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Christophe Claret  - Baselworld 2014 : Queen Margot and King Maestoso

Christophe Claret Baselworld 2014 : Queen Margot and King Maestoso

The Christophe Claret manufacture has embarked on a new stage in its journey, in the company of the fairer sex, by introducing its first ladies’ timepiece. Alongside it comes the Maestoso, king of eighteenth-century watchmaking specialities.

Are there any boundaries that the Claret manufacture hasn’t pushed back? From a technical point of view, there are no longer very many for the master watchmaker. One final frontier did remain for the firm though – and it was sociological rather than technical: that of ladies’ watches.

Now this border has been crossed, too. After three years in the making (and 25 years of existence for the manufacture), Christophe Claret has finally made his dream come true: that of producing a genuine complication specifically for ladies’ watches.

In the past, Christophe Claret suggested various projects to a number of major Swiss watch brands. Unfortunately, none of them had ever been greenlit: the ladies’ complication market was deemed to have too little potential by the brands in question. The watchmaker did not share this opinion, and promised himself that as soon as he could, he would launch a ladies’ complication under his own brand. Of course, others might follow – but they would perhaps not be as complicated.

The revelation goes by the name of Margot. As always with Christophe Claret, the timepiece is utterly unlike anything that’s gone before. It’s unique, fun and eminently technical – all the master’s own special attributes, like the principle of the game complication, also to be found on other timepieces such as the Blackjack and more recently, the Poker.

The Margot is based on the time-honoured principle of petal-picking: “He loves me, he loves me not...”. At some point, all lovers have played at removing the petals of a daisy one by one, eagerly awaiting the final verdict.

The Margot is named after the flower and reproduces that magical feeling with its animated dial. There’s a daisy in the centre. When the pusher at 2 o’clock is pressed, the magic begins to work. One or more petals are picked off each time the pusher is pressed, mimicking the chance inherent in nature – and displaying various feelings of the owner’s beloved in a window at 5 o’clock. A second pusher at 4 o’clock is used to reset the function: all the petals instantly reappear around the pistil – and the window displays an ellipsis.

The Margot also features another of the manufacture’s beloved complications: the striking chime. Each time the pusher is pressed a chime rings, providing a musical accompaniment to the action. The chime mechanism is visible through a window in the case band. The hammer is adorned with a prong-set ruby. It moves upwards to strike the gong, its movement clearly visible.


Christophe Claret Mouvement de la montre Margot


From an aesthetic point of view, the approach Christophe Claret has taken to the ladies’ watch is now clear. The master watchmaker announced his project over a year ago, but no watch created so far gave any hint of his final design choices.

Now the combination of technical materials and precious stones is here for all to see. The dial is covered in shimmering, natural mother-of-pearl, revealing delicately engraved verses penned by Victor Hugo from the poem Unité, published in Les Contemplations. The poem tells the story of a daisy talking to the sun. Three pear-shaped diamonds poetically set the scene, marking out 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. The twelve white, satin-lacquered titanium petals surround a yellow sapphire pistil, with two gold-tipped steel hands gliding over them. The two-level corolla heightens the three-dimensional appearance of the dial.

Lastly, as on the Poker, Christophe Claret has used the oscillating weight to create an additional animation. This features eight triangular precious stones of different colours, each of which symbolises a different feeling: hope, passion, tenderness, and so on. Each of them can line up with the red-lacquered heart at six o’clock.


Christophe Claret Montre Margot


Maestoso: back to business

For men, the manufacture is unveiling the Maestoso. Even before taking a closer look, the frenzied pace at which Christophe Claret has been unveiling his innovations is plain: four in one year, with the Kantharos 12 months ago, the Poker two months ago and now another two new watches: the Margot and the Maestoso.

The Maestoso boasts a pivoted detent escapement, a type invented in the eighteenth century. The aim with this escapement is for it to be accurate enough to allow one’s exact geographical position at sea to be determined. The escapement, seen as the quintessence of precision, even ahead of the tourbillon, is traditionally equipped with a laminated gold blade spring.  Christophe Claret has made sure to adhere to all these characteristics, down to the finest detail.


Christophe Claret Mouvement de la montre Maestoso


In its day, the detent escapement was to be found primarily in navy chronometers, mounted on gimbals to ensure an invariable position. In a wristwatch it is exposed to two distinct hazards.

The slightest impact to the detent may cause it to stop, thus releasing the escape wheel, which could break as a result. The other danger is overbanking, in which an impact, or simply setting the time, can cause the escape wheel to run on.

To prevent the detent from turning over, an anti-pivot cam, of a piece with the spring balance, works in conjunction with the safety pawl. The assembly is fitted between a mainplate and two sapphire bridges, and pivots on a ball bearing that distributes the load on the escapement. It absorbs the impacts automatically by means of a spring, which provides the necessary flexibility.

To counter the risks of overbanking, a flexible thrust bearing fitted on the wheel and connected to the balance absorbs any excess energy. Christophe Claret has also endowed the watch with a constant force system, guaranteeing stable energy and amplitude throughout the power reserve. The constant force spring, wound up by the barrel, always releases the same amount of energy at regular intervals, making the torque to the escapement more constant.

Three alternatives will be on offer for the 44mm case, with 20 timepieces manufactured for each.


Christophe Claret Montre Maestoso


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The Christophe Claret watches are truly exceptional mechanisms. They testify to expertise resolutely geared towards technological innovation and consistently pushing back the limits of watchmaking in order to offer original ways of reading the time.

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