gentlemen who needs a few play things in his life. I have a feeling that is one of the reasons I love watches so much. You can put on any number of watches and feel like you magically are more like what the watch suggests. Why do you think pilot and dive watches are so successful? It has nothing to do with needs of the world’s demanding divers and pilots. These are toys. Well-made, hopefully highly functional, toys.
Perrelet created a hell of a fun toy with the original Perrelet Turbine watch, and improved on it with the Turbine XL. It is large, has a more distinctive design and a more turbine-like, turbine style dial. The spinning turbine on the dial serves no functional purpose -but doesn’t even pretend to. This is meant to be a pure item of visual entertainment. The evolution of the watch goes back to Perrelet’s double rotor concept. Where the automatic rotor on the rear of the watch was connected to another rotor on the watch dial. This signature Perrelet concept turned into this a few years ago. The Turbine XL watch -for effect purposes – no longer has a rotor on the dial that is connected to the rotor in the movement. This allows the turbine on the dial to rotate much more freely (for a cooler effect), than the one in the automatic movement. The movement is the Perrelet P-181, that is a Soprod automatic (that I believe is based on the ETA 2892A2).
Movement decoration is nice, but I miss those little signature repeating “Ps” that some other Perrelet watches have. The engraved black rotor is quite cool though. As you can see, the movement is visible through a sapphire display back. Now I get to talk about the case, which I have been waiting to do. This is a marvelously cool case, that is also very comfortable and well made. Most Perrelet Turbine XL models are in titanium, though there is also a gold version available. The titanium models have polished DLC coated steel bezels, while some of the models (such as the orange one here) are in all DLC coated metal. Perrelet uses a very good DLC application process and shape of the watch – while very angular – seems to eludes really sharp to the touch. Like the original Turbine, the crown is inset in the case with a fold out little handle. The system works rather well, but the little fold-out part can be a tiny bit easy to open on its own sometimes.
At first I was concerned about the “claws” on the bezel looking strange, but they don’t These are very welcome design features which add a more visually interesting quality to the case. The case itself is 50mm wide – the reason for the “XL” part of the name (for reference, the original Perrelet Turbine was 43-44mm wide). This number will likely scare some people, but I urge you not to worry. This watch is 50mm wide, and does not wear like one. The relatively short lugs and thick area between the outer edge of the bezel to the watch dial is thick. This watch wears smaller than 50mm. It certainly feels like a sizable timepiece, but I would never consider it too big. This is a perfect size for such a statement setting timepiece (which is also a fun toy).
Perrelet designed the case to be water resistant to 50 meters, and it has a domed, AR coated sapphire crystal over the dial. The very high-grade rubber strap is perfectly integrated into the case design, and is very comfortable. The buckle is in contrast polished titanium. Very good marks from me when it comes to comfort and construction for the Turbine XL.
The turbine part of the dial will spin a lot, and if you have one you’ll notice yourself playfully oscillating your wrist just to make it spin. If Perrelet sticks with the Turbine concept, as I think they will in the future – the dial and turbine element will improve even more.
Now for the dial – the place where the magic happens. First let me say that I love the small details. There is a lot going on here – and Perrelet (along with the watch designer) has done a fantastic job of making the dial both fun and legible. The hands are large and broad – properly sized, and with a colorful seconds hand. On the orange and green models the hands are black on black, with black colored SuperLumiNova. These are harder to see versus the white hands, but are still legible. These are best when you want to show off the dial more than the hands. You can see all of the models here.
As such, on the green and orange models, the “turbine” is a mixture of two colors. These blend together when the turbine spins with your wrist’s motion and look great. Alternatively, the two models with white hands emphasize telling the time more than showing off the turbine. On those models the turbine is black on black. This is a bit of a shame, as only the person wearing the watch really gets to enjoy the turbine effect. The orange and green watches are more “spectator magnets.”
Wonderfully there is a complex, sloped chapter ring that sits over the turbine around the dial that helps with reading the time. Not only is the watch face fantastically 3-D, but it is a highly functional watch. This is a necessary feature for men like me who need a healthy amount of justification in their toys in the form of “well it is also a useful tool.”
Toy or not toy, I love this watch. I wouldn’t wear it everyday, but I would wear it enough. The fact that it is a cool, comfortable, and high-end watch makes it an even more fun toy. There are several models in the Perrelet Turbine XL line, and most range from about $6,000 – $6,650. The Limited edition 18k rose gold version will be more at a bit over $25,000.