Each year, Harry Winston collaborates with an independent watchmaker to create a new watch from the Opus line – a series that offers timekeepers of immense complexity and unrivaled traits. At the Baselworl 2013 fair, the Genevan company has once again blown away the watch aficionados by presenting the thirteenth watch in the Opus series. New Harry Winston Opus XIII timekeeper made together with Ludovic Ballouard breaks the norms of the conventional watchmaking. Featuring a new amazing time display that involves no less than 70 hands and a secret chamber, the new Opus watch sets the record by incorporating 242 functional jewels in the construction of its 364-part manually wound HW4101 movement. It is undoubtedly a marvel of micro-mechanics and an excellent representation of the values that signify the Opus collection.
The 13th watch in the Opus lineage (with the reference number OPUMHM44WW001) uses the concept that has been displayed in its predecessor (Harry Winston Opus XII) that had an enlarged number of hands which are used to tell the time. However, the new timepiece designed by Ballouard takes this concept and pushes it forward to the extreme. Unlike the previous Opus watch that had 27 hands, the new timekeeper features no less than mind-boggling 70 hands! Out of this number, Opus XIII watch has 59 pivoting hands used to indicate minutes, eleven rotating triangle-shaped pointers which come out of their hiding place in an appropriate moment to tell the hours and, as if all of this was not enough, a secret trapdoor. Working in accordance, each of these components is used to show the current time.
A Head-Scratching Complexity
Minute hands are placed around the edge (every fifth one is in red color) of the dial and they move and withdraw as they indicate the current time. The movement of the minute hands kind of resembles a Mexican wave (the phenomenon practiced at various sports events where the members of the crowd stand up and sit down in turn, which creates the illusion of a wave). Furthermore, silver triangle-shaped pointers spring from the hiding place to indicate hours. Since the watch has only 11 of them, it needs yet another indication. Therefore, every twelve hours, the faceted dome in the center of the dial opens up to reveal the brand’s logo. Naturally, 60 minutes later, the logo vanishes, while the first one of the triangular hands springs out and indicates the appropriate hour.
242 Functional Rubies to Set the New Record
Since each of the minutes hands moves on a ring with the matching number of steel shafts which are held between two ruby bearings, the total number of jewels featured in the timepiece is staggering 242. So far, no other timepiece is close to this number of functional jewels. Because of such complexity, each bearing needs to be placed with an extreme precision.As it has been mentioned, the man behind the amazing piece is Ludovic Ballouard. Prior to opening his own brand, Ballouard used to work for Franck Muller (for three years) and Francois-Paul Journe (for seven years) where he was involved in the creation of Sonnerie Souveraine piece. Upon opening his own firm, Ballouard received praise for his Upside Down model which earned him several accolades.
A Watch like No Other
In order to present a watch such as Opus XIII, Ballouard was faced with a massive task, since this piece is so different from a conventional timekeeper and the watch has very little in common with a usual run-of-the-mill product. Apart from the balance and escapement, all other components are specially designed and constructed for the piece! For the display, Ballouard envisioned two independent power sources which function in unison. While the first barrel drives the watch’s escapement through the going train and is responsible for keeping the steady pace of 21.600 vph, the second mainspring barrel powers the minute indication and gets activated at the turn of a minute via the center wheel of the movement’s going train. The complex tale of the minute display is far from over in this point. The second mainspring barrel likewise drives an outer minutes ring. As the time passes, the intricate mechanism of the watch turns the appropriate minute hand. Once the circle is completed and each of 59 hands is rotated upside-down, the second outer ring gets activated and all of the hands turn back to the starting position.
Moreover, Opus XIII has a mechanism for hours which is as inventive and as complicated as the one used for the minutes. Once again, an outer ring is of great importance and it leaps forward at the end of an hour. As the result of the process, the triangular pointer turns and hides behind the faceted dome in the center of the watch’s face. The most important component of the hour mechanism is a snail cam which rotates once every 60 minutes. Consequently, when it turns, a lever drops of the edge of the snail cam and thus pulls a rack which further rotates a pinion that advances the hour ring. The procedure is a lot different every 12 hours, since at these times, the hour ring turns a wheel joined with a connection rod and opens a shutter which reveals the brand’s logo, hidden underneath the faceted dome up until that moment.
Both mainsprings of the watch’s hand-wound caliber HW4101 are wound by turning of the crown in both directions. It is fairly important to note that the supported power reserve lasts for 35 hours. The crowns bi-directionality is likewise visible when adjusting the time, since the turning in one side sets the hours, while its moving in the other direction adjusts the minutes. Besides, the revolutionary caliber has an annular balance and a flat balance spring. When speaking about the finishing, the movement sports a circular-grained mainplate and circular-brushed bridges.
A Mid-Sized Case despite the Unrivaled Intricacy
Despite the head-scratching complexity, the dimensions of the watch’s HW4101 manually-wound caliber are pretty modest: it has the diameter of 37.8 mm and the thickness of 4.95 mm. This is naturally the main reason why Harry Winston was able to make the watch’s 18K white gold case with the mid-sized width of 44.25 mm and the height of 13.6 mm. The housing boasts polished lugs and bezel, as well as satin-brushed case band, while the bezel features engravings on the top and the bottom, as well as the brand’s recognizable triple arches. Both front and back of the timekeeper are guarded with sapphire crystals, while the supported water resistance measures to 30 meters below the surface. The mentioned bidirectional crown is placed at the two o’clock position and made with the embossed brand’s logo.
In the center of the face of Harry Winston Opus XIII timepiece is a faceted dome made from sapphire. Its minute hands are polished and rhodium plated just like the hour hands. Still, there is a difference, since there is a smoked sapphire crystal which sits over the minute hands. Finally, the amazing new timekeeper by Harry Winston and Ludovic Bullouard is coupled with a black hand-sewn alligator leather strap which fastens with a folding buckle made from 18K white gold. Harry Winston Opus XIII is naturally launched in a limited edition which consists of 130 copies. There are still no indications regarding the price of the watch.