Today is the official opening of the London-based watch show, Salon QP. This means we’ll see novelties from some of the 50 watch brands exposing there. First one to shoot is Schwarz Etienne, which unveils some new versions of its fascinating La Chaux-de-fonds Tourbillon Petite Seconde Retrograde – one steel with blue Lapis Lazuli stone dial edition and one white gold with blue Opal stone dial. Luxurious dials, nice finishing and complex movement… Overview!
While the brand still remains quite low key, the Schwarz Etienne La Chaux-de-fonds Tourbillon Petite Seconde Retrograde is a watch that some of you might have seen before, as our own Xavier presented it to you on Monochrome recently. As a reminder, the story of Schwarz Etienne goes as far back as 1902 when Paul Arthur Schwarz and his wife Olga Etienne founded a fabrique in La Chaux de Fonds, combining their two surnames. Paul Schwarz Etienne, and then later his descendants, eventually owning brands such as Alpha and Venus. Schwarz Etienne was also involved in manufacturing activities for prominent clients such as Dunhill and Chanel.
In the mid-2000s a businessman, Raffaello Radicchi, invested in reviving this century-old heritage and in 2008, Schwarz Etienne put into action a plan to develop and produce movements in-house. The idea was to develop a modular family of calibres, always with the same fitting calibre, even with the adjunction of additional functions. This led to the introduction of the MSE (Manual Schwarz Etienne) calibre in 2012, followed by the introduction of several new watches, including this, the Tourbillon Petite Seconde Retrograde.
This Tourbillon Petite Seconde Retrograde by Schwarz Etienne is their most complex watch to date. And indeed, it is quite a complex timepiece, which underlines the versatility of the original construction of its base movement. Unlike the dozens of watches that many of us would love to wear with the down side up, just to be able to contemplate the movement more than the indication of the time, the Tourbillon PSR is just that and displays the time in a truly mechanical environment. In fact, the entire movement is reversed. All of the usual elements found on the caseback side are here presented as part the dial.
As you can see on the images, the Tourbillon Petite Seconde Retrograde exposes its movement on the dial side, although not as on a skeleton watch, but in a more traditional way, with elements visible between the bridges. A closer inspection at the dial reveals: the micro-rotor at 9, the large barrel (that boasts 72 hours of power reserve) just in the middle of the hour and minute dial (slightly visible, but not too much in order to keep a decent legibility of the time), the tourbillon, which rotates counterclockwise (reversed movement obliges) and there’s something intriguing above that tourbillon…
Indeed, as indicated by its name, the Schwarz Etienne La Chaux-de-fonds Tourbillon Petite Seconde Retrograde integrates an original and mechanically interesting display of the seconds. Built directly in connection with the Tourbillon, a snail cam (colimaçon for those eager to build their French watchmaking vocabulary) is mounted on the tourbillon arbour. A ratchet gear rests on this cam while the system is tensioned with a spring made by E2O Innovations (sister company of Schwartz Etienne). The mechanism, therefore, allows for the small second hand to advance along an arc and then suddenly jump back to recommence at the starting point.
Those with have developed knowledge in watchmaking will easily argue that such a device could potentially affect the correct running of the tourbillon, by creating frictions or consuming some of the torque. In fact, this retrograde second system is quite clever. Because the cam is shaped with a constantly increasing diameter, there is little disturbance in the way to Tourbillon is running, although the retrograde seconds is mounted directly on its arbour. In this respect, Schwarz Etienne reports that the amplitude loss is less than 10%, which allows the tourbillon to operate efficiently.
As for today’s matters, Schwartz Etienne introduces two new versions of the Tourbillon Petite Seconde Retrograde. The first one has the 44mm case crafted in steel and shows some dial rings made in turquoise-blue Lapis Lazuli stone (the lighter of the two versions). The second new edition of this Tourbillon PSR is made in 18k white gold and features dial rings of blue Opal stone (the darker of the two). Both feature a movement with anthracite coating and are worn on black alligator leather straps, with stitching and alligator lining matching the colour of the stones.
The steel/Lapis Lazuli version (left) – the white gold/blue Opal version (right)
These two new Schwarz Etienne La Chaux-de-Fonds Tourbillon PSR will be visible at QP 2017 as of tonight. Prices are CHF 65,500 for the steel version and CHF 99,900 for the white gold edition (prices inc. taxes). For more information, visit www.schwarz-etienne.com.
Technical specifications – Schwarz Etienne La Chaux-de-Fonds Tourbillon Petite Seconde Retrograde
- Case: 44 mm – stainless steel or 18k white gold – sapphire crystal – engraved case back with opening on the tourbillon – water resistant to 50m
- Movement: TSE122.00 – 30.40 x 7.05 mm – mechanical with automatic winding (micro-rotor) – min. 72h power reserve – 28,800 vibrations/h – 40 jewels –off-centred indication of the hours and minutes, retrograde seconds, one-minute tourbillon
- Strap: alligator strap with alligator lining, folding buckle matching the case material
- Price: CHF 65,500 for the steel version – CHF 99,900 for the white gold edition