Bovet has recently debuted the latest Récital model – the Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two (the Brainstorm Chapter One having debuted in 2019). The Récital 26 is similar in broad outline to the Récital 22 Grand Récital, which launched in 2018 and which would go on to win the Aiguille d’Or (grand prize) at the 2018 GPHG. There is the same basic layout, in terms of the positioning of the various complications, but where the Récital 22 concentrated on astronomical complications (the watch is a tellurium, which displays the positions of the Sun, Moon, and Earth relative to each other) the new Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two focuses on time-zone displays and a slightly more open architecture than its prize-winning relative.
The Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two carries on a long tradition at Bovet of building highly complicated watches in equally complex cases. The case, in this instance, is made of synthetic sapphire, with the exception of the lugs and caseback, which are in titanium. Bovet points out that sapphire is actually lighter than titanium, so the watch despite its considerable diameter – 47.80mm (and 15.50mm high at the thickest point of the case) – should be quite light on the wrist. The case is not only unusual in terms of materials, but also in configuration, with a distinct slope from top to bottom; according to Bovet, this slanted surface was inspired by the slanted top of a classic writing desk.
The Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two is, by the numbers, a somewhat simpler watch than the award-winning Récital 22, although it by no means gives the impression of being a simple watch. Rather than the very large rotating terrestrial hemisphere and astronomical moon of the Récital 22, there is a very eye-catching translucent blue dial at 12:00 to show the time, and directly below it, to the left and right, a rotating dome which shows the moon-phase in both the northern and southern hemispheres, and a rotating dome showing the time in a second time zone. The time zone dome rotates once every 24 hours and it functions as a true world time indicator, albeit one that is a bit of a hybrid – the time in your preferred second time zone can be selected by indexing the gold-colored forked needle that outlines your chosen city, but you can still read off the local time in any of the other 24 reference cities as well.
The moon-phase disk also rotates, once per lunar month, and a new moon is indicated when the circles showing the night sky are completely within the openings of the figure-8 aperture; the moon-phase indication is accurate to one days’ error in 127 years. These two rotating domes are held in place by three ruby rollers, visible at their peripheries; the engagement of the rollers with the edge of each disk can be controlled with micrometric adjustment screws.
Finally, at 6:00, there’s the flying tourbillon. This is a one-minute tourbillon which also functions as the seconds hand of the watch, and it has the same stylized Sun design as the tourbillon used on the Récital 22 Grand Récital. Some changes in the type of complications, and in the layout of the mechanism, give the Récital 26 a greater sense of transparency, and although I miss the really impressive glow-in-the-dark pyrotechnics of the luminous terrestrial hemisphere from the Récital 22 (which used colored Super-LumiNova on the dome, making it seem as if you had a miniature glowing Earth on your wrist at night), the general sense of transparency and translucency in the Brainstorm more than make up for it. There is still a good amount of lume on the Récital 26, though – the moon-phase display in particular has lume applied both to the stars in the new-moon circles, and to the parts of the dome that represent the lunar surface. This is, more than most, a watch that one would need to see in person to evaluate properly, I think. So much of its effect has to do with the play of light and the optical properties of the various materials and components, and still images can only convey so much.
This is a limited-edition release – a total of sixty movements will be made, but with a total of thirty with sapphire cases, in limited series of 10 each, with either a blue quartz, green quartz, or blue aventurine dial. As is generally the case with Bovet’s high complications, bespoke and custom orders will be considered as well (for which I presume the thirty movements not part of the 10-piece series production will be reserved). The price is unsurprisingly high at $ 383,000, but this is not an unusual price point for this sort of watchmaking, in which a combination of low production numbers, and expensive manufacturing and manual craft techniques, tend to dictate a relatively stratospheric price point.
This is a very particular kind of watchmaking, of course. Aside from the question of price (which is, for most of us, the least relevant point when considering such a watch from a design perspective), it will tend to appeal to a person with a certain kind of philosophical disposition towards horology. The Récital watches are timepieces in the most general sense of the word, but they are also instantiations of the classical perspective of the so-called “clockwork universe” – one in which events happen each in their due time, and the mechanical relationships between celestial bodies and terrestrial time is an expression of a deeper and profoundly rational universal order. If you like this sort of thing (and I do; there is something irresistibly Borgesian and a bit poignant about it), these are very appealing timepieces indeed.
The Bovet Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter Two: case, sapphire slanted “writing desk” case with titanium lugs and caseback; sloped upper surface 15.50mm at thickest point; diameter 47.80mm. Movement, Bovet caliber 17DM06-DT , 39mm/17 1/4 ‴, five hour power reserve. One minute tourbillon; frequency, 21,600 vph. Hours, minutes, seconds on the tourbillon, three-dimensional double-hemisphere moon-phase indicator, world time with indexable second time zone. Dial, convex in blue or green quartz, or aventurine glass. Price, $ 383,000 (bespoke configurations available upon request). For more, visit Bovet.com.