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Bovet Pininfarina Sergio Split-Second Chronograph

Angus Davies reviews the contemporary Bovet Pininfarina Sergio Split-Second Chronograph. This fascinating timepiece is equipped with an ingenious AMADEO® case and incorporates styling input from the famous Italian design and engineering house, Pininfarina.

This detailed review of the Bovet Pininfarina Sergio Split-Second Chronograph includes live images, specification details and price.

Bovet by Pininfarina 'Sergio' Split-Second Chronograph - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website by Angus Davies

When two people meet each other for the first time it is sometimes described as ‘love at first sight’. Unusually, that was my reaction when I saw the press images of the Bovet Pininfarina Sergio Split-Second Chronograph. I use the word ‘unusually’ as I often advise caution when selecting a timepiece based on the sight of an image alone and personally I prefer to reserve judgement until the watch has resided on my wrist for a suitable period of evaluation.

However, the styling of this timepiece draws on the expertise of Italian design and engineering house, Pininfarina, working in close collaboration with the Dimier design office, a sister company of Bovet. Pininfarina has a long history of creating felicitous forms which engender admiration and lust in equal measure. Indeed, this is a company which has a long history of seducing potential buyers with the merest sight of its creations.

The eponymously named design company was led by Sergio Pininfarina (1926 – 2012) for many years. He was instrumental in designing numerous Ferrari sports cars as well as myriad of gorgeous cars for other brands. Today, the company is not only involved in the design of cars but offers its creative talents to the world of architecture as well as interior and industrial design. Indeed, its styling prowess is regularly demonstrated with examples of furniture, sports goods, electronics and consumer goods.

In this instance, Paolo Pininfarina, the Chairman of the design company bearing his family name liaised with Pascal Raffy of Bovet, creating a timepiece which embodies the ‘style and emotion’ of a high-performance car. The ‘Sergio’ Split-Second Chronograph is the result of that collaborative effort and recently I had the opportunity to be united with its handsome form.

The dial

This is a dial which employs swooping lines and recessed elements to confer much visual interest.

Bovet by Pininfarina 'Sergio' Split-Second Chronograph - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website by Angus Davies

A 30-minute chronograph, positioned below noon, resides within an alcove, resembling an inverted dome. This immediately distinguishes the dial as significantly different from the majority of watches on the market.

Bovet by Pininfarina 'Sergio' Split-Second Chronograph - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website by Angus Davies

Spanning the central area of the dial is a bow-shaped hollowed section featuring a perforated surface. This particular texture reminds me of the air intakes gracing a performance car. Moreover, there is a partial glimpse of the movement beneath, but the scale of the holes prevents the engine components from being identified. On the left side of this central area, a power-reserve indicator occupies a smooth arcing segment, while opposite the two names of Bovet 1822 and Pininfarina sit together, reminding the wearer of the two parties responsible for this successful team effort.

Bovet by Pininfarina 'Sergio' Split-Second Chronograph - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website by Angus Davies

The small seconds display is the last recessed dial constituent and sits neatly adjacent 6 o’clock. The remaining dial surface, sitting above the aforementioned indications, features circular brush. A tachymeter scale encircles the dial area and its crisp white text proves highly legible and ideally suited for calculating the speed of passing vehicles.

The hour and minute hands are lined with white fill. Behind the silver-coloured central chronograph seconds hand, a vibrantly-hued, red split-seconds hand hides, waiting to be called upon when its services are required.

Bovet has its own in-house dial making facility which I have seen first-hand. The production of its dials, consistent with every element of a Bovet timepiece, represents the no-compromise pursuit of excellence, something I can still readily recall despite the passage of time since my factory visit. The exalted execution of this dial proves to be no exception. It masterfully fuses differing depths, texture and styles to great effect. Furthermore, despite proving eminently attractive, functionality is not compromised, with each indication proving simple to interpret.

The case

Immediately, this chronograph stands out from the crowd, owing to the unusual location of the crown and pushpieces. By deviating from the norm, the substantial 45mm stainless steel case appears smaller when worn. Nevertheless, this remains a large watch and confers notable wrist presence.

Bovet by Pininfarina 'Sergio' Split-Second Chronograph - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website by Angus Davies

This particular case is equipped with Bovet’s superb AMADEO system, allowing the wearer to readily remove the rubber strap and convert the timepiece into a miniature table clock or handheld stopwatch. Moreover, the brand offers an optional chain, allowing the watch to be worn as a pocketwatch.

Bovet by Pininfarina 'Sergio' Split-Second Chronograph - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website by Angus Davies

Unlike many split second chronographs which feature three pushpieces, the Bovet Pininfarina Sergio Split-Second Chronograph cleverly incorporates the split second pushpiece within the crown. This approach accords the case with a greater sense of balance.

Bovet by Pininfarina 'Sergio' Split-Second Chronograph - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website by Angus Davies

The pushpiece at 11 o’clock starts and stops the chronograph, whilst its counterpart at 1 o’clock resets the stopwatch function. The pushpieces are presented in DLC which delivers a comely contrast with the predominantly brushed steel of the case.

The timepiece is equipped with an exhibition caseback.

The movement

The open-worked oscillating mass is neoteric in style, permitting much of the movement beneath to be observed.

Despite the modernity of the rotor, the minimal use of bridges reminds me of chronograph movements of yesteryear with many of the wheels and levers freely disclosed. This is an aspect I like, as I always prefer to see the numerous minuscule parts actively collaborating to impart time and prefer watches with small and minimal bridges.

Bovet by Pininfarina 'Sergio' Split-Second Chronograph - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website by Angus Davies

A key feature of any chronograph is the operation of pushpieces. I am pleased to report that actuating the chronograph provides a smooth, positive action. However, this is not merely a chronograph, it is a split-second chronograph which is much more complex to produce.

A split-second chronograph, sometimes called a ‘rattrapante’ or ‘double-split’, consists of a central chronograph seconds hand, superimposed upon a split seconds hand, virtually hidden from view. Both hands will traverse the dial in union, however, by pressing the split second pushpiece, in this case located within the crown, the chronograph hand halts and the split seconds hand continues to run, recording the second elapsed interval. Pressing the split seconds pushpiece again results in both hands uniting and continuing to running in tandem. The tolerances involved with the execution of a split-second chronograph are incredibly small, hence this complication is only offered by a small number of brands armed with the necessary technical skills needed.

Closing remarks

Bovet has an illustrious history, creating timepieces suffused with artistic crafts. The company is renowned for its exquisitely engraved watches and the adroit skills of its artisans who practise miniature painting on dials. I remain a huge admirer of these watches. However, I also appreciate the contemporary aesthetics of the ‘Sergio’ Split-Second Chronograph.

I have always enjoyed the interaction with the movement that a chronograph confers. Moreover, the additional complexity of a split-second chronograph heightens this pleasure further.

The first time I saw an image of the Bovet Pininfarina Sergio Split-Second Chronograph it was love at first sight. The subsequent handling of this watch only reinforced this affection. However, it remains unusual in that I succumbed to its gorgeous form in a split-second and that love shows no signs of abating any time soon.

Technical specification

  • Model: Bovet Pininfarina Sergio Split-Second Chronograph
  • Case: Shot-blasted stainless-steel with push pieces treated with black DLC; diameter 45mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; split-second chronograph; power-reserve indicator
  • Movement: Caliber 13BA08-R; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); power reserve 42 hours
  • Strap: Black rubber strap presented with a steel pin buckle which includes AMADEO convertible system.
  • Price: CHF 30,000 (excluding taxes)

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