Karlsruhe, Germany – Reported by Elizabeth Doerr for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine
The shape of the X-TREM-1 is incredibly striking, but it is the unusual display that will probably grab the observer first. And, of course, upon scrutiny, the prospective owner may just fall into sheer disbelief that the time is actually revealed by the work of precise magnetic fields.
Magnetism, typically an archenemy of the mechanical watch, is as rare in luxury timepieces as a snowball is in the Sahara. The X-TREM-1 is very likely the first watch with no mechanical connection between its hands and its movement. Magnetism is utilized to move the hands, which are hollow balls 4mm in diameter moving along scales on either side of the tinted sapphire crystal that vaguely shows the gears and micro-machinery beneath. Their paths are predetermined by tubes of sapphire crystal that keep them in line. The ball-shaped “hands,” encased in sapphire crystal tubes displaying the minutes and hours, are controlled by magnets attached to extremely thin, very strong woven silk thread cables like those used in surgical procedures.
Naturally, Christophe Claret tested the timepiece throughout an 18-month development phase to ensure that the magnetism does not influence the movement. Because the circulation of the magnetic field is strictly limited to the magnets, the filaments that support them and the steel spheres they maneuver, the balance spring remains unaffected.
The manually wound movement is clearly a Claret specialty: The base plate, crafted in titanium for lightness and inclined at the end for ergonomics, contains a rare mechanical pièce de résistance—a dual-wing movement. It is outfitted with twin spring barrels, one providing energy to each of the movement’s “wings.” One of these wings accommodates the gear train and one solely exists for the magnetic time indication.
This limited-edition wristwatch is housed in a truly majestic 40.8 by 56.8 by 15mm case. It is available in white gold, rose gold or naturally colored platinum, all combined with black PVD-coated grade 5 titanium (from $278,000). Mr. Claret is a highly experienced watchmaker, and insiders will know that he is behind many innovative products introduced to the market over the last two decades by other brands. He currently produces about 120 timepieces under his own name per year.