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The Bovet Virtuoso VIII 10-Day Flying Tourbillon Big Date features an innovative case shape, Fleurisanne engraving and a finely executed movement.
Bovet has a wonderful knack of creating watches imbued with complexity and beauty in equal measure. Its latest model, the Bovet Virtuoso VIII 10-Day Flying Tourbillon Big Date, crafted to celebrate the maison’s 195th anniversary, is a horological tour de force and yet, despite its involved mechanism, it remains highly wearable.

Last year, I reviewed the Récital 18 Shooting Star and marvelled at the unusual case which resembles a lectern with its sloping form. The case is at its thinnest at 6 o’clock and steadily increases in thickness, reaching its maximum height at noon. I am pleased to see this innovative shape return with this new watch, the Virtuoso VIII 10-Day Flying Tourbillon Big Date.

However, beyond its unusual case, this timepiece is mechanically very complex with a lengthy specification destined to impress.

The dial

The hours and minutes are proclaimed with sinuous golden hands. The upper dial area features a black backdrop resembling an inverted apostrophe-shape.
At 2:30 a large date display resides. The ‘tens’ sit closer to the sapphire crystal than the ‘units’ but the difference between the respective heights of both date discs is minimal, aiding legibility. Despite the date display being large and clear, the size of the mechanism at its heart has been kept to a minimum, bestowing a sense of neatness.

Positioned at 10 o’clock is the power-reserve indicator. Surprisingly, despite having only one spring barrel, this timepiece has a prodigious power reserve of 10 days. Winding the watch is not too labour intensive either thanks to the spherical differential employed. This mechanism features ‘tridimensional toothing with multiple gearing of one of its pinions.’ This is subject to two patents, underscoring the innovative culture of Bovet. By equipping this watch with a differential it ‘halves the number of turns of the crown’ required to energise the mainspring fully.

Both winding and adjustment of indications, including the date, are performed solely with the crown, obviating the need to ever remove the watch from the wrist. Indeed, adjusting the date is performed with a simple press of the crown.

The flying tourbillon resides at 6 o’clock. The mechanism is festooned with thermally blued screws. The balance wheel features six masselottes set in-board to mitigate disruption to the airflow. The bridge of the tourbillon is titanium in order to reduce mass, mitigate power consumption and prevent magnetism. The tourbillon is fitted with a small, golden hand which is a seconds display, making one full revolution once per minute.

The lower hemisphere of the dial is the plate, exquisitely embellished with Fleurisanne engraving. The detail accords wonderful texture to the surface and is the product of an artisans use of deftly applied tools.

The case

The 44mm, 18-carat red gold case is highly polished and features the aforementioned inclined profile. The strap, adjacent 6 o’clock, is affixed at one point, bestowing a delicacy to the aesthetic appearance. Each end of the strap bar is adorned with a blue cabochon.
The upper strap attachment envelopes the crown and, once again, is fitted with a blue cabochon. It has a delightful arcing profile, conferring a visual lightness to its appearance.

Rounded edges grace the upper surfaces of the bezel which give way to the recessed surfaces of the case-band. The union between the case-back and the case-band repeats this interaction.

The brown alligator leather strap is paired with an 18-carat red gold pin buckle.

The movement

The sole spring barrel dominates the dorsal view of the watch. The barrel cover is adorned with sunray-brushing.
18-carat white gold case

Adjacent the crown, an aperture reveals the crown wheel and the castle wheel. The latter is adorned with the company’s nomenclature.

A large bridge above the spring barrel is beautifully decorated with an elaborate, scrolled motif. This is punctuated with blued screws, jewels and small apertures which disclose the wheels below.

The movement features “trompe l’oeil” going train bridges, which at first sight appear to be four separate bridges. However, this is not the case as the bridges are actually composed of two parts. The decision to adopt this approach grants easier servicing. The bridges are exquisitely appointed.

The wheels are circular grained and the bridges are engraved with golden text. The anglage is executed to an impressive standard. The disc plates are sunk and chamfered. Both sides of the plate are chiseled with an extremely delicate pattern. The inherent danger when performing this work is that one slip of a burin renders everything to the container labelled ‘waste’. There is no margin for error, reinforcing the prowess of the artisans at Bovet.

Pascal Raffy, the owner of Bovet, said that with the Bovet Virtuoso VIII 10-Day Flying Tourbillon Big Date he wanted to ‘opt for an architecture typical of 19th-century watches, with a full plate and bridges hollowed our into a series of scrolls.’ In this regard the craftsman and craftswomen at Bovet have fulfilled his wishes. However, they have also delivered more, much more in fact. Indeed, this is a movement with sublime functional and aesthetic qualities.

Closing remarks

The Bovet Virtuoso VIII 10-Day Flying Tourbillon Big Date blends two complications, a flying tourbillon and a big date display. This in itself is incredibly impressive. However, where the Bovet shines particularly brightly is with its exquisitely executed movement.

The bridges are sumptuously appointed with an engraved scroll motif. The plate is adorned with Fleurisanne engraving and the overall architecture of the movement implores the wearer to spend a little time admiring the case-back as well as the dial.

Such an impressive specification may lead the wearer to consider this watch only for occasional use, however, it is clear that the intention of Bovet was to craft a watch which could be worn on a daily basis and in this regard they have succeeded.

The innovative case shape distinguishes this timepiece as exceptional and, in every regard, it is. Indeed, I can’t think of many other watches which match the allure of this exceptional virtuoso performance.

Technical specifications

• Model: Bovet Virtuoso VIII 10-Day Flying Tourbillon Big Date

• Case: 18-carat red gold; diameter 44mm; height 13.45mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); curved sapphire crystal to front and caseback.

• Functions: Hours; minutes; seconds on tourbillon; big date; power reserve indication

• Movement: Caliber 17BM03-GD, hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz); 45 jewels; power reserve 10 days

• Strap: Alligator strap with 18-carat red gold pin buckle