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December 18, 2012updated Dec 20, 2023


By Chris Boyle

midnight poetic wish / van cleef & arpels

It Baselworld, a new boutique brand appeared on shore: HYT launched a timepiece that held the watch world in thrall for the duration of the show.

The H1 is the very first timepiece to use liquid for a time display that is powered by a mechanical movement. A large tube encircling the dial is visible; the position of its luminescent green liquid—determined by the manually wound movement—displays the time.

At the same show, Christophe Claret wowed the watch world with the X-TREM-1 tourbillon timepiece that displays the time using magnets. This playful timepiece, which really represents a collector’s dream, utilizes magnetism to move the hands, which are in reality hollow little balls of a 4mm diameter running along scales on either side of the main display within unique tubes of sapphire crystal.

Breguet also used magnets in the latest highfrequency oeuvre from the brand (though it won’t be available until 2013). The Classique Chronometrie 7727 keeps the brand on the cutting edge of watchmaking, while its aesthetics remain firmly rooted in tradition. Its high-speed escapement— boasting a silicon heart beating at 10 Hz rather than the more usual 4—is crafted in silicon, while the balance staff’s pivots are kept in line by magnets rather than the standard ruby jewels.

A different kind of technical watch was exhibited by Van Cleef & Arpels with its Poetic Wish set, which tells the romantic tale of one man and one woman. The engraved man, framed within a 43mm solid gold case stands atop the towers of Notre Dame looking up at the sky. When the bell within the cathedral (and the case) rings, the man moves to the rhythm onto the terrace. A diamond shooting star overtakes him, carrying his Midnight Poetic Wish in the direction of the Eiffel Tower to the rhythm of the gong.

The Lady Arpels Poetic Wish tells the other side of the story within a 39mm white gold case sparkling with diamonds. A young woman stands on the white gold Eiffel Tower. When the movement’s repeater mechanism is activated, she walks along the tower’s platform to the rhythm of the gongs. A kite appears and carries her wish down to the cathedral.

This touching tale comes to life thanks to a 458-component, 32mm manually wound caliber. Boasting more than 70 jewel bearings and 240 different component types, this five-minute repeater beating at 3 Hz literally writes poetry.

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