Bovet Fleurier SA is a Swiss brand of luxury watchmakers dating back to 1822, founded by Édouard Bovet. It was most famous for its pocket watches manufactured for the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century. Upholding its rich heritage and history, the company continues to pursue aesthetic finesse as well as technical virtuosity.
It is known for its high-quality artisan dials, seen in the Fleurier Miniature Painting models, engraving, and its seven-day tourbillon. Bovet watches were also the pioneers of the see-through case back and skeletonized movements. One of their most recent innovations is the Amadeo case, which allows a wrist watch to be converted to a pocket watch or table clock without the use of any tools. Once again, an innovation to uphold its heritage of pocket watches.
In this article, we review the Bovet Fleurier Tourbillon Virtuoso III Perpetual Calendar in 18k rose gold. It retails at S$300.
It is a 5-Day Tourbillon with Retrograde Perpetual Calendar and Reversed Hand-Fitting. This watch is not only aesthetically achieved, it is also technically innovative and at the same time a bastion of Bovet’s past.
The design concept was centred around allowing the tourbillon cage to remain visible at all times. The manufacture came up with a solution by cleverly tweaking the dial, to centre the hours and minutes display. This was against the convention of hour and minute markers being at the periphery of the dial. Since the human eye is accustomed to interpret this type of analogue display, reading the hours and minutes poses no problem despite of the smaller size.
As a result, abundant space was created both for the day and month indicators, as well as a large tourbillon cage. The day and month indicators were diametrically opposed and could use larger inscriptions. To further enhance legibility, the names of the days and months were printed in white on sapphire discs. This transparency allows the subtleties of the mechanism to be admired without taking up excessive space.
The design of the case also draws inspiration from its prestigious forebears. The two crystals are curved to evoke the Grand Feu enamelled case-backs of pocket watches manufactured by BOVET. This particular characteristic influenced the very architecture of the movement, since watchmakers concentrated the thickness of the movement in its centre, in order to optimise space requirements according to the theory beloved by Le Corbusier.
Because of the reversibility of the timepiece, each component is decorated by hand on both sides. As is customary, artisans at the Manufacture spared no effort in their work. Worthy to mention are the sharp edges of re-entrant angles and rounding-off of the tourbillon cage bridges. Two operations for which can only be accomplished by the dexterity of the human hand.
If you were wondering why a single watch has two faces, that is because of the reverse hand-fitting. It allows hours and minutes to be displayed on the reverse side. This original characteristic is present on all timepieces in the Grandes Complications collection and is closely linked to the convertibility concept of its Amadeo case. What’s more, the attention to detail and finishing is not left to chance. Every single spot on the bridges have been engraved by hand with the Fleurier motif beloved by collectors for 192 years.
With such a beautiful case and movement, the crown jewel, the tourbillon is set majestically in its cage at 6’o clock. The tourbillon was invented to counter the effects of gravity on the timepiece by placing its regulating organ in a vertical axis. This is significant for when the timepiece is used as a pocket watch or a table clock.
Both a technical marvel and an aesthetic masterpiece, the large tourbillon is finely finished, and made to look good on both sides. The arms that connects it to the three-quarter plate emphasise its contours and combine with the circumference of the dial to form an “8”, the symbol of good luck and prosperity. The dimensions of the tourbillon, its inertia, and the design of the balance-spring, allow the heart to beat at a frequency of 21,600 V/h on a 5 days power reserve.
Bovet’s Amadeo Fleurieur Virtuoso Tourbillon III is indeed a virtuosic masterpiece. It is as if the watch makers were inspired by Liszt. Beautifully finished and technically superior, we have almost no qualms with this piece. However, it looks too extravagant to be worn on the wrist. It may be due to its size which wears a bit large at 46mm with an onion crown at 12. The size could be due to its pocket watch schizophrenia. Otherwise, the watch could have been perfect, if only it were more subtle.