A big part of the annual Baselworld fair is often snowed under in the storm of entirely new, but no less exciting, collections. It is the new adaptions of existing techniques, materials or models. Christophe Claret gave us a rather cool new version of a watch that has been around for a couple of years now: The Christophe Claret X-Trem 1, with a case mixing antique Damascus steel and gold. Let’s go hands-on with one, shall we?
Just to remind you what you are looking at, and reading about, the Christophe Claret X-Trem 1 has been launched in 2012 and it included some very awesome features. A tourbillon movement, a quick-set push button, winding and setting positioned on the caseback and magnetic hour and minute indications, with steel spheres in sapphire tubes – on the edges of the case. All these technicalities are still there, in the latest versions of the X-Trem 1, but it went under a visual update.
Over the years, the Christophe Claret X-Trem 1 has seen several renditions – the original featured a case made of titanium and gold. After that we’ve also seen a Pinball-themed version (a unique piece for the Only-Watch auction in 2013) and a chocolate colored one. The rectangular case “holds” all these designs quite well if you ask me, and the same goes for the new Damascus steel and gold versions.
For the avid “Monochromist” (note: that’s the way I’ve decided to nickname you, dear readers), Damascus steel should be no stranger, as we’ve explained what it is in several articles and reviews from Swedish brand Gustaffon & Sjögren, who build all their watches with various Damascus steel parts and have been doing so for a good number of years now. Damascus steel is obtained by placing multiple types of steel in a pattern and then forging them together, heating them again, folding them over and hammering them down. If you repeat this process, you end up with a multi-layered steel ingot which contains very distinctive swirls, patterns and woodgrain-like structures. To reveal the full beauty of these graphics, the steel has to be treated by either temperature or acids – or a combination of the two. A simple way to remember what does what to Damascus steel (not exactly, but it does clarify a bit) is this: heat gives color, acid gives contrast. Each type of steel reacts differently to heat or acid and thus, it requires great skill to reveal as much details as possible.
The rectangular case of the Christophe Claret X-Trem 1 has dropped its grade 5 titanium case for a steel one, with white or red gold details. The front and back of the case are done in Damascus steel with the pusher at twelve o’clock, the mounts for the tubes, the winding “crowns” on the back and some other touches done in gold. The hours and minutes are indicated by the spheres on the straight edges of the case as with all X-Trem 1’s. Two lines of digits, on either side the central dial (which reveals the gear train), display the time – via a black ceramic or red gold inlay, depending on the edition.
The Christophe Claret X-Trem 1 is a very impressive watch, even though it has been around for 4 years now. If you look at the very first one, and consider the complexity of the watch, there is not much out there that rivals this in terms of “wow-effect”. The inclined tourbillon, perfectly visible for the wearer, the display of time, using metal spheres floating in a tube suspended and moved up and down by magnetic fields, and an overall impressive design make this timepiece one of our favorite Christophe Claret watches to date. The Damascus steel version is available in a limited number of 8 pieces and will be priced at 268,000 Swiss Francs for the white gold version and 272,000 Swiss Francs in red gold (both excluding taxes).