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Transparency and watches

The instinct of the voyeur

A watch is like a small magic box that encloses an unknown universe. Tiny elements that rotate, tick, and oscillate to describe something ineffable, namely the passage of time. And man has always loved to peek inside their cases, revealing the movement of these precious little mechanisms. In ancient times, he did so by lifting a lid and revealing a world that was often astonishing, a wunderkammer in miniature.

orologio tasca scheletrato
Movement of a no-name pocket watch, circa 1850

Such was the case with some pocket watches from the German part of Switzerland, whose bridges were expertly chiseled to create panoramas, places, and domestic and rural scenes – small private delights for their owner and those invited to see them. And today, as watches have migrated to the wrist, the pleasure of contemplating the movement remains. The introduction of the visible case back has made it possible to reveal the caliber of many watches until recently reticent to show their innards. But today, from the simplest pieces to the wonders of Haute Horlogerie, this privilege is granted to many.

Discover the perfection of circle in watches

The Maisons have since competed to embellish these mechanical elements, creating particular patterns or striking engravings on bridges and rotors-the modern evolution of our ancestors’ little secret landscapes, as happens in this beautiful Glashütte Original Sixties, a watch that looks almost plain at first glance, but once examined from the back through the exposed case back shows an expertly chiseled rotor and a bridge decoration in Bande di Glashütte.

Glashutte Original sixties movement
Transparent case back of a Glashütte Original Sixties, with a decorated central rotor

And others, to further this mechanical voyeurism, have thought of skeletonizing bridges and plates, making the framework of the mechanical caliber almost transparent so that we can admire the moving elements even more easily. Despite the complexity of the operation, even relatively inexpensive watches offer this kind of solution, such as the brand new (and very Italian) Nereide Ultraleggero 42 from Venezianico, with a steel case and a patented multi-level skeletonized dial with a design inspired by the Vitruvian Man.

venezianico nereide ultraleggero
The multi-level construction of the Venezianico Nereide Ultraleggero 42

Others, however, have gone to an even higher level: they have thought of creating transparent cases, exploiting the design to fabricate a kind of jewel displayed and protected by four walls of sapphire crystal. This is the case of what an Italian master watchmaker, Vincent Calabrese, has done, creating this veritable masterpiece of design for Corum: his Golden Bridge.

corum golden bridge
The precious chest of the Corum Golden Bridge

This timepiece has become a legend and consecrated Calabrese in the Olympus of Haute Horlogerie. Or finally, making use of modern evolutions in materials. Aventi, a Singapore Maison, offers its futuristic A15 Wraith with a case made of an innovative material called Saphite (TM), a development of sapphire crystal that is even more transparent and can be colored in every shade. The model unveiled in September 2022 is reminiscent of the precious tourmalines of the Paraiba and a Swiss “heart” animated by a tourbillon. In short, the allure of the see-through continues to tempt and seduce and is also found in something seemingly unexpected: the watches we wear every day. (Franz Rivoira)

The transparent case in Saphite (TM) Paraiba of the Aventi A15 Wraith

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