If you follow the world of independent watchmaking, you are probably familiar with Karsten Fraessdorf and his work for Fabrication De Montres Normandes, Heritage Watch Manufactory, Leroy… without mentioning other behind-the-scene developments for watch brands. The German master watchmaker is one of those rare talents capable of creating watches literally from the ground up, including self-developed escapements or oscillators. For the past few years, he has been making watches under his name – Montres KF – with a spectacular tourbillon packed with innovative solutions. Customisable to the max, the concept now returns with several technical and aesthetical upgrades. Meet the Montres KF EI8HT.
The first thing to catch your eye with the EI8HT is, of course, the brand-new look for the Montres KF Tourbillon. Instead of the rather traditional round barrel-shaped case, it is now presented in a sportier, edgier, angular case with an octagonal flat bezel. Its architectural design is emphasised by a spectacular combination of brushed and polished surfaces. At 44.5mm, it is admittedly on the large side but wears quite comfy thanks to its reduced weight (the watch we had for review was in steel).
The Montres KF EI8HT stands out with a surprising sense of depth. Complementing the case, the ‘sandwich’ dial (produced in-house) features a multi-dimensional honeycomb pattern and applied luminescent Arabic numerals. Ensconced around the dial, the flange provides a sloping transition from the bezel to the dial base. Last but not least, the huge slow-beating ballet of the tourbillon is truly fascinating to look at.
Precision, Resistance and Innovations
From a technical perspective, the EI8HT relies on many of the cool feats and innovations of the Montres KF Tourbillon Sport… but with several notable upgrades.
The underlying philosophy remains the same. Fraessdorf’s primary focus is clearly precision and resistance. The hand-wound Novamag calibre is regulated by a one-minute tourbillon beating at 18,000 vibrations/hour. Its large dimension is a nod to the tradition of chronometry. The balance wheel features a technical, never-seen-before architecture with variable inertia and auxiliary thermo-compensation – more information about the spirograph balance with our previous review here.
Just as with the previous versions of the Spirograph balance, the hairspring features a Grossmann inner curve and Phillips outer curve for optimal isochronism, hence optimal rate accuracy. It is fashioned out of Straumann alloy for enhanced resistance to magnetic fields. Similarly, several key components of the movement are made out of amagnetic material. A rare feature for a tourbillon, it is fitted with a patented stop-seconds mechanism, thus allowing the time to be set to the second.
A notable upgrade, the movement now features two barrels ensuring a more stable driving force and a beefed-up power reserve. Like before, there is a stop-work mechanism. Although the barrels store energy for 84 hours, a Maltese cross limits the power reserve to 66 hours, using only the optimal range of the springs.
The movement is still a pillar architecture. All parts are fitted in between two plates secured together with pillars instead of having a plate and bridges screwed tightly together. This traditional architecture is inspired by that of marine chronometers. Besides the spectacular look, the honeycomb openworked plate creates a reliable, efficient and light structure. Altogether, the unusual architecture offers enhanced shock-resistance, among other reasons because it allows for a reduction in the weight of the movement.
Last but not least, the keyless works integrate a patented anti-shock system to protect the movement in the event of a shock on the crown.
As you would have guessed, the Montres KF EI8HT is an exclusive production involving extensive handwork. This, in turn, allows for an impressive level of customisation. And we are not talking about simply choosing the dial colour but the case material, the hands, the dial, diamond-setting, the engraving on the crown, etc. You can even get your own initials on the balance wheel weights with luminescent material if you wish!
The Montres KF EI8HT we had for review came with an alligator strap with a practical spring-mounted triple-blade folding buckle. Retail price starts at CHF 100,000 and then depends on the customisation options.