The density of horological technicality packed into this watch is enough to take your breath away. Following in the stellar wake of Brainstorm Chapter One released in 2019, Chapter Two takes on board a host of complications: double-sided flying tourbillon; world timer indexed to a second time zone; and moon phase and power reserve indicators. Arranged on domed structures, the complications are displayed inside the sloping sapphire case that made its debut with Bovet’s astronomical pieces. Brainstorm Chapter Two is as prodigious a feat of engineering as it is of exquisite hand finishes. Just ahead of its official presentation, we were able to have some hands-on time with the watch. Here’s what we found.
A sloping sapphire case
Between 2016 and 2018, Bovet flexed its horological muscles with the launch of a trilogy of astronomical pieces. Not only were they astronomically complex masterpieces, these watches were housed inside a rather unusual case inspired by the sloping angle found on antique writing desks. In 2019, Pascal Raffy, the owner of Bovet, decided to borrow the sloping writing desk-shaped case of the astronomical timepieces and see what would happen if it was made in sapphire. Christened the Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One, the watch offered a completely transparent and more contemporary take on the tourbillon and moon phase complications. The inclination provided by the architecture of the case – thicker at one end and tapering at the other – provided a perfect habitat for the concentric rollers, rotating domes and three-dimensional indicators inside.
Earlier this year, the watch materialised in another colour scheme but with the same spectacular layout. While the sloping sapphire case of the Brainstorm Chapter Two is similar, the action on deck is even more spectacular, if possible! Admittedly, two of the complications hosted inside the sapphire case of Brainstorm Chapter Two, namely the double-sided tourbillon and the moon phases, were featured in the first Brainstorm model.
Brainstorm Chapter Two
Inside the transparent receptacle of this remarkable watch is a double-face flying tourbillon, a precision moon phase indicator, a second time zone with world time, a power reserve indicator and enough power in the one barrel tank to keep it ticking for five days at a stretch. Made from head to toe in Raffy’s extensive manufacture in Fleurier, the development of Brainstorm Chapter Two kept his technical and prototype watchmakers busy for four years.
Sapphire cases are not new in watchmaking. However, the intrinsic hardness of sapphire makes it notoriously hard to machine and polish. After all, sapphire is the second hardest material after diamond. Other properties of sapphire are its crystalline transparency and its weight that is lighter than titanium. The case, which has a formidable 47.80mm diameter and a thickness of 15.50mm at its highest point, is made from sapphire and reinforced with a grade 5 titanium ring on the caseback and titanium lugs. So yes, it is enormous, but at the same time extremely light.
Navigating the functions
Starting with the basics, you’ll find the hours and minutes relayed on the domed blue quartz disc at 12 o’clock. If you are in travel mode, this disc corresponds to local time. The seconds are indicated on the 60-second tourbillon at 6 o’clock. Below the fixed domed disc for local time are two rotating domes: the one at 3 o’clock displays a second time zone and directly opposite, at 9 o’clock, is another domed indicator for the phases of the moon.
Going deeper, you can see how the translucent domed time disc reveals the workings and decorative features below and how the golden hands are bent to follow the contours of the hemisphere. Incidentally, the local time dome can be ordered with green quartz and even blue aventurine – although the last option probably doesn’t offer such a good view.
World Timer indexed to second time zone
The rotating dome at 3 o’clock is inscribed with the names of 24 cities representing the 24 time zones. These are printed on the surface and taper in size as they reach the highest point of the dome. The cities are located on the rotating section of the dome that makes a complete revolution by scanning the 24-hour graduation of the base ring. A gold V-shaped needle frames the selected city and the time is relayed on the 24-hour fixed ring below. For example, in our photos, the city of Miami has been selected and the time is 17:00. Once the city has been selected, the world timer completes its adjustments and displays the time simultaneously in all the other 23 cities. Taking the same example of Miami, you can see that when it is 17:00 in Miami, it is 22:00 in London and 23:00 in Geneva.
Precision Moon Phase
The third dome in the trilogy corresponds to the moon phase indicator and it too rotates in sync with the lunar cycles. As a precision moon phase indicator, it will only require a one-day correction every 127 years. And it doesn’t just indicate the age of the moon in one hemisphere but in both. To consult the current phase of the moon, there is a golden structure with two circular widows engraved with the words Sud and Nord over the dome. The circular windows glide over two blue moons and highlight the portion of the moon that is visible, or not. The lunar surface is engraved by hand and then treated to luminescent material that brings a lovely glow to the moon in the dark.
Both the rotating domes of the GMT and moon phase indicator perform their revolutions thanks to a patented radial guidance system. These mini ruby rollers are seated on the circumference of each dome. Adjustable by a micrometric screw, they ensure that the globes and always centred and that the rotation ensues without friction. This, in turn, increases the accuracy of the movement and doesn’t deplete the power reserve.
Double-sided flying Tourbillon and Power Reserve Indicator
The double-sided flying tourbillon is secured by a five-armed star structure surmounted by a faceted sapphire and two blue screws. The missing sixth arm of the star is where the small blue pointer indicates the running seconds.
The power reserve indicator is not on the dial or on the caseback. It is at the thickest, top part of the case nestled between the two lugs. The linear indicator with its yellow-tipped pointer is, in fact, integrated into the cylindrical supporting structure of the main time dome. The cylindrical structure below the time disc in tiered and on the bottom features a plaque with the engraving -5 Jours +. The next tier is set aside for the linear power display aperture.
As a Bovet creation, the decoration is taken as seriously as the mechanics of the timepiece. In this model, much of the decoration relies on a hand-engraved ‘broken glass’ motif which you can appreciate on the base of the three domes. Even the pillars are polished by hand to contrast with other steel elements that feature a satin finish.
The view from the reverse is quite simply beautiful. The two golden openworked bridges in the centre seem to hover like butterfly wings above the silver structure that supports the domes. Unlike most movements, this one is fixed at the bottom rather than in the middle of the case to optimise transparency. Once again, the lovely broken glass hand-engraved pattern we found on the dial is used here to great effect. Even the double-barrel feeding the movement with its powerful 5-day power reserve is decorated with a golden propeller motif above a brushed silver base. The patented double-sided tourbillon is gracefully suspended in mid-air at 6 o’clock and held in place by two bridges fixed with turquoise coloured screws.
The manual-winding movement beats at a frequency of 21,600vph and can store enough energy to keep the hours, minutes, seconds, phases of the moon, world time with second time zone and the power reserve indicator running for five days.
Availability and price
Only 60 movements will be produced for the Brainstorm Chapter Two spread across the three dial variations in blue quartz, green quartz and blue aventurine. Collectors, as is customary at Bovet, will be able to customise their timepieces. The watch we had for our hands-on session comes with a blue alligator strap and an 18k white gold folding buckle. The price of the Bovet Brainstorm Chapter Two is CHF 355,000.
More information at bovet.com.