Today we’re covering the second watch by a young French independent watchmaker who goes by the name of Théo Auffret. Just last year, we kicked things off for you with his marvellous Tourbillon in Paris subscription watch. This featured an in-house made and finished tourbillon regulator movement packing a very traditional punch. Following the success of his break-out watch, he is now ready with his second watch, which takes the concept into a whole new direction. Called the Tourbillon Grand Sport, it once again confirms that the future of independent watchmaking is in good hands with watchmakers like Théo Auffret.
Théo Auffret was born in 1995, which makes him one of the youngest independent watchmakers at this level in France. A student at the Lycée Edgar Faure in Morteau, France, he learned the craft through an apprenticeship with Denis Coperchot and with Jean-Baptiste Viot restoring watches. It was the latter that taught Théo more about watch construction with the work needed for Viot’s Calibre 14. Following the apprenticeships, Théo continued to gather knowledge and experience by working at Ateliers 7h38 of Luca Soprano, who works for various brands, including Jacob & Co. The prototype of the Tourbillon in Paris watch won him the 2018 Journe Young Talen Programme alongside Remy Cools. His first watch was sold through a subscription program, as Théo has a capacity of three to four watches per year.
Where the Tourbillon in Paris came in a stainless steel case with a very classical style (with titanium, gold or platinum also available), the Tourbillon Grand Sport lives up to its name, especially the “Sport” suffix. The newly designed case is a lot more complex and gives off a very modern vibe. The prototype is in steel, but the finished watches will be in titanium. The idea was to build a design with an integrated connection to the strap, which he’s succeeded in doing. It measures 41mm in diameter and 13mm in height, so it’s a nicely proportioned watch. The domed sapphire crystal kicks up the height of the case a little, so visually, it will look a bit slimmer in real life. The profile of the case is concave, with a concave bezel and caseback sandwiching it. The edges are bevelled and polished, while the rest is brushed. Two small welts protrude from the caseband to embrace the sturdy-looking crown.
As you can see, there’s no such thing as a traditional dial in the Tourbillon Grand Sport, nor was there one on the Tourbillon in Paris, for that matter. Instead, there is a sapphire crystal chapter ring with a dotted minute track and the applied hour indices, as well as the integrated small seconds chapter ring around the tourbillon escapement. The stainless steel hands for the hours and minutes are mounted in the centre instead of the split regulator-style indications we saw previously. The hands themselves are blued, with bear-metal droplet-shaped tips. The very slender seconds hand, mounted on the tourbillon, is in titanium, as well as the hand for the torque reserve display in the bottom right corner. This follows an arched bridge with a white and red scale for the torque levels.
The movement inside the Tourbillon Grand Sport is an evolution of the concept of Théo Auffret’s Tourbillon in Paris subscription watch, although it’s no longer a regulator. Instead, it now indicates central hour and minutes, with a seconds hand fitted to the one-minute tourbillon, as mentioned. What’s new is the torque reserve indicator in the bottom right corner of the movement. This shows you the remaining level of torque in the movement and not the number of hours of running time that’s left. Of course, this also signals when the watch needs to be wound. The style of the details and finishing is also a lot more contemporary, whereas before, it featured much more traditional, almost steampunk looks.
Overall it looks a lot more refined (not that the first model looked bad, on the contrary!), with reworked bridges, the sapphire chapter ring and improved levels of finishing. Taking a look at the backside reveals more of the sumptuous details found in the Tourbillon in Paris. The mainplate is machined out of German Silver, which always has a very nice champagne tone to it, and finished with a technique called “Charbonage”. Théo uses a Precision Engineering Swiss lever escapement, as well as some parts of a Peseux 260 calibre. For most components, specialist suppliers are involved, but the adjustments, finishing and assembly are all done in-house. The movement runs at a rate of 21,600vph and offers 50 hours of autonomy when fully wound. Everywhere you look, you’ll find details such as bevelled edges, polishing, frosting, various types of graining, etc. Even the spokes on the tourbillon carriage are rounded, which is not easily done given the complexity and delicacy of the components.
No more than four Tourbillon Grand Sport watches will be built by Théo Auffret and his team, and all will be sold through a Montre de Souscription or subscription program. The watch comes on a light-grey handmade leather strap with a simple yet effective pin buckle. The strap recreates the look of an integrated bracelet, especially in the way it connects to the lug sections and the tone of grey of the alligator leather. The price for the Théo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport is EUR 128,000 (before taxes), which certainly is a lot of money, but it does buy you one spectacular watch! The watch is also selected as a finalist for the 2022 GPHG awards ceremony in the Tourbillon category, and it would be a crowning achievement by the youngster if he can trump the other competitors!
For more information, please visit Auffret-Paris.com.