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Harmonious Recital 18: Bovet 1822 Reinvents Universal Time

2016’s homo sapiens travel, cross borders and are constantly dealing with jet-lag. To help them, Bovet 1822 took it upon itself to reinterpret universal time and the result is brilliant!

By Joel Grandjean

The exceptional reinterpretation endeavors to pay tribute to modern businessmen's hectic race against the time and the distance that separate them from today’s world, turned global village. 

Bovet Récital 18 Shooting Star The Bovet Récital 18 Shooting Star

Simplicity that oozes ultra-complexity

Can a true traveller stay connected to both arrival and departure times, including the inevitable stopovers and even the following legs of their journey, with a mechanical time-measuring instrument of noble design? As simple as the question may sound, answering it requires complete understanding of micro-mechanical complexity and is a true challenge for today’s brilliant watchmakers. The challenge has to do with the complication known as Universal Time or World Time. Around 1780, pocket watches already bore traces of this complication even if history guesstimates that the wristwatch mechanism which brought it to its current use appeared in the 1930s. Since then, collectors and watchmakers have been following its evolution.

This year, Bovet 1822 has introduced its Récital 18. This piece was developed between the Motiers castle in Val de Travers –where the most elite watchmakers have taken up residence –and the top secret research and development department of Dimier 1738, the brand’s independent Haute Horlogerie Manufacture. The brand has made an obvious effort to steer clear from the influence of modern models and has tried to remain neutral next to the resourceful legacy that comes with such models. The Fleurier-based brand has made a time-measuring instrument (part of the Dimier collection) that revisits the notion of Universal Time. 

Bovet Récital 18 Shooting Star The hemispheric world map was specially designed by an expert map-maker

Ultimate prowess of a patented multi-function winding stem

The Récital 18 exudes a peculiarity that can be spotted from quite a distance since its 18K white (or pink) gold case is asymmetrically shaped, which also affects the case’s thickness. Indeed, the case is thicker at 12 o'clock and thinner at 6 o'clock but is above all a particularly ergonomic protected design.

Disarmingly easy to set, the timepiece makes us travel to the heart of 24 hand-picked cities around the world whose names have been written on top of a dual-drum. Local time is indicated by a jumping hour hand and a retrograde minute hand, and surprise, surprise, the geographical position of the chosen city is indicated on a mini hemispheric world map. The cartography of which was specially designed by an expert map-maker. The cities displayed are deliberately standard so that the chosen time zone can be easily indexed via a double-roller. 

Another 'simplicity' that gave watchmakers a few sleepless nights was the performance of the timepiece –they wanted to make it more intuitive, more accessible, more instantaneous and extremely thorough. For example, what good is it to know the local time if the wearer does not even have a day/night indication?

Bovet Récital 18 Shooting Star The case is thicker at 12 o'clock and thinner at 6 o'clock

Even if it’s just to avoid calling your family in the middle of the night! In this regard, another function worth mentioning is the hour disc that is easily set without disturbing the other functions.

Functional and aesthetic, pure and practical

The already highly-technical equation is embellished with three dimensions as well as clarity and transparency without however hindering its simple and instant readability in any way. All in all it is an epic and magical adventure. So much so as Bovet 1822 makes us delve into the universe of astrolabes and old astronomical clocks with the unique volumetric assembly that sometimes shines with luminescent materials.

Bovet Récital 18 Shooting Star The Bovet Récital 18 Shooting Star pink gold caseback

To add proof of the brand’s superior skills, two other complications join the party –a tourbillon with a 60-second rotating carriage (inside of which is a mini seconds hand) and two retrograde mechanisms (one for the hours and one for the minutes).  It is not the first time the brand has explored the difficulty that a tourbillon represents –see the Rising Star, a triple time zone piece that was released as a grande complication on the occasion of its 190th anniversary.

Of subtle moons and gestures

To liven things up, the piece also displays an accurate position of the moon depending on where the wearer is on the planet, with hemispherical and cartographic precision, which is an unprecedented prowess. Since this indication varies according to the destination, time-setting is quite “jumping”. It is a visually striking spectacle since it simultaneously sweeps the spectrum of the two hemispheres in full moon, quarter moon and new moon modes. Its only limitation is that it has to be corrected every 122 years to stay in tune with the accuracy of lunar cycles.

Bovet Récital 18 Shooting Star The multi-function winding stem has been patented

Every available function must have presented a dilemma as well as unimaginable constraints to the watchmakers since they had to work within a limited space. Indeed, the panoply of time-related and measurement information had to be confined to the 46mm of the Récital 18 –both for the dial and its readability but also for the performance of its in-house mechanical caliber that is both complex and reliable. Its caliber beats to 21,600 vibrations per hour and even boasts an in-house balance-spring as well as a 5-day power reserve that is indicated on the dial. 

However, hand finishing–or the touches that propel such a timepiece to the fine watchmaking echelons–have not been forgotten. Visually, its components are flawless and the domed sapphire crystal allows you to study all of the subtle details. The reverse sides of the mini spheres are covered in gold and the movement is completely engraved.  The upper dial is lacquered white on one side and aventurine blue on the other and finally it is fitted with a beautiful strap fastening with a pin buckle.

Bovet Récital 18 Shooting Star The piece  displays an accurate position of the moon

The most thorough watchmaking artisans are those that can adapt to the universal and exact aesthetics filled with traditional watchmaking codes, notwithstanding the incredible complexity of functional mechanisms that are men’s life quest. As with all of Bovet's 1822 pieces, the watch has a 5-year guarantee and only 50 calibers will be encased in the different versions.

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Recital 18 Shooting Star