Bovet: from Peking to Pascal Raffy
Of all the horological revival stories out there - Blancpain, Ulysse Nardin to name but two - one that’s interestingly linked with China is Bovet. The maison takes its name from a band of brothers, in the early 1800s, who came from the Bovet family in Fleurier, Neuchâtel, a birthplace of Swiss watchmaking. But it was 21-year-old Edouard Bovet in particular, who was sent from a London trading firm to Canton, who brought the Bovet name to China, where he ventured to try his hand at selling exquisitely decorated watches to the Chinese nobility. Bovet flourished in the Middle Kingdom, and it was one of the historical touchpoints that eventually enticed entrepreneur Pascal Raffy, more than 120 years later, when he bought the house from a small Geneva firm in 2001 (Raffy now also has the title of CEO, and the house is today officially known as Bovet Fleurier SA, or also Bovet 1822). Today the watches still speak to this Chinese heritage courtesy of stunning enamel and miniature painted designs, but have also branched out into other areas of expertise, including mechanical wonders like the Récital 20 Astérium tourbillon complete with an annual calendar or motorsport inspired pieces produced in collaboration with Italian design house Pininfarina. The latter can boast title lead with venerable marques such as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Fiat as clients, and as for the joint Bovet watch, cue a standout item: the titanium Ottantasei that weighs in at an impressive 15.54g only.
Virtuoso VII retrograde perpetual calendar
One standout item in the Bovet portfolio is the Virtuoso VII retrograde perpetual calendar, launched in 2015. With its dual dial design (and available in either a black or white lacquered dial) and either working as a pocket or wrist watch, the timepiece can claim the title as one of the most eye-catching, interesting and multifunctional watches around. The watch tells all kinds of time and calendar functions: day, date, month and leap year, while the retrograde calendar display offers a concentric hours and minutes dial all its own. Having a separate hours and minutes dial is an especially thoughtful design item, which leaves room to show off the specially made calibre, which is further decorated with circular Côtes de Genève engraving.
Récital 20 Astérium
For astronomy buffs, a Bovet watchmaking item which plays on notions of time and space – and which has a superb title – is the Récital 20 Astérium. A true feat of mechanical watchmaking, the 10 day flying tourbillon watch is equipped with a night sky annual calendar packed with astronomical functions, and is beautifully set in a special item: a laser engraved dome of translucent blue quartz. The annual calendar is calculated on a 365.25 day cycle, which measures the actual time of earth’s orbit: 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 9.77 seconds.