Retrograde?

The Perrelet Regulator Retrograde would ordinarily be termed classical, but the Biel based brand, places it in its “Specialities” collection. This decision by Perrelet is justified as this particular model features a second unusual complication, a “Regulator”.


Perrelet Regulator Retrograde

Naming a product can provide a headache for marketing professionals. Throughout the history of branding, there have been numerous commercial faux pas which have rendered otherwise meritorious products to commercial failure.

To the uninformed, the word, “Retrograde” has negative connotations. It can be associated with decline and reverting to an inferior state. However, in the world of haute horology, it means a delightful complication is conferred.

There is a captivating, theatrical display with a retrograde complication. An arcing hand sweeps along a scale and after reaching the furthest integer depicted, returns to its starting point with near supersonic alacrity. It is an engaging spectacle which elicits a smile, whenever I see it.

Perrelet is a brand which takes its name from Abraham-Louis Perrelet, a renowned watchmaker of the 18th century.

Today, the company produces a blend of classical and modern timepieces. The Perrelet Regulator Retrograde would ordinarily be termed classical, but the Biel based brand, places it in its “Specialities” collection. This decision by Perrelet is justified as this particular model features a second unusual complication, a “Regulator”.

A regulator does not give precedence to hours but usually assigns greater importance to minutes. The “Fondation De La Haute Horlogerie”, defines a regulator as:

A clock with non-coaxial hour and minute hands.

The size of the hands and their position reflect their importance: the minute hand is always the larger and is positioned in the centre of the dial.

Observatories and Manufactures once referred to highly precise regulators, also known as parent clocks, to set their watches to time.

In this instance minutes are depicted on a subdial at the southerly aspect of the dial.

I have previously written about the neoteric Turbine 1047/2 on ESCAPEMENT. Its all black dial and case ensemble has a stealth-like persona which is imaginative and alluring in equal measure.

The Turbine Diver was another watch which appealed to me and compelled me to tap the keys of my computer keyboard with industrious fervour. The model is an engaging timepiece with a contemporary aesthetic. The judicious use of blue and yellow bestow a stylish watch, ideally suited for subaquatic adventure.

The Regulator Retrograde may be more classical in its presentation, but it readily piqued my interest on seeing its comely form. Perrelet have induced me to blister my two index fingers once again, as I record my thoughts to digital memory.

The dial

In the upper half of the dial is a subdial featuring the retrograde hours display. The hours are marked with Arabic numerals, ascending in value from left to right. A silver lancine-shaped hand points to the relevant hour, marked in black and framed in a matching hue.

Perrelet Regulator Retrograde

The raison d’être of a regulator is that the minutes are more prominent than the hours. However, in this instance the hours are probably the most dominant feature on the dial. Purists may criticise this aspect of the display, but I love it. It is sublimely legible and user-friendly to interpret.

At the southerly aspect of the dial, a second subdial, smaller in scale, overlaps the previously mentioned subdial. The two interfacing subdials remind me of school days, studying Venn diagrams. However, after a momentary lapse into the memories of protractors and set squares, I savour the beauty of the interlocked subdials.

The minute display features small applied silver coloured batons. They impart minutes in five-minute integers. Individual minutes are conveyed with smaller black strokes presented on an adjacent scale. A further silver lancine-shaped hand negotiates the subdial with graceful aplomb, repeating the design language of the hour hand.

A flourish of colour is provided with a blue central seconds hand. It is lithe in profile enhancing readability.

The date is depicted with a silver hand in combination with a co-axial display framing the dial. The silver hand shares the slender proportions of the central seconds hand. A crescent shaped tip on the silver hand engages the relevant date and provides excellent read-off.

The case

The case has a diameter of 42mm and is available in titanium or stainless steel. It is the latter variant which appeals to me the most. It has a cool, refined character and enjoys a delightful discourse with the wearer.

The caseband features a fantastic fluted motif. It may sound a small detail, but it affords a wonderful texture which toys with light. The interplay of the two depths, presented adjacent, creates pleasing shadows and highlights.

Wearer comfort is assured courtesy of the short lugs which are neat and taper downwards enveloping the wrist.

The crown features a fluted motif, reminiscent of the aforementioned caseband. However, it is stepped half way along its horizontal axis. The increased diameter near its leading edge, enhances tactility and ease of adjustment. The brand’s logo adorns the vertical flank.

A sapphire caseback provides an insight into the micromechanics within.

The movement

The self-winding Calibre P-221 movement has a power reserve of 42 hour, frequency of 28,800 vph and 36 rubies. However, it is the finishing of this handsome movement which attracts my attention. The movement is pleasingly executed and delivers impressive finissage bearing in mind the relatively modest price point.

At first glance the rotor appears open-worked. Yet, closer examination reveals a crystal covering the aperture. Moreover, the crystal is “sandblasted” with the Perrelet logo. The open appearance of the rotor reveals engraved bridges beneath. Blued screws join the various elements of the bi-metallic oscillating weight in union.

Perrelet have not chosen to employ Côtes de Genève motif on the bridges, typical of many high-end movements. Instead, they have engraved bridges with their logo, presented in a charming “tapestry” pattern. I must admit, I like it and applaud their decision to embrace their own approach to adorning the bridges. Furthermore, perlage can be seen on the movement and is presented in pleasing form.

The movement includes a fine adjustment regulator and Incabloc anti-shock protection completing the impressive specification.

Conclusion

Perrelet have produced an interesting timepiece with a profound appeal. Several aspects of the dial justify praise including the retrograde hour display, the separate minutes indication and the blued hands.

The movement has many attractive facets to its form and is finely finished.

Retrograde? Well, the name is accurate in terms of describing the method of displaying hours. However, it should be clarified, contrary to any potential misapprehension caused by the naming of this watch, there is no reversion to an inferior state. This timepiece enriches the joy of displaying time with its user-friendly dial.

I think there is much virtue in this graceful timepiece and it advances and accelerates the ascendancy of this brand with an attractive offer.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Perrelet Regulator Retrograde
  • Reference: A1041/4
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42.00 mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Retrograde hours; minutes; central seconds; date.
  • Movement: Calibre P-221, self-winding; frequency 28,800vph (4Hz); 36 jewels; power reserve 42 hours.
  • Strap: Black alligator leather strap presented on steel deployant.

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