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Hysek - Baselworld 2014: A lesson in skeletonisation

Hysek Baselworld 2014: A lesson in skeletonisation

Openworking a watch is a technique, whereas skeletonising a movement is an art. Hysek is one of the rare watch manufacturers to work on both these aspects.

Anyone who strode the aisles at Baselworld 2014 will have noted certain recurrent trends. One of them in particular earned universal approval: skeletonised models and/or openworked models. Why so? Doubtless because this exercise consisting of revealing all or part of a watch movement through the dial provides an opportunity to display its finishing, the complexity of its calibre, to offer a visual play on volumes and shimmering reflections: in short, to highlight skill and expertise.

Proper usage of the right words
Nonetheless, many people either deliberately or involuntarily confuse models that are skeletonised  or openworked. Strictly speaking, the former should reveal a movement deliberately crafted so as to be considerably lighter and reduced to bare essentials in order to allow the light to flood through it; whereas the latter dispenses with all or part of its dial, while unveiling a movement that is fundamentally the same as that of a model with a solid dial. In a nutshell, openworking a watch is a technique, whereas skeletonising a movement is an art.



Hysek is one of the rare watch manufacturers to work on both these aspects. The Kilada Tourbillon, for example, features only one half of a colourful dial, the other being translucent and thus revealing part of the movement. This might thus have been a merely openworked model, but a closer look shows that some parts have been specifically reworked to enhance visibility. The tourbillon bridge is thus graced with four round cut-outs providing a clearer view of the balance-spring.

The core of the matter
In parallel, the brand also presented some authentic skeletonised models. These are distinguished not only by the work of removing material from each part, but also by Hysek’s determination to use skeletonisation to reveal the personality of the Manufacture. The latter is indeed one of the only brands of which the horological complications and sometimes the entire movement are positioned according to extremely precise geometrical lines. For example, Hysek systematically arranges its dials in such a way that the 1, 5, 7 and 11 o’clock positions play a major role in the construction of the model. If a watch has a solid dial, the hour-markers only be in these positions; and if it is skeletonised, the key organs will be revealed in these positions.
One example is the Furtif Tourbillon, which displays the regulating organ after which it is named at 11 o’clock, while the going train stretches clearly right the way to 5 o’clock.



The same underlying principle applies to the new Verdict 46 mm, on which two tourbillons occupy the 5 and 7 o’clock positions; as well as to the 49 mm IO model also unveiled at Baselworld, with the tourbillon at 11 o’clock and the barrel at 7 o’clock. Nothing is coincidental at Hysek, and this skeleton-worked approach clearly reveals the true personality of the brand.

Living skeleton
For Hysek, skeleton watches represent an opportunity not only to play with the art of removing material, but also with its surface treatment and indeed its very nature. On this same IO 49 mm, the brand alternates between various finishes (satin-brushed or shiny), coatings (black PVD, gold plating, nickel silver), and even decorations (circular graining, sunburst or windrose patterns – the latter being a particularly rare finish that Hysek is one of the few to use). On this model, the barrel and its corresponding bridge alone display all three of these decorations.



While the exercise is of course decorative and vividly demonstrates the finishing skills of a Manufacture such as Hysek, there is much more involved. When actually worn on the wrist, these aesthetic variations catch and refract the light in their own unique ways. At the end of the day, the more sophisticated and finely crafted the skeletonisation, the more a model radiates a sense of depth, light – and life! Therein lies the art and paradox of the noble craft of skeletonisation: since when it comes to watchmaking, nothing is more vibrantly alive than a skeleton!


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