The first image that probably comes to mind when you hear the name Harry Winston is exquisite jewelry. However, in the past 20 years they’ve really gotten serious about watchmaking. We’re not talking about the Opus series. As much as we like the experimental and progressive designs that come from the alliance between Harry Winston and independent watchmakers, they only appeal to a niche buyer.
In their own haute horlogerie collection, Harry Winston is creating some pretty outstanding pieces that are more mainstream. At TimeCrafters in September, they debuted the Harry Winston Ocean Tourbillon Big Date, saving some eye candy for the end of the year when new releases from the brands are sparse.
The tourbillon is a popular complication because not only does it demonstrate technical expertise but it’s also fun to watch the escapement making rotations in its cage. It adds a dynamic component on the front of the watch, though it’s debatable if Abraham-Louis Breguet’s invention for pocket watches actually improves timekeeping in watches.
With most tourbillons, the bridge and the movement plate partially obstruct the view, but the Tourbillon Big Date allows a full show for the audience. In this case, the tourbillon appears to float in space without a connection to the rest of the movement and is visible from several angles. Harry Winston created this optical illusion by using a special bridge V-shaped tourbillon bridge and sapphire crystals for both the front and back of the watch.
The time and big date are represented in two ex-center dials that have become a brand signature. While the “diamond point” finish on the big date gives a nod to Harry Winston’s history as a jeweler, traditional Côtes de Genève provide a backdrop to the hours and minutes. Overall, Harry Winston got the balance on the dial right, though we could do without the text “Tourbillon 110 Hours”, which states the obvious with the tourbillon function and detracts a bit from the composition.
Developed exclusively by Dimier for Harry Winston, the hand-wind movement holds 110 hours of power reserve, which is indicated on the caseback, providing juice for up to four and a half days. Offered in either 18K white or rose gold in a 44mm case, the Ocean Tourbillon Big Date is limited to 25 pieces in each metal.
Harry Winston timepieces are right up there in price with some of the top-tier brands. The quality is evident but there’s fierce competition in the price point. Harry Winston still needs to develop some equity in this arena, but there’s time as it’s still a young brand.