When Harry Winston first began creating timepieces in 1989, with watches designed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and the late Roger Dubuis, it probably didn’t expect to become known for its avant-gardist takes on high watchmaking. With the introduction of the Opus program in 2001, followed by Project Z and the Histoire de Tourbillon in 2004 and 2010 respectively, that’s changed. At Time to Move this year, the brand introduced its 10th Histoire watch as well as a new Zalium watch, the Project Z13.
The Histoire de Tourbillon 10
The 10th edition of this tourbillon-dedicated line of watches sees a quadruple tourbillon, triple differential construction that drives its precision even further. Tourbillons are a high watchmaking device, housing the regulating organs of the movement in a rotating cage so as to average out the effects of gravity on the isochronism of the hairspring. The more these differences can be averaged out, the smaller the difference. That’s achieved via three differentials, with two of them connecting a pair of tourbillons each, and a central differential that averages out the two differentials’ operation, and controlling the time display on the dial.
The tourbillons run at a rapid 36 seconds per rotation, and that consumes plenty of power. This is managed by two sets of mainsprings that run successively and are visible through the case back. These distribute the power out and help to reduce the fluctuations in energy delivered to the four tourbillons as the mainsprings unwind, thus losing torque. To show the entire movement off, the rectangular case is protected by a rounded rectangular glass box with two bridges that encircle the sapphire crystal.
Three versions of the watch will be produced, with a unique piece crafted in Winstonium and two editions of 10 pieces each in white and rose gold. The Winstonium model has two large, blued tourbillon bridges with rhodium-plated platinum bridges for the rest of the movement. The white gold model has rhodium-plated titanium tourbillon bridges and a dark grey platinum for the other bridges; the rose gold version inverts them. The Winstonium and white gold models come with alligator leather straps stitched with platinum thread, while the rose gold is in black-and-copper toned alligator leather, which gives it a warm, aged feel, quite perfect for the Histoire.
The Project Z13
Project Z started out as an innovation test-bed for the Harry Winston-exclusive alloy, and since then has expanded greatly. The Z13 combines the use of Zalium with carbon fiber, and plays up the opposition of contemporary and classical watchmaking with its design. It offers two classic complications: a moon phase display and retrograde date, in a very modern take on both. The moon shown bears the brand’s Shuriken symbol and is 12-sided rather than round. The retrograde date, which occupies nearly half the dial, uses a slab-style font with a gradient blue treatment that’s novel in style.
The time is shown on the upper half of the dial and has an openworked display that is modern in style, somewhat akin to the rims on a wheel. The dial is skeletonised to show the HW3202 calibre driving the watch, with the moonphase display suspended on four carbon fiber arms to the edges of the movement, and around the chapter ring of the time display. The carbon fibre details are coloured blue, enhancing the texture of the material. The brushed bezel lugs and crown guard surfaces contrast with the sandblasted corners, turning this watch into a 21st-century classic.
The Midnight Yozora Automatic
An unexpected addition to the classic Midnight collection is the Yozara Automatic, a two-model, his-and-hers three-hander that combines three classic Japanese decorative techniques on the watches. This was made possible with a partnership with Japanese firm Nakaya. The word Yozora refers to the sky, and the dial presents the Harry Winston Fifth Avenue Salon’s arched entrance on a dark night.
Nakaya is a bespoke Japanese fountain pen maker that’s regarded to be one of, if not the best penmaker in the world. The firm creates writing instruments that are calibrated to just how you write, and every aspect of their pens is made by hand. Fine Japanese penmakers frequently use three classic crafts, urushi lacquer, maki-e and raden mother-of-pearl to create incredibly detailed scenes on the body of the pen. The crafts are often used in furniture, lacquerware and more. The three crafts are applied to the two timepieces, sized at 42mm for the gentleman, and at 39mm for the lady with a touch of sparkle on the bezel and lugs.
Urushi is a traditional lacquer craft that requires layer upon layer of the glossy lacquer to be applied on a surface, until it achieves a protective, even and glossy sheen. It’s frequently combined with maki-e, which is the sprinkling of metallic powder on damp urushi lacquer, to form patterns. In the Midnight Yozora watches, palladium and platinum powder is applied, and the hour indexes as well as the doorway and extending rays are all hand-painted with palladium maki-e.
These two techniques are combined with raden, which uses mother-of-pearl inlays pressed into the urushi lacquer to deliver an ethereal shimmer and iridescence, which is shown in the door on both dials. The dial also has an emerald cut diamond set at the ’12’ marker, a reference to the brand’s jewellery heritage. An automatic movement with a 3-day power reserve and silicon hairspring keeps the watch running smoothly, with a slim sub-10mm waistline for the watch. The watch comes with a matching Nakaya pen and is delivered in a handmade bamboo box, both of which exemplify the simple sophistication of Japanese handcrafts.