The Dimier Récital 15 is not a new release and made its debut in 2014 in tandem with the Dimier Récital 12. Both watches were designed to showcase Bovet’s in-house Virtuoso II manual-winding base calibre. The Récital 15 enhances the attributes of the base calibre with the incorporation of jumping hours, retrograde minutes and a curious double coaxial seconds device that allows you to consult the seconds on the dial and reverse side of the watch. With its intriguing horizontal display of the time and judicious revelation of the machinery, the scenery on the dial is animated with graceful elevations and depressions and the luxurious hand finishes we associate with Bovet. Let’s take a closer look at the Récital 15.
The first challenge when reviewing a Bovet timepiece is to digest its multiple names and surnames. The model we are reviewing is referred to as the Bovet Dimier Récital 15, the Dimer Récital 15 Virtuoso II and even just plain old Récital 15 – the appellation we will be using today. As with all Bovet’s creations, there is nothing ‘plain’ about the Récital 15, but a quick explanation about the other names attached to this watch might come in handy. Dimier is the name of the collection and also alludes to Bovet’s very own DIMIER 1738 manufacture, Récital plus a number is the name of the particular model in the Dimier family, and Virtuoso II is the name of the base movement produced in the Dimier manufacture and released in 2014.
Levels of complexity
Bovet is renowned for its highly sophisticated and artistic mechanical watches, its innovative cases (like the Amadeo convertible), original displays and sumptuous decorations and finishes. The Dimier collection is home to some extraordinary astronomical complications, including the Récital 18 Shooting Star, the Récital 20 Astérium, the enchanting women’s moon phase Récital 11 Miss Alexandra and even the Récital 22 Grand Récital astronomical watch, which took home the highest Award – the Aiguille d’Or- at the GPHG 2018. For a unique insider’s view of Bovet’s integrated manufacture with a focus on the Récital models, you can watch our video here.
But not everything ticks with such astronomical complexity at Dimier and the Récital models also feature some ‘medium complications’, like the Récital 15 with jumping hours, retrograde minutes and a 5-day power reserve. Similar to the previous Récital 12 in case size and movement, but with the addition of jumping hours and retrograde minutes, the Récital 15 comes in a 42mm diameter and has a height of 12.80mm. Incidentally, and adding to the somewhat confusing nomenclature practised at Bovet, there are no Récital 13 and 14 watches. The polished 18k red gold case of the model we had for the hands-on session featured a setting of 64 baguette-cut diamonds in the bezel and a briolette-cut diamond in the crown.
Like Arabic and some Asian languages, the Récital 15 is read from right to left. An original representation of the passing hours, minutes and seconds, time is displayed on a horizontal axis advancing from right to left from the largest measurement (hours), passing through the retrograde minutes and on to the smallest measurement (seconds). In addition to being an intriguing way to view time, the different displays on the dial progressively increase in speed, advancing from the slow turning hours to the fast moving seconds.
The jumping hour display is the first thing that peeks out from under your shirt cuff, allowing you to discreetly consult the hour without offending your dinner hosts. Positioned on a white hand-lacquered ring at 3 o’clock, the rectangular jumping hours window is rounded and elongated to follow the contours of the ring. But what will be more fun for mechanical voyeurs is the show taking place in the cut-away of the ring revealing parts of the double star mechanism that regulates the speed of the instantaneous jump and also contributes to the synchronization of the jump of the hour disc with the retrograde minute hand. It is precisely this difficulty that makes the simultaneous display of a jumping hour and a retrograde minute so rare in watchmaking.
On the other half of the ring, the black Arabic numerals of the minute display (the font was inspired by that used on pocket watches made in the 19th century by Edouard Bovet) are printed on a 180 degree arc and watching the retrograde minutes hand snap back to zero once it hits the 60-minute marker can become addictive.
Double Coaxial Seconds
Smaller in size than the hours and minutes counter, the graduated seconds are displayed in a sort of sinkhole or cavity, an open aperture that reaches all the way to the caseback allowing light to reach the wheels. Easily mistaken for a tourbillon at first glance, the seconds display is given a classic Bovet twist. These are not ‘conventional’ seconds, but ‘double seconds’ because they can be consulted on both the dial side and the reverse side of the case. The dial-side seconds hand is mounted on a gear that turns in a clockwise direction while the rear seconds hand is mounted on a gear that rotates counter-clockwise. Although being able to consult the seconds on both sides of the case might not be the most practical or utilitarian of functions, watching the gears move in opposite directions provides a fun technical twist.
Held in place at either end by blued screws, the raised, bevelled, and polished circumference of the hours and minutes platform slightly overlaps the lip of the receded small seconds counter. The use of elevations and depressions throughout the dial is masterful and creates a wonderful landscape. The closed areas of the dial are sandblasted while the two raised bridges that recreate a wave shape at the top and bottom are finished with circular Côtes de Genève.
A modified Virtuoso II
The reverse side of the Récital 15 reveals a power reserve indicator placed in a fan-shaped window at the top, and the ‘secondary’ seconds indication with its 20-seconds graduated arc read with three blued hands. The bridges are bevelled and decorated with swathes of Geneva stripes and feature cutout areas to reveal the balance wheel, parts of the gear train and ‘seconds cage’, and a glimpse of the barrel. Beating at 21,600 vph, the manual-winding movement – a modification of the Virtuoso II base movement – has a robust power reserve keeping the jumping hours, retrograde minutes and double seconds function for stretches of up to five days.
I realise this watch is catalogued as a men’s watch but the more I got to know it, the more I entertained the idea that this could also work well for women with a passion for mechanical watches. And not just because of the diamonds. I was intrigued by Bovet’s concept of reading time from right to left and delighted by the moderation of openworked areas on the dial. I am not a fan of skeletonized watches but truly enjoyed the restraint shown on the Récital 15, only revealing parts that are interesting and actually put on a performance. The dynamic scenery on the dial with its different levels and finishes, the elegant Geneva stripes, the details that speak of the brand’s illustrious past, the whimsical double seconds complication and yes, admittedly, the diamonds, have won me over.
The Récital 15 is also available in a white gold case, with or without diamonds and a menu of engraving options. The model we have reviewed is the red gold version with baguette-cut diamonds presented on a black alligator strap with a red gold ardillon buckle. A limited edition of 60 watches, this Récital 15 retails for CHF 110,000 (incl. taxes). For more details, please consult www.bovet.com.