Interview with Ita McCobb of Patrizzi & Co Auctioneers
They see Monaco as full of contrasts – visually and culturally. It is this dualism they look to capture in the design of their watches. “A lot of what is magic about our Only Watch 09,” says van Pappelendam, “goes back to the passion, craftsmanship and precision of our tourbillion. This tourbillion is one of the most precise in the world – the movement has a maximum deviation of between zero and two seconds in 24 hours. It is a hybrid between modern technology and traditional craftsmanship.” “The reason we are able to achieve such accuracy with this watch is the use of the most modern materials and technology,” says Pim Koeslag, Master Watchmaker and co-founder of the brand. “The silicium escapement and anchor are developed in-house with the help of external specialists, in fact, when we finally finished it we could hardly believe its extreme accuracy.”They patented their system to balance the tourbillon cage and ensure the gravity point is in the centre of the cage. “This allows us to have a flat line of rate difference and amplitude even at vertical positions,” says Koeslag. “I personally have never seen such precision before in a tourbillon. ”Their Xtreme Precision (XP) technology allows the 28800 beats an hour to be translated into ultimate accuracy, regulated to a tolerance between 0-2 seconds/24H. This precision is enabled by three innovations:
• Perfect Balance Cage – Their technology allows the watchmaker to balance the weight of the tourbillon cage by manually adding or removing small metal weights at the opposite sides of the escapement. This is to bring the gravity point of all 80 components to the center of the cage to achieve perfect balance.
• Silicium escapement and lever – This is a material normally used in the aerospace, micro processor and semi-conductor industry for its unique properties: low weight, extreme hardness and high corrosive resistance. The combination of making both escapement wheel and lever from silicium results in significantly improved energy efficiency. The extreme hardness (almost twice as hard as steel) results in low friction so no need for lubrication. And as the material is not magnetic, there is no interference that could cause irregularities in the precision.
• Deep Reactive Ion Etching and LIGA – This precision manufacturing method creates individual components. In comparison, traditional methods require continuous fine-tuning of the machines due to wear and tear. As a consequence, the DRIE and LIGA process has significantly improved manufacturing accuracy: up to 10 times more accurate than conventional machining methods. There is a lot of innovation in this watch – some of it based on technology, some, such as the sapphire bridge on which the tourbillion is built, are more aesthetic innovations. One of the ideas they had in their initial designs was the vision of Monaco seemingly floating above the Mediterranean – but how do you recreate it? Finally, Koeslag said, “We just need to make it float.”
“It is quite difficult to make a sapphire bridge,” laughs Koeslag. “Only one supplier was able to cut it successfully – and then there was the problem of fitting the ruby that sits on the sapphire bridge…” There are two bridges holding the tourbillion cage – the sapphire bridge on the front, and a hand mirror-polished steel bridge on the reverse – it takes an entire day to finish just one. The case is built up of 33 individual components that are assembled by hand. This and the convex curves they have used in the watch, was the only way they could achieve the contrasting finishes they wanted for each surface in order to replicate the special light effects you get in Monaco. intricate hand engraving of the 18k rotor has been done by industry-recognized Mr. Benzinger, who has also decorated the front and back of the Ateliers deMonaco shield that can be seen through the sapphire crystal back. The hand-finishing of just one handcut and handmade watch takes 120 hours. All the edges of the movement are curved and hand-finished. The sapphire is double anti-reflection treated on both sides. The inside case is of titanium grade 5 with fishscale finishing. “The chamfering of the bridges is done so as to create extra light reflection,” says van Pappelendam. The idea was that everywhere it goes this watch reflects – as in Monaco, where everywhere you go something is shining. ”Ateliers deMonaco’s Only Watch comes in aspecial presentation case with an engraved Only Watch plaque. The multi-faceted watchcase is in 18k pink gold, the dial in onyx with black mother-of-pearl. On the reverse there is a huge sapphire crystal displaying the completely hand-engraved manufactory movement and which is engraved Only Watch Pièce Unique. The watch, with matching cufflinks, comes in a presentation case and with a state-of-the-art travel case.