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Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei

Angus Davies reviews the Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei

This detailed review of the Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei includes live images, specification details and pricing.

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No self-respecting petrolhead would ever walk past an Italian supercar without taking the opportunity to admire its glorious, sculpted lines. The stereotypical styling prowess of the Italian nation is manifest in architecture, fashion and, of course, the automotive world.

However, the seductive repertoire of an Italian supercar extends beyond mere aesthetics. Starting the engine of an automotive thoroughbred causes titillating and sonorous sounds to emanate from its multiple exhausts.

For several years, car designers have appreciated that the aesthetic appeal of Italian supercars is not limited to merely the visual stimuli of its body or interior but also the engine. This has led to several high-performance cars sporting clear engine covers and, in so-doing, revealing the mechanical wonderment within the engine bay. Moreover, the sight of the strong, lightweight frame to which the engine is attached confers a technical treat few can resist.

Pininfarina, the legendary Italian design house, responsible for penning many exemplars of motoring exotica, has collaborated with Bovet to conceive a new watch, the Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei. This is not the first time Pininfarina and Bovet have collaborated, they have already produced a impressive array of co-branded watches, including the Bovet by Pininfarina ‘Sergio’ Split-Second Chronograph which I reviewed earlier this year.

The designers of both Pininfarina and Bovet have now conceived a watch that reveals many mechanical components normally hidden from view. Furthermore, the two companies have cleverly imbued the Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei with ‘lightness’. Bovet explain that this ‘lightness’ has two meanings. The timepiece exhibits both a featherlight mass and, courtesy of the greenhouse-like construction, ubiquitous illumination of each part.

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18-carat red gold case with white dial rings

With my horological tastebuds salivating at the thought of this visually striking and technically interesting timepiece, I grasped the opportunity to get ‘hands-on’ with the Bovet before all of the 86 examples were sold. The name ‘Ottanta Sei’, meaning 86 in Italian, alludes to the limited number of movements available. Bovet offers the model in three case variants: 18-carat red gold, grade 5 titanium and grade 5 titanium, with black DLC. The dial is available in white lacquered or blue circular brushed options. My hands-on experience was with the grade 5 titanium version with black DLC and white lacquered dial rings.

The dial

The open-worked dial is supremely balanced, comprising of three key elements: the hour and minute display at 2 o’clock, a 10-day power reserve indicator opposite at 10 o’clock and the flying tourbillon positioned at 6 o’clock. This harmonious arrangement reminds me of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man with optimal proportions manifest.

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The time display, a white lacquered circlet marked with blue Arabic numerals, proves eminently legible. The white, contemporary hour and minute hands evince an abundance of style, pointing to the prevailing time with clear, pointed tips. Located opposite, the power-reserve indicator repeats the design language of the aforementioned time display, employing a combination of red and blue Arabic numerals on a white enamel ring.

By imparting information on the white lacquered rings rather than full subdials, the mass of the Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei is reduced. Moreover, the open-worked aspects of both subdials allows sight of the components beneath, reinforcing the visual lightness of the display architecture.

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While there is an obvious balance to the two white lacquered displays, there are also some subtle idiosyncrasies. For example, in the lower portion of the hour and minute display, there is a white-lacquered bridge-like section which spans the otherwise skeletonised movement. However, the power-reserve indicator is free of such detail. Moreover, the hand on the power-reserve indicator and the minute hand opposite are identical, featuring sharp pointed tips, whilst the hour hand of the time display has a rounded tip. Bovet has not expediently copied and pasted detail, but has suffused the dial with lovely nuances that enhance the whole composition.

The case

The case has a diameter of 44mm and a thickness, sans glass, of 8.85mm, proving comparatively slender for a hand-wound flying tourbillon with a 10-day power reserve. This thickness grows to 12mm once the depth of each sapphire crystal is factored in, however, the abundance of glass confers a brightness to each internal surface. Ultimately, whilst this watch could not be described as ‘ultra-thin’, one is left with an overall impression of lightness.

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The crown, branded with the Pininfarina logo, sits at noon and features an eye-catching diagonal grip. The upper strap attachment is an unusual design, incorporating two arms which sidestep the crown. Conversely, the strap positioned adjacent 6 o’clock is affixed to the case with one, sole lug. The black rubber strap feels steadfastly attached to the case yet the articulation accords superb flexibility, resulting in a fantastic wrist-feel. The rubber strap is lined with blue alcantara, rewarding a curious, extended index finger with smile-inducing tactility.

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Indeed, the Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei repeatedly induces smiles with a plethora of delightful details. Above the dial are the nomenclatures of the two companies, presented in white text on the underside of the sapphire crystal.

The case band is, once again, unusually sapphire crystal. On the left hand side of the case, ‘Pininfarina’ is proclaimed in white text, whilst opposite, adjacent the time display, the words ‘Limited Edition’ feature. In both instances, the stylised text is presented in Pininfarina’s house font.

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The Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei features an exhibition case back, allowing sight of the in-house movement. Furthermore, with its multiple windows, the watch allows sight of numerous internal components, all collaborating together to provide the fortunate owner with loyal service and accurate timekeeping for many years to come.

The movement

Bovet 1822 and its sister company, Dimier 1738, have incredible production facilities, capable of crafting numerous components in-house. I remember visiting the various factories a few years ago and being amazed at the high quotient of hand craftsmanship employed. The maison is able to make dials, bridges and a myriad of other parts which most companies choose to procure externally. For example, the balance spring within the Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei is made at the Dimier 1738 workshops in Tramelan, Switzerland.

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The hand-wound Caliber 17BM03 has one sole spring barrel, delivering a prodigious power reserve of 240 hours. This is remarkable given most watch companies normally incorporate two or more barrels to achieve this quantity of stored energy. However, the benefit of this approach is that it eschews unnecessary weight, reinforcing the lithe nature of the watch. The sight of the open-worked spring barrel, visible via the exhibition caseback, provides views of the mainspring in various states of tension. In addition, to prevent the wearer’s fingers become tired when winding the long mainspring, a patented spherical winding system is included, reducing the necessary turns of the crown by 50%.

The wheels of the gear train are circular grained, angled and chamfered by hand. The main plate is adorned with Côtes de Genève motif, subscribing to a traditional appearance, whilst the barrel bridge brims with modernity courtesy of Clous de Paris decoration.

Very little is hidden from view, making this a delightful movement to observe through a loupe. Many of the wheels feature five slender spokes, reinforcing the airy character of the movement and exposing more of the components underneath. The sheer abundance of fine details and notable finishing proves almost impossible to fully note to paper.

The flying tourbillon carriage makes one revolution per minute and consists of 104 components. The ‘patented double-sided tourbillon, which features the escapement and balance spring positioned on either side of the central fixation point..’, enhances the precision of the watch. Furthermore, this ingenious approach reveals the escapement and balance spring, both via the front and rear of the watch and, by default, disclosing more detail for the delectation of purists.

Closing remarks

Pininfarina need no words of introduction, they are masterful at crafting objects of beauty which deliver peerless levels of functionality. The Italian design house has an extensive portfolio of work from industrial design, architecture and, most notably, automotive masterpieces. At the heart of this company’s paradigm is a desire to deliver ‘innovation’, ‘elegance’ and ‘purity’. It is therefore understandable that Pininfarina has worked so effectively with Bovet who, based on its collection of watches, demonstrate the same values.

The Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei has three patents, including: spherical winding, double-sided tourbillon and ‘tridimensional toothing with multiple gearing’, illustrating its immense capability to innovate.

The elegance of this timepiece needs little additional explanation, its graceful lines are obvious. Similar to one of Pininfarina’s car designs, each contour and sinuous line of the Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei commands attention and elicits complimentary words to leave the lips. It is tasteful, refined and destined to become a classic in the future.

However, perhaps the most notable aspect of the Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei is the purity of its aesthetics and the ‘clear engine cover’ design philosophy which stand out the most. Each detail of this watch has been distilled to the nth degree with every part presented to a matchless standard. Moreover, Bovet and Pininfarina have recognised that mechanically-minded clients enjoy seeing the various internal watch components in the same way owners of supercars enjoy seeing the engine in all its glory.

Some supercars for use on the racetrack are stripped of creature comforts, such as a radio or electric windows, in order to achieve a lower kerb weight. The Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei delivers a low mass and a visual lightness but, based on my experience no aspects of the specification have been compromised.

The Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei is a timepiece that masterfully blends accomplished design, mechanical virtuosity and exalted craftsmanship. These agreeable virtues are presented beneath a clear engine cover, indulging connoisseurs with a sublime view.

Technical specification

  • Model: Bovet Flying Tourbillon Ottanta Sei
  • Case: Grade 5 titanium with black DLC; diameter 44mm; height 12mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; power-reserve indication; one-minute flying tourbillon.
  • Movement: Caliber 17BM03; hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz); 33 jewels; power reserve 10 days
  • Strap: Black rubber strap with blue alcantara lining presented on a titanium pin buckle
  • Price: CHF 165,000 excluding taxes (RRP as at 12.6.2016)

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