There are watches and then there is the Rebellion 540 Magnum Tourbillon. Actually it is only the tourbillon part of its name that gives it away that we are actually talking about a watch, and not an assault rifle or muscle car. That’s not to say that the Rebellion 540 Magnum Tourbillon doesn’t have anything in common with those two, because it is as subtle as an assault rifle and as powerful as a muscle car. And that is a good thing!

The Rebellion 540 Magnum Tourbillon was introduced at the end of last year and can best be described as Haute Horlogerie on steroids. It redefines the boundaries of Haute Horlogerie by approaching it in a very contemporary and innovative way. Much of this is achieved by its bold looks that would make it on anybody’s wrist a statement piece, not to mention a conversation starter! With dimensions of 46 mm wide, 56.7 mm long and a thickness of 19.6 mm, this is a watch just shouting for attention.

The 540 Magnum Tourbillon though is more than about sheer body mass. The skilled pencil of watch designer Eric Giroud (Experiment ZR012, Romain Jerome Spacecraft) has ensured that the case has a certain elegance. Of course, we’re not talking about the classical kind of elegance here, but even combined with your cut-to-the-bone Brioni suit, you won’t commit any faux pas with this watch. Just don’t expect it to fit under your cuff though. Clever details give the watch a polished and refined industrial look that makes an even bigger visual impact because the case is crafted out of carbon fiber. Not only does this result in a pleasantly sinister look, it also ensures that the weight of the watch stays within wearable limits.

Rebellion 540 magnum tourbillon caseRebellion is a  brand that can easily fool you with their bold design, but that is not all  they bring to the table. Behind the visual splendour, there is indeed a technical prowess present that makes the watch not a empty promise of great design, but also a statement of contemporary Haute Horlogerie. Rebellion has achieved this by combining old school craftsmanship with innovative materials and time displays. This becomes especially clear when you realize that the man who developed the movement of the 540 Magnum Tourbillon for Rebellion is one David Candaux, the man behind the Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica, the Fonderie 47,(a watch crafted partially from scrapped assault rifles) and the superlative Badollet Ivresse. There is no AK47-metal for the new Rebellion, instead an aluminium main plate and a carbon-fibre back plate supporting the gear train is used, not at all common in the world of the Haute Horlogerie. In fact the style brings to mind the movements that high-end movement maker BNB created, before it went bust and got bought out by Hublot.

Rebellion 540 magnum tourbillon backThe movement, though, of the 540 Magnum Tourbillon, named caliber T-14, has more than enough to make the mouth of even the most spoiled watch connoisseur water with anticipation. First and foremost, there is the extra large tourbillon at a stupendous diameter of 17.2mm and a circumference of 540 tenths of a millimetre. The “540” in the name of the watch comes from this measurement. This tourbillon is crafted out of magnesium and covered with a micro-thin ceramic protection layer. On the subject of names, the “14” in the name of the caliber refers to the power reserve of the watch, measured not in hours obviously, but in days. To accomplish this, the movement has two barrels that are connected in series. That Rebellion is also in for a joke is evident from the fact that they have relief-engraved words like “Rebel”, “Passion” and “Extreme” amongst others, on the barrels, which slowly pass by on the skeleton dial as the watch winds down.

Rebellion 540 magnum tourbillonThe dial itself remains the visual centre of attention. Because the watch lacks a dial in the traditional sense you are looking straight into the belly of the beast. Apart from the engraved main spring barrels and the tourbillon, the watch also has a retrograde second hand, a precision power reserve indicator displayed by a roller and a general power reserve meter which is chain driven. Rarely does any Haute Horlogerie watch feature so many different time displays on the dial.

Nouveau Riche is a term usually used with a certain undertone by “old money”. Rebellion can, especially with the 540 Magnum Tourbillon, be seen as Nouveau Haute Horlogerie. Make no mistake however, it does not indicate a lack of style or values as with the Nouveau Riche, but the opposite. It brings classical, complicated watchmaking into new waters,  daring to take on old values and sailing forth to new directions. For this, Rebellion can only be applauded. That the 540 Magnum Tourbillon will gain wide praise is very likely, yet the fact that it remains limited to only 10 pieces will mean that only a happy few will be able to enjoy it.

Martin Green
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics