Text by Alex Ghotbi - Photos by Alberto Schileo
© April 2004 by the authors and ThePuristS.com
Harry Winston has become one of the brands I await most impatiently to discover the new products and not only the Opus series. In just a few years Maximilien Büsser (Managing Director of Harry Winston Timepieces) has managed to transform timepieces made by a jeweler into true horology pieces sought after by collectors and respected by the whole profession!! There is a mix of AHCI worthy mechanism, true design and savvy marketing in Harry Winston timepieces that make their pieces very exciting.
The Z1 is a new concept for a sport watch with new models which will be presented each year. A limited edition will be produced in Zallium (a novel material with a grayish tint, extremely difficult to work with and highly inflammable) then subsequently declined in gold for regular production.
The 44mm Z1 Retrograde Chronograph is AMAZING. This is not the first time a retrograde style chronograph is produced but the Z1 is done with elegance, class, refinement and a dash of macho testosterone!! Sublime!! It just shows the different talents that work inhouse for Harry Winston, BRAVO, BRAVISSIMO!! I need to hurry up though since only 100 pieces will be available.
The Opus 3 was a watch that last year took my breath away. Certainly the timepiece that during the 2003 fairs gave me the strongest feeling. I was waiting in anticipation and anxiety to discover Opus 4..
Lets say that Opus 3 was a sort of Sci-Fi watch whereas the Opus 4, created in collaboration with complications wonder boy Christophe Claret, is a more traditional piece in a water resistant platinum case (limited to 18 pieces and 2 jeweled versions) with tourbillon, cathedral gong minute repeater, date and a huge central moonphase display…on two separate dials!!
On one side there the tourbillon and the hammers for the gongs can be seen. The dial is in fact the top plate, beautifully finished with Geneva waves, blued screws, all edges are beveled and the tourbillon bridge and cage are stunning in their beauty and true works of art in their own right. The surprise comes from the rubies which are in fact white giving the “dial” a very clean look.
On the other side the lapis lazuli dial presents a huge moonphase display centrally placed (the moon is elegantly engraved by Kees Engelhard) and a date indication through a hand on the periphery of the dial..
The ingenious part in the Opus 4 is that by pulling the lugs you can in fact pivot the watch around and therefore wear the dial version you prefer!!
The Opus 4 has a very clear and crystalline chime, not very loud due to the water resistant platinum case, but it could be perfectly heard in a room full of people.
Instead of compiling complications on one another, Harry Winston has once again found novel and interesting means of presenting time. Next year Harry Winston will present the 5th and last model of the Opus series. The decision is not final and will depend on the watchmaker Harry Winston would like to work with on a common project in the future.
After all the emotions of the day we decided to head off to the AHCI booths and see some of the novelties presented there and spend some time in the booth Philippe Dufour was sharing with Vianney Halter. In fact we were so exhausted that we spent quite a few hours on the (very comfortable) couches there discussing with Vianney’s and Philippe’s customers!!
The AHCI booth is almost always the place where there is the most people and surprisingly one of the booths where it is the toughest to take pictures of the watches since the watchmakers are always with clients and enthusiasts showing them their latest creations.
Our day was to end with a diner and presentation at the Blancpain booth.
The celebrated brand was presenting quite a few new pieces this year, among them a round time-only model with big date particularly attractive in a brushed red gold case (limited to 333pieces).
The highlight of Basel 2004 for Blancpain was certainly the perpetual calendar with continuous equation of time hand (equation du temps marchante) enabling the reading of the mean time and solar time by the use of two different hands one for each indication and of an hour hand shared in common. This 50 limited edition platinum piece comes with a superbly engraved rotor.
The dinner ended early and I hit the sack immediately to wake up the next day Sunday April 18 for our last day at Basel with a presentation of Bulgari’s high horology brands: Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth.