Functional elegance – The perpetual calendar holds a special place in the heart of watch aficionados. Its mechanical memory and ability to display the date for decades into the future, even for leap years, is a feat of horological engineering. But most of all, the perpetual calendar is a thing of beauty. And when you combine it with a brand named Bovet, you can expect the result to be pretty spectacular. Meet the Bovet Récital 21 Retrograde Perpetual Calendar, an elegant, original and superbly executed watch presented at SIHH 2019.
For watch enthusiasts, there are not many experiences as rewarding as admiring a fine perpetual calendar. Many such wristwatches conform to the canons of classical beauty, in particular, those set by the Patek Philippe. Still, it is always a great pleasure to discover a beautiful perpetual calendar that stands out from the crowd, specifically as so many examples of this complication display the ubiquitous Dubois-Depraz module layout. In this respect, discovering the Bovet Récital 21 retrograde perpetual calendar was a great surprise.
The Récital 21 is a perpetual calendar like no other. As always with Bovet and Pascal Raffy (the owner of the brand), this timepiece is infused with a unique, personal perspective where craftsmanship, integrity and patience are carefully preserved. The first thing to catch your eye is the unusual dial layout.
A small centre dial displays the hours and minutes, freeing space at the periphery for the perpetual calendar indication. The retrograde date is shown by a small index rotating around the centre dial. The day of the week is displayed vertically at 12 o’clock and the month at 6 o’clock. A small circular aperture at 3 o’clock indicates the leap year cycle. Last, the small seconds at 3 o’clock creates a great counterpoint to balance the whole design.
The centre dial is circular brushed and lacquered eight times in succession to create eye-catching lustre and depth. It is framed by a circular Geneva stripe decoration (a fleurisanne floral pattern decoration is also available) and a caption, a maxim written in old French: “Faictes de mains de maistres – pour servir ponctuels gentilshommes – ce par quoy attestons longue valeur” (Masterfully handcrafted – to serve punctual gentlemen – whereby we certify lasting value).
From a technical perspective, the calibre incorporates interesting features. For improved reliability and longevity, Bovet developed a mechanism that slows down the indicator during its retrograde jump. There are dedicated correctors for the days, date, and month functions. But the day corrector also simultaneously drives the date (and de facto all perpetual calendar indications). So if the perpetual calendar has stopped for a few days, one just needs to press this corrector until the correct date is shown.
Turning the watch over, the exhibition caseback is secured by six screws. It offers a superb view on the movement framed by an asymmetric sloping flange at its periphery (in relation with the writing-slope shaped case). This side of the watch displays the coaxial seconds and the power reserve indication over five days. The symmetrical design with the coaxial seconds in the centre and two arched bridges on either side brings balance. And as you have come to expect with Bovet, it is superbly hand-finished with bridges decorated with circular Geneva stripes.
The Bovet Récital 21 Retrograde Perpetual Calendar is presented in a 44.4mm titanium or red gold case. Its distinctive architecture and profile are inspired by a writing slope to offer a striking perspective on the movement and displays. An alligator leather strap on a pin buckle sets the final touch. Bovet offers a 5-year warranty. Prices start at CHF 72,000. For more information, please visit www.bovet.com.