Back in the glory days of mechanical watchmaking, or should I say the golden age of horology back in the early 70s. We’ve seen brands go toe-to-toe with the very best to come up with the next best complication. We’ve seen the rise of automatic chronograph, the mesmerizing sound of a minute repeater, the micro engineering perfection of a perpetual calendar piece. Can we not say that after the quartz revolution, can we still get back to the pinnacle that watchmaking was? I would like to point out the fact that indeed we will. We’ve seen rise of heritage and iconic watch models come back to life in the first decade of the 21st century. We’ve seen complications perfected and combined with others to make one true lasting piece. But is this all there is to it from the mechanical prowess of timepieces? Can we not see something clearer to simply separate the idea that mechanical watches are forever inferior to the features a digital piece can bring? Can we not say that we can still progress with mechanical pieces without the use of digital technology? Can we not or can we? I give you the X-TREM-1 from Christophe Claret.
The name X-TREM-1 is in fact an code from Christophe Claret.
X for Experimental
T for Time
R for Research
E for Engineering
M for Mechanism
So the question remains what makes this piece so special and cutting edge and perhaps a turning point for the next generation mechanical timepiece. The piece in itself is a representation of a major technical and aesthetic achievement for horology. Not only does it has a flying tourbillon inclined at 30 degrees mounted on a three dimensional titanium main plate, equipped with a retrograde hour and minutes display that could knock you off the edge of your seat. What you see in the sides of the watch are two hollowed steel spheres isolated in sapphire tubes on the left and right side of the case. The two spheres magically moves, yes you heard me, magically floats inside the tube to display the hour and the minute of the day. All thanks to magnetic fields. Magnetic fields you say? the first thing that comes to mind is that how can this piece work? Magnetic fields had been traditionally the bane of mechanical watchmaking as it stands the possibility of disrupting the movement inside the piece. According to the School of Business and Engineering Vaud (HEIG-VD) in Yverdon-les-Bains, and a team headed by Professor Besson “The magnetic fields have been focused so that they have no effect whatsoever on the mechanisms – apart from the task assigned to them, which is to help display the time in a quite incredible and original way.” The illusion of showing two magnetic spheres floating in the tubes with almost no connection with the mechanism of the piece is simply mind blowing. To think that the makers of this piece is already crazy enough to put magnets in a mechanical watch. So how does this piece really work? How can the spheres simply float to the correct time display? The main driving force behind it is a small cable made from an extremely thin woven silk thread more commonly used on reparative surgery. The two miniature magnets are moved by this cable inside the piece. A technically inclined feat that puts the X-TREM-1 something from the future. Yet it is now here. The piece will be available for a choice between titanium, white gold, red gold or platinum and is limited to only 10 pieces for each case type. The price as expected is an astounding 260,000 CHF (approximately 285,000 USD). We are already looking at super car territory here but can we not simply say the the X-TREM-1 deservingly so, is a truly remarkable piece of engineering that could put the horological industry in a whole new perspective. Again a piece like this is only for the select few, to see one in the wild is probably a rare sight. With that in mind, I leave you with this fascinating video to see the X-TREM-1 in all its glory.
Don’t forget to check out Christophe Claret website – http://www.christopheclaret.com/