Bordering on the obscure line between science and occult, alchemy has at least sparked imagination throughout centuries. While sometimes disregarded as folklore, medieval magic or deceptive in nature, its intent is to always do better, strive for perfection. In a sense, the same thing can be said about watchmaking, haute-horlogerie in particular. Manufactures try to (re)invent and develop new techniques and adaptations of materials in order to create a better, more perfect watch. In essence, that is what Alchemists Watches aims to do while embracing alchemy as a philosophy. This is the Alchemists Cu29 Creative Act II.
The documented history of alchemy can be traced back to Chinese and Greco-Roman times, about 2,000 years ago. Most people might think of alchemy as medieval wizardry trying to make gold out of common metals or find a way to extend life into immortality. While it is much more than that, we’re somewhat sceptical when a watch manufacture embraces this as a concept for their watchmaking prowess and additionally claims their selected material for the case is beneficial for your health.
Well, Alchemists Watches does exactly that, and more to be honest. We’re not here to discuss the viability of the claims made that the special gold and copper alloy used by Alchemists Watches benefits your (spiritual) health. No, we’d rather focus on the watch, which just looks incredible.
The Alchemists Cu29 Creative Act II
From the outside in, right out the gate, there is no getting around that bulbous, super-domed sapphire crystal. It literally allows for an almost unobscured view of the in-house, inverted mechanical marvel underneath. All the intricate mechanical bits are put on display and covered by the sapphire dome as if it was a glass bell jar.
What stands out next is the complexity of the movement, constructed in-house by Alchemist Watches. A domed dial on the top, embraced by two barrels and a semi-spherical open-worked seconds indication. The “hand” for the small seconds actually has three arms, with each sliding along a 20-second scale and passing the indication on to the next as it turns. On either side of the largest dial are subsidiary indications for the power reserve and the positioning of the crown. The power reserve indication is uniquely constructed of a pointer, in blue, that floats over a 0 to 72-hour scale in a slightly curved, almost linear motion.
Viewed from the top, it is already a visually impactful piece. Lay it flat and look at it from the side and the striking architecture becomes visible. The elevated balance wheel, suspended with a single strongly curved bridge has a cylindrical balance spring, something rare within the industry. There are only a few manufacturers that use the cylindrical hairspring, of which probably Jaeger-LeCoultre is the most familiar one.
The case and most of the movement parts are constructed of Alchemists Watches’ special Cuprum 479 alloy, an alloy comprising mostly copper and some gold. With all the movement’s components on full display, the Cuprum 479 alloy acts as a warm, enticing background, with a frosted finishing on the main plate. The domed dial is also made with a copper and gold as a base, with a galvanic silver circular brushed finishing on top and a Cuprum 479 centre sink. The entire movement is decorated by hand, which includes polished edges, bevelled angles, blued screws, decorated barrels, hand-lacquered engravings and more.
From every angle, the Alchemists Watches Cu29 Creative Act II is impressive, with all the movement’s layers in full display. The bulbous sapphire, widening slightly from the base to the top actually, even extends down to the crown and hugs the winding stem. This is a small detail but enhances the openness of the watch even more, as the dome passes down to the case even further.
All in all, there is a lot to be said about Alchemists Watches. Yes, you can argue the validity of the claims regarding the beneficial properties in the use of materials and we’ll leave that with you. What we do know, looking at this from a watchmaking perspective, it is a superbly complex and creative piece, finished to the highest standards.
Each Alchemists Watches Cu29 Creative Act II is made by a single watchmaker, and no more than 5 will be built. All this complexity comes at a hefty price though, with an example of the Cu29 Creative Act II costing CHF 163,000. It is worn on a black alligator leather strap with a Cuprum 479 pin-buckle.
More information on Alchemists.Swiss.