Carl F. Bucherer Manero Tourbillon Reference 00.10918.03.33.01
Defying The Laws Of Gravity
The Carl F. Bucherer Manero Tourbillon features a hand-wound movement and an exquisite dial adorned with a sunray motif. Angus Davies enjoys a week of ‘hands-on’ association with this timepiece equipped with the whirlwind complication invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in the latter part of the 18th century.
I still recall studying A-level mathematics with my lecturer reciting various formulae. I spent an inordinate amount of time, calculating the force of objects falling to earth and I would hone my skill at answering past examination questions. The magnitude of gravity experienced on earth is -9.81m/s² and despite the passage it still remains indelibly etched in my memory.
Another gentleman who was fully aware of the accelerative attraction of a body towards the centre of the earth was Abraham-Louis Breguet. The Parisian-based, Swiss-born watchmaking genius realised that gravity had an adverse effect on the precision of a pocket watch movement. To counter this, his inspired solution was to house the whole escapement (the balance wheel, hairspring, pallet lever and escape wheel) within a rotating cage. As the cage rotated through 360°, the various gravitational errors were negated.
A pocket watch is held in a vertical position within a waistcoat pocket. However, it is often said that the benefits of a tourbillon within a wristwatch are mitigated by the numerous positions the timepiece would typically experience with normal wear. Nevertheless, the appeal of wristwatches equipped with tourbillons is immense and shows no signs of abating. This may lead some readers to contemplate why tourbillons elicit such avaricious thoughts in many horological obsessives.
While the improved precision conferred with a wristwatch equipped with a tourbillon remains a moot point, there can be no question about the immense skills necessary to bring such a complicated timepiece to fruition. Within the hierarchy of any watchmaking maison, only the most competent, proficient master watchmakers have the necessary expertise and skills to work on timepieces of such complexity. A tourbillon is one of the most challenging undertakings for any watchmaker and the time required to bring such a watch into the world is colossal. It is for this reason that wristwatches equipped with a tourbillon escapement are often very expensive.
Another aspect of tourbillon ownership relates to the high quotient of hand craftsmanship employed. Both the exalted finishing of components and the involved movement assembly necessitate deft use of hand and tools with little room for automated expedience. The fact is, creating a tourbillon is challenging, even for the most adept time-served artisan. Indeed, a fine tourbillon is the exquisite outcome of protracted endeavour and is therefore deserving of a purist’s respect.
Lastly, many tourbillons are chosen because of their aesthetic appearance. The sight of the escapement sat beneath a gloriously polished tourbillon bridge, enchantingly turning and completing one revolution every minute, proves spellbinding. Indeed, I never tire of admiring a beautifully presented tourbillon.
Recently, Carl F. Bucherer invited me to experience the pleasure of wearing one of its complicated models equipped with a whirlwind complication, the Manero Tourbillon, and I eagerly seized the opportunity with both hands and one wrist.
The dial of my press loan was delivered in a shade of brooding black with a sunray motif, spreading from the centre of the dial. Golden Dauphine hour and minute hands proclaim the prevailing time with an enchanting dose of opulence. The facets of each hand ensure that at least one angled plane is bathed in ambient light, except when viewed in absolute darkness.
Below noon, a recessed, snailed subdial plays host to a 24-hour indication. The sunken profile of the subdial delivers much eye-appeal and reinforces the sense of luxury conferred with this model.
At 3 o’clock, the brand’s nomenclature and logo are delivered in white text and red ink, respectively. Located opposite, at 9 o’clock, an arc-shaped hollow with snailed detail accommodates the power reserve indicator. Again, Carl F. Bucherer expertly plays with dial depths, delivering a fascinating and highly attractive horological vista.
The pièce de résistance has to be the tourbillon cage positioned in the southern hemisphere of the dial. Beyond the mirror-polished tourbillon bridge, a bewitching front to back view of the watch vies with the captivating spectacle of the escapement rotating 360° every minute. Indeed, seeing the screwed balance wheel oscillate to and fro and watching the pallet lever and escape wheel momentarily kiss, warms my heart.
Encircling the dial is a circular date display, nestling adjacent the dial flange. A slender hand with a crescent shaped tip corresponds with the prevailing date to accord a very user-friendly indication.
Completing the dial’s specification are applied hour markers, presented in circular and triangular form. The raised profile of each hour marker aids legibility as well as adding to the masterful manipulation of dial depths.
The problem with some watches equipped with a tourbillon escapement is that they can sometimes prove too big and too obvious. Thankfully, no such allegations could be directed towards the Manero Tourbillon. Its 18-carat rose gold case measures a restrained 41.8mm in diameter and its modest height of 12.58mm ensures the watch does not protrude far beyond the wrist. This is a neat, tidy, inconspicuous timepiece. Unlike some expensive, grandiose examples of horology, the Manero Tourbillon is not gauche or showy. Indeed, those potential purchasers seeking to flaunt their wealth with overt demonstrations of affluence should probably look elsewhere.
The bezel is concave in profile and features mainly satin-brush, save for the vertical flank adjacent the caseband which is highly polished. The caseband itself, sides of the lugs and the caseback are highly polished. On some watches, highly polished treatment can result in an almost flamboyant appearance but, in this instance, decorum is assured and seemly conduct is maintained.
A push corrector discreetly resides within the caseband, adjacent 10 o’clock, allowing the wearer to adjust the date display. Viewing the watch from the side, the bezel appears relatively high, augmenting the sense of dial depth.
My press loan watch was supplied on a becoming black, hand-stitched Louisiana alligator leather strap, paired with a solid gold pin lock folding clasp. I found the watch, strap and clasp ensemble granted a fantastic degree of wearer comfort.
The sapphire caseback of the Manero Tourbillon accords an alluring spectacle few horophiles would be able to resist. Four bridges dominate the caudal view of the hand-wound CFB T1001 caliber. Inquisitive eyes are met with Côtes de Genève motif, delivered with precise, sharply defined stripes running from North to South.
The edge of each bridge is bevelled but, rather than featuring the customary 45° angle, the chamfered edge seems to be virtually vertical. The resultant anglage accords gorgeously gleaming bridge bevels, albeit they appear as slender slithers of brilliance rather than broad angled planes. Some purists may not like this aspect but, in reality, I found the neat conclusion of this approach very appealing.
Engraved golden text graces the movement and the jewel sinks are polished, delivering an eye-popping intensity which I personally found most becoming. The ratchet wheel features a Carl F. Bucherer logo at its centre and the remaining surfaces are adorned with a sunray motif. The visible gear train wheels are circular grained and the screws gracing the movement shine sublimely, sporting wonderfully defined slots. Adjacent the click, I did note the perlage was a little inconsistent, however, this would not dissuade me from selecting this timepiece.
My favourite specification detail of the CFB T1001 caliber relates to the dorsal tourbillon bridge. It resembles an inverted-V in profile and is delivered in sumptuous, mirror-polished splendour. Furthermore, if one tourbillon bridge is not enough, do not despair, a facsimile is presented, dial side.
The CFB T1001 caliber has an impressive power reserve of 70 hours and the movement features 35 jewels.
My temporary stewardship of the Carl F. Bucherer Manero Tourbillon lasted a week and proved most enjoyable. This is a beautiful watch which communicates its assembled indications with consummate ease. Despite an array of functions being shown on the dial, nothing appears confusing or cluttered, sublime readability is the order of the day.
Some tourbillons can be outré and, in some extreme cases, ostentatious and vulgar. However, the Manero Tourbillon is wonderfully elegant and is best described as a ‘tasteful timepiece’ that quietly reflects the cultured judgement of its wearer.
A further success of the dial is the masterful use of differing depths. The sunken subdials, snailed detail, applied hour markers and the significant space between the sapphire crystal and the dial surface bestow an abundance of interest to the display.
The understated dimensions of the case, together with the cosseting embrace of the high-quality alligator leather strap, deliver peerless levels of comfort.
Ultimately, it is the mesmerising motion of the tourbillon cage which grants the most wearer enjoyment. I could never tire of watching the escapement rotate 360° every minute or staring at the beautifully presented CFB T1001 caliber. Quite simply, while I wore the Manero Tourbillon I experienced a fantastic sense of elation and defied gravity by walking on air.
- Model: Carl F. Bucherer Manero Tourbillon Limited Edition
- Case: 18-carat rose gold; diameter 41.8mm; height 12.58mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; date; 24-hours indication; power-reserve; tourbillon
- Movement: Caliber CFB T1001, hand-wound movement; frequency (not specified); 35 jewels; power reserve 70 hours.
- Strap: Black Louisiana alligator leather strap presented with a 18-carat rose gold pin lock folding clasp
- Price: CHF 99,800 (RRP as at 3.11.2016)
- Limited Edition: 188 pieces