It is without a doubt one of the horlogical most favorite high end complications; the Tourbillon! Invented by Abraham Louis Breguet, who used in his pocketwatches, it is even today a rockstar amongst wristwatch complications. A bad boy everybody wants to have in his or her collection.
So it is not surprising that there are many great Tourbillon’s out there. Some are modest, some scream from the top of their lungs, Hey you there!! Look at me!! I’m a Tourbillon!! How about that?! But none are like this Tourbillon. A stroke of genius, the understatement of the classical case, combined with the overstatement of the Tourbillon itself, delivering the almost empty promise of a higher precision which we all know is more a visual and technical offering towards this goal than a solid contributor–of course only speaking for wristwatches. But of course in today’s market that is not hardly enough to stand out of the crowd; you do have to bring something extra–no, something extraordinary to the plate. And that is exactly what the Audemars Piguet Edward Piguet Moss Agate Tourbillon does.
With this watch Audemars Piguet puts timekeeping back where it belongs, in natures hands. The “main plate” of this watch is shaped out of Moss Agate. This beautiful semi-precious stone is a cryptocrystalline form of silica, better known as Chalcedony. Other members of this group are, for instance, Aventurine, Tiger’s Eye and Onyx. The translucent qualities of Moss Agate, and the green, plant like crystals that have grown within it, add a nice dash of mystery to this watch, unlike any other Tourbillon. The contrast with the pink gold case and bridges really brings out the best in both.
Things shaped by nature need to be treated with respect and care, particularly when they form the “main plate” of a manufacture Tourbillon movement. Although Moss Agate is not the most fragile of minerals, cutting precise spaces to house the different levels of the gear train is no easy feat. Compare it to creating a house inside a rock mountain in which every room has to be perfectly shaped without weakening the fundamentals of the other rooms. All of this on an almost microscopic scale. Audemars Piguet uses a form of ultrasonic machining to get this tedious job done. A tool vibrating at an ultrasonic frequency slowly cuts away the desired material with the help of an abrasive liquid. How slowly? 1mm an hour! Creating perfection does take patience.
The movement is, however, not completely shaped out of Moss Agate. The gold bridges that support the watch gear trains are engraved in a floral, tree-like design. As odd as this may sound, it works superbly on this watch. Even the small, engraved leaves that form some of the hour indexes fall right in place. It almost makes you think that this watch was not created in the Manufacture in Le Brassus, but somewhere deep in the woods of Switzerland…by elves!
It is the movement that proves that, although utterly extraordinary, this watch is by no means created by those mythical creatures but by the experienced hands of Audemars Piguet Master Watchmakers, who are, by the way, nothing less than mythical. They created a movement that is almost bare to the bone! Manual wind, not a gear too much, and as the only frivolity, the Tourbillon. Obstructed by a bridge in the front, it is actually equipped with second’s hand, although everything more than just a glance will reveal the high end secret behind it. The movement and the Moss Agate main plate blend in so well together, it is almost like they were created together, by nature and cut out of a boulder somewhere to function as a perpetual timekeeper for us mere mortals. You even find yourself following the gear train to see if they are truly all there, because though the Moss Agate is translucent, it is also very good at cloaking.
Without being a piece unique by itself, it is the textures and drawings inside the Moss Agate that are never the same, and make every watch individual. Ironically, here is the Moss Agate canvas and frame at the same time. Canvas to the watch, and frame for its delicate and refined Tourbillon movement. A proposition hard to beat, even in the world of high end watchmaking where people are used to the best, and only the best.