Bovet 1822 conquered me from the very beginning with the exceptional quality of their exquisite designs. Although I am a big fan of the Grand Maisons (VC, JLC, Cartier, PP), the bond one can shape with an independent is nowhere else to be found. This comes from the intimate relationship a watch can create between its owner and the artisan(s). I chose a fantastic example of the Bovet 1822 – the Virtuoso X in an engraved gold case as an object of pure desire.
Mr. Pascal Raffy proudly presented the Virtuoso X at the end of 2019. Cumulating two centuries of arts such as engraving, miniature painting, and watchmaking technology, the Virtuoso was (and still is) an example of high-end watchmaking. But the story is not over. If one adds a personal touch to the bespoke series, the limit is just the imagination. Since Bovet 1822 not only can but also delivers excellency of the highest order.
And if someone considers my ode a vain spil on ink (even if digitally speaking), I invite that person to study this piece carefully and explain how and why I am wrong. We have a watch on which each face is a sum of skilled artisanal work and offers three ways to enjoy it. For those unfamiliar, it will be: two faces on the wrist, a two faces pocket watch and a table clock. And, I did not try it, it might be possible that the chain from the feminine Amadeo® convertible case to be compatible with this one too – resulting in another way of wearing it – as a pendant.
The patented Amadeo® convertible case system, which required seven years of study and development, is even more spectacular than my beloved Reverso – and I am not saying that easily. But I must render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s – the originality, and the exceptional built is unrivalled. And trust me, I have tested these watches on every occasion I got in the last few years. The reliability of this complication is certified by an independent laboratory for 30,000 conversion cycles without any alteration. Please see it in action in the video below:
Bovet Virtuoso X
The Bovet name was always associated with charming pieces meticulously crafted and decorated. You can read more about the Bovet 1822 history here: Evenings with Bovet: The chronology of excellence. I think with sadness that some of the skills were lost in time. Maison Bovet is proudly executing some of the most splendid timepieces of the hour. Mr Rafy’s exigence for perfection is rivalled only by his aesthetic refinement. His requests for the perfect-looking watch often challenge the team and the artisans. The results are not only admirable for the look but also the practicability.
The engraved Amadeo®case
The presented model exhibits a floral motiv that extends all over the case. The construction is similar to a pocket watch more than to a wristwatch. It offers a large rounded bezel that increases the difficulty level of the engraving. The same applies to the “case-back” that doubles as a stand in the table-clock use.
The lugs received the same attention to detail. The end cabochons only increase the charm. The top lug uses two pushers to release the strap and can accommodate the chain for pocket-style wear or, as we saw at Miss Audrey, the pendant chain. The bottom lug is completely released by the opening of the back case – with the help of the pusher -just like on traditional pocket watches. Please see the video for a demonstration.
The Fleurisanne and bris de verre styles are decorative patterns featured most often on Bovet timepieces of the 19th century. The knife cuts are surrounded by subtle hammering, both creating a magnificent three-dimensional effect. The engraver will replicate the collector’s desired pattern in the bespoke line, respecting the centuries-old techniques.
And here is where a bond is created. I was referring to the intimate link between the artisan and the collector at the start of the article. Each cut, each pattern, and each embellishment bears the unique signature of the artisan. A connoisseur can recognise his favourite artwork of his “personal” artisan. The engraver cannot escape his particular pressure, speed and approach style. You can meet and greet the artisan and bond with her/him over details. You can see the souls poured especially for you when you look at your piece. You know how each line or curve was made…
And if you are handy, you can even try the skill yourself since the artisans eagerly share their passion.
Three artistic crafts, two faces
Governed by the patented 1-minute flying, the watch faces present the time in various manners. The first dial features “guilloché laqué” in a half-moon shape. The light reveals the flinqué pattern (the art of geometric patterns etched on a dial using the guilloché technique) under the blue lack only in the right angles and adds a depth effect.
The dial is adorned with printed indexes and just a few hand-applied gold Roman numerals. The brand’s name is displayed with applied gold letters on a screwed plate. The name of the watch is printed in black. The contrast between the brushed plate and the thermally blued screws is part of the opulence of details specific to Bovet 1822.
Two additional timezones
The two secondary time zones are harmoniously displayed on a horizontal axis on the front side of the timepiece. They indicate the time of the cities chosen by the owner. The 24 cities are visible via a small rectangular aperture above the 24-hour brushed scale. The hemispherical globe is hand-painted with a process involving luminescent paint that will glow in the dark. Like the engravings, the artisan has a unique signature that can be exploited for bespoke painting.
The secondary time zones are displayed using hand-bend red hands. A clever combination of correctors allows summer and winter time to be considered for each of the 24 time zones. The correctors can be found gracefully integrated on the sides of the case.
The running seconds use a circular inclined plate under the dial, at the edge. Only twenty seconds are acted and pointed by a gold pointer fixed on the flying tourbillon cage. Curiously, only one pointer was used, although the other two arms have some superb counterweights (very pointy but with well-executed chamfer and polish).
The “back” face
While the “front” face show has as the main act the second and third time zones with the hand-printed subdials, the “back” face leaves the scene open to the skill of the engravers. The depth of the engraving is remarkable, and the motif goes through the bridges of the movement without interruption, offering a dazzling contrast to the dial for incredible readability.
The time is displayed on a full dial with a complete set of applied Roman numerals. We find the brand’s name again but printed together with the “10 Days” power reserve and the proudly mentioned “Swiss Handcrafted“. Two gold hands hoover over the fantastic blue lacquered guilloche pattern.
Since the Bovet Virtuoso X is an extreme technical piece, the watch features a power reserve indication: a semicircular plate is fixed with a blued screw and displays the remaining autonomy via a thin blue hand and printed indexes/Arabic numerals. Another plate displays on the right side the serial number using a charismatic old-fashioned font.
Some technical consideration
In case someone was lost in the beautiful details visible in the macro photos, the Virtuoso X is a masterpiece from the artisanal perspective and in the fine-watchmaking chapter. I will start with the flying tourbillon with a multi-depth construction holding the ten-day power reserve under control via the relatively slow 18,000 vph escapement. It is jovially decorated with rounded and polished surfaces, chamfering, and hammered areas. The cage is held in place with blue screws.
The rest of the movement is adorned accordingly. The front face reveals a stepped-down construction of the movement where hammering is visible – “between the lines”. Each brushing and each chamfering is cautiously executed for perfection, almost beyond handcrafting. I am fascinated by the amazing precision that the Maison’s artisans are capable of.
Fascinated and humbled
I am fascinated and humbled by the superb craftsmanship of this Virtuoso X. Since I personally know the people behind this extreme beauty, I see it with other eyes. I see each carve like it was cut in front of me. I see each brush stroke as it was still wet. I can imagine each detail of how it was made since I have seen these people doing it. And it is not only talent… hundreds and thousands of hours of hard work, discipline, agony and ecstasy. To reach the ecstasy, many hours of frustration, agony and painstaking work were involved.
Credits have to be given to the man who gathered all these artisans. Mr Raffy has unusual ideas and an exigence that I dare to think will make even the Bovet brother bow in respect. Chapeau!
Bovet Virtuoso X Technical Specifications
- Hours, minutes, seconds on the tourbillon,
- 2nd and 3rd Timezone with hemispherical earth map, 24h hand and 24 city disc.
- Reversed hand-fitting (hour and minutes),
- Power reserve indicator
- Type: Hand-wound movement
- Diameter: 16 ½ ’’’
- Frequency: 18,000V/h
- Power reserve: 10 days
- Tourbillon: 1-minute flying tourbillon
- Type Amadéo® convertible system
- Diameter: 46 mm
- Thickness: 17.20 mm
- Material: 18K red gold
- Water resistance: 30m
- Blue flinqué dials and hand engraved with fleurisanne motif on the backside.
- The Earth globes are painted by hand with luminescent material
Strap & Buckle
- Bracelet: Full-skin alligator
- Buckle: 18K red gold
- Chain: 18K red
About BOVET 1822
The House of BOVET is a Swiss manufacturer of luxury timepieces, artfully combining the most sophisticated mechanisms with the finest craftsmanship, employing artisanal techniques such as hand-finishing, hand-engraving, and miniature painting.
For more than 200 years, BOVET 1822 has handcrafted the finest timepieces, allowing collectors to experience what is the true pleasure of the luxury of time. To further ensure this excellence, owner Mr. Pascal Raffy has limited the House’s annual manufacture of handcrafted timepieces, respecting Swiss artisanal processes, exclusivity, and uniqueness.
Since Mr. Raffy became the owner of the House 22 years ago, his commitment has been to honor the watchmaking arts to continue to handcraft timepieces that fascinate and enthrall the most demanding collectors — all of this achieved combining decorative arts, innovation, and precision.
As The Guardian of Swiss Handcrafted Watchmaking, the House of BOVET insists on manufacturing nearly 100% of its components in-house, including movements, complications, hands, dials, cases, up to and including the hairspring and regulating organ, the beating heart of fine timepieces. The House of BOVET is recognized around the world as a leader in high watchmaking and is coveted by collectors everywhere.