Just when I thought that this year's horological trickery was coming to an end, I received news of the new and aptly named Revelation R04 Tourbillon Magical Watch Dial.
Recently The WatchPress.com have had the pleasure of featuring a few illusory treasures - Konstantin Chaykin's superb Mystery watch, Raúl Pagès' exquisite mechanical “La Tortue Automaton”, the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Seconde Mystérieuse and of course most recently the fluid mechanics of the Ressence Type 3 - all are meritorious for their ability to confound and allure the innocent on-looker.
The Revelation R04 Tourbillon offers something entirely unique - this is a watch with two personas one which displays an almost ordinary black dial and one which features no dial at all, but which offers a splendid look-see through to a very unusual calibre. This split personality occurs simply by rotating the bezel by 90 degrees – Simply? Of course such a dramatic conversion is anything but simple – but then Revelation are, in watchmaking terms, vanguards of technical achievement.
Revelation employed the services of CSEM to help turn their vision into reality. This is the second time in a week that the technical team at Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique have made watchmaking news, from their "clean rooms" an almost imperceptible strip of silicon was manipulated to become a pivotal part of the next generation of escapement technology in the Girard-Perregaux Constant Force Escapement. They are renowned for their innovational achievements in watchmaking and therefore were a perfect partner for Revelaton in their pursuit for this unprecedented watchmaking adventure.
The disappearance and reappearance of the movement has at the centre of its trickery two “polarizing glasses” placed one above the other. Each is made up of 3D slivers which are so tiny that individually they would almost be nonentities – but grouped together they behave like little shutters which change from horizontal to vertical positions to either block light or allow it through to the movement. This is precision optical engineering this is Haute Horlogerie, and this is ingenious.
The calibre which can be glimpsed on demand is also remarkable. The Tourbillon Manège movement is so-named because it continuously revolves just like a carousel. The balance, pallet lever, escape wheel and pinion are mounted on a moving arm - the bridge of the tourbillon. This bridge is sandwiched between two wheels which are mounted on the central axis. This transfers the power supplied by the four barrels via a conventional gear train. Just like a more traditional tourbillon, this pair of gears cause it to rotate and make its revolution in one minute. Its industrial and zestful activity makes it well worth the bezel operated transformation from black dial to transparent, from the plainness of the exterior to the labyrinthine interior.
I can not stress how complex the construction of this timepiece is. The make-up of the calibre is elaborate, the case which by its operative nature is in fact a complication in itself and not merely a housing for the movement was meticulously designed to harmonize with the movement from sketch pad to end product and of course, the trickery of the dial raises it own laboratory-based requirements, yet all three elements which each require individual disciplines in their concept and design have to conform to eachother's needs.
If the adage of "Fortune Favours the Brave" is true, then Anouk Danthe and Olivier Leu Revelation's founders should already consider themselves to be courageous indeed. Together they founded their watchbrand in 2005 with the ambition of creating a new collection of timepieces which would blend the traditional with the innovational. The years that followed have taken them on a journey compounded with the highs - the realisation that perhaps after all there were individuals out there who could translate their holorogical musings and make them into an on-the-wrist reality and the lows - the development of an inadequate prototype which would hold back their unveiling for a whole year. Undaunted, they dug deep, reconsolidated everything and despite having to oversee the numerous contractors which were necessary to bring this project to fruition somehow managed to achieve their ambitions to great effect. What they have created is an original and beautiful concept, and a technical triumph.
The Revelation Ro4 Tourbillon Magical Watch Dial timepiece which will be unveiled at BaselWorld this year features a 45mm 18 kt pink gold case with titanium black PVD coated elements and comes presented on a black rubber strap.
More details at the Revelation offical site.