CHRISTOPHE CLARET – When stealth does not go unnoticed
The DualTow is a gem of horological complexity and a distillate of the innovation, expertise and excellence inherent to the Manufacture Christophe Claret. Launched in 2009 to mark the company’s 20th anniversary, it has made a profound and lasting impact thanks to its combination of powerful aesthetics and technical inventiveness. Its subtly sophisticated face provides a discreet backdrop that highlights its exceptional mechanism. Presented in an all-black version and in black with white accents, its stealth-style shape, angular lugs and tinted sapphire bridges are reflected in its intriguing name: NightEagle.
The handful of watch companies capable of creating, developing and ensuring the reliability of totally exclusive and ultra-complex watch movements form an extremely exclusive fraternity to which Christophe Claret SA undeniably belongs. For over 20 years, the Manufacture has consistently devised some of the world’s most complicated new calibres. Few brands admit to outsourcing in creating their most complex models, which explains why, beyond a select circle of connoisseurs, the name of Christophe Claret is little known to the public at large. Nonetheless, from the minute repeater – the first complication developed by this watchmaker – to the orbital tourbillon and the roller-display perpetual calendar, the Manufacture is indisputably one of the most innovative and effective companies in the watch industry.
The DualTow NightEagle – a single-pusher planetary-gear chronograph with striking mechanism and tourbillon, endowed with several inventions, including a patented one – is a concentrated blend of the experience, expertise and mastery of the finest watchmaking acquired and cultivated by Christophe Claret SA. The DualTow collection will in due course comprise 68 unique configurations.
DualTow NightEagle – Constant tension
Representing a stunning alliance between the best of the watchmaking art and a boldly futuristic projection, the DualTow features a variety of references. First of all, to the ultra-secret world of stealth aircraft such as the American F-117 Night Hawk, reflected in the taut lines, sharp angles, tone-on-tone colours and transparency effects. These are indeed exactly the kind of avant-garde and confidential characteristics that inspired Lamborghini in creating its Reventon, the most powerful Lamborghini ever, an earth-bound alter ego of the F-22 Raptor. The design of its wheel rims with its emblematic angled spokes is echoed in the hammers of the NightEagle’s chronograph mechanism. There are also nods to the world of heavy and powerful machinery, such as diggers and lunar modules with their caterpillar tracks: these vehicles convey an impression of raw power that is evoked in the belt-type display. And finally, it symbolically alludes to the royal eagle by borrowing some of the noble bird’s chief attributes, such as a black and white coat and a piercing gaze.
Belt-type display with integrated winding
The two notched belts in a rubber specially developed for Christophe Claret are driven by cylinders placed on either end. To intensify the impression of motion, the design of their sides is directly inspired by racing-car wheel rims. Inside, a screw-tightening module enables ultra-precise adjustment ensuring optimally smooth operation. In addition to this mechanism, the minute belt houses a fully integrated winding and time-setting system. The left-hand belt provides a digital display of the hour, and the right-hand one shows the minutes. On the NightEagle, this original system is enriched with a new and more dynamic instrument-panel type of font. The now slightly sloping numerals appear in black against a white background, or grey against a black background.
Sapphire crystal bridges
The culmination of in-depth research and expertise, the DualTow NightEagle features extensive use of sapphire. This material is extremely hard to work with and constitutes the unique field of activity of only certain highly specialised companies such as Christophe Claret. Christophe Claret has even developed his own production tools in order to be able to machine the material. Not only are all the other components used in the DualTow NightEagle made in-house, but this additional step towards integrating the maximum number of operations relating to Sapphire and watch production remains an exception among movement inventors. A genuine feat of horological architecture, the DualTow NightEagle fully reveals its interior. On the upper part of the movement, three tinted sapphire bridges form a kind of stealth-type dial – a nod to the world-first tourbillon model presented in 1997 and featuring a sapphire mainplate and bridges. The upper bridge is plated with the markings of the chronograph minute and hour counters; the central bridge which juts out on both right and left sides provides a window opening onto the belts and their displays; while the lower bridge, which resembles the wing of a stealth aircraft, replaces the tourbillon and incorporates a sweep seconds hand. No exterior element disturbs the delicate inner workings of the DualTow. This complete transparency affords a striking vision, but also eloquently expresses a sense of life through the motion of the tourbillon and the intricate interaction of the brakes and levers when the chronograph is activated.
The case-back is fitted with a sapphire crystal to reveal the under side of the movement. It is secured to the case by dedicated screws. Thanks to this configuration specific to the DualTow, Christophe Claret guarantees the exclusivity of any operations at the heart of the watch, since only his company has the necessary expertise and tools.
The rectangular, convex black PVD-coated titanium case is also entirely machined in-house at the Manufacture Christophe Claret. This extremely complex structure consists of 114 parts. The edges are bevelled and the surfaces satin-finished or brushed. On the left-hand side, a wide opening enables one to admire the set of pulleys driving the hour display belt, whereas a smaller window on the right, between the pusher and crown, affords the same fascinating view. The mobile spring-mounted lugs, which adapt perfectly to the wearer’s wrist and guarantee optimal comfort, feature a sharp angle in reference to the avant-garde design of the American F-117 Night Hawk stealth plane.
Although it has the look and feel of rubber, the strap is in fact in leather. The manufacturing process, involving a series of impregnation and polishing operations, creates a truly striking effect. It is equipped with an exclusive adjustable clasp. Composed of three blades, decorative covers and two mobile parts, it enables the wearer to extend it easily by as much as one centimetre. This user-friendly flexibility ensures undeniable comfort when the wrist is slightly swollen at the end of the day and the initial setting becomes too tight.
DualTow – the Mechanism
The major innovation introduced in the DualTow is its single-pusher chronograph function operating by means of three identically structured planetary gears. Directly linked to the movement, the continuously driven planetary-gear entry wheel is connected to a satellite-holder pivoting on the arbor of the entry wheel which bears two satellites rotating in turn. Placed on an axis parallel to the entry wheel, the latter mesh with the exit wheel located in the upper part of the satellite-holder. At the top, a cam surmounted by a hand is fixed to the same arbor as the entry wheel, connected to the exit wheel, and serves to reset the chronograph. The entry wheel transmits its movement in two different ways. When the hand rotation is blocked, it drives the satellite-holder which then spins in the void. This operation corresponds to the chronograph stop and reset positions; whereas when the chronograph is in the start position, the satellite-holder is blocked and the rotating motion of the entry wheel is transmitted to the hand.
When the chronograph is activated, the column wheel moves one notch forward and raises the reset hammers. The start brakes then drop to block the three satellite- holders and the hands begin turning immediately, since the energy is transmitted from the entry wheels to the exit wheels. A second push halts the running of the mechanism. The column wheel moves another notch forward and lifts the start brakes, which releases the satellite-holders. The stop brakes then drop to block a disc connected to the hands. At the third press, the column wheel moves yet another notch forward and the stop brakes lift to release the exit wheel. The hammers then drop onto the cams and cause them to rotate until the hands return to zero. The chronograph cycle is thus complete and the system is ready for another measurement.
An exclusive patent has been filed for this entirely original interpretation of the chronograph, in order to defend the peerless technical qualities of the system. The operational mode of this complication ensures the regular rate of the calibre because the torque required is consistently identical, whatever the position (start, stop or reset). Contrary to a classic chronograph, the movement is thus not subject to any major variations in the amplitude of the balance liable to disturb its rating regularity, an advantage that naturally improves its precision.
Building on this successful innovation, Christophe Claret has chosen to further enhance the refinement of this calibre by adding a striking mechanism signalling the chronograph start, stop and reset operations. Enriched by the considerable expertise acquired by the Manufacture in the field of striking mechanisms and musical movements, it rings out with an exceptionally pure, clear tone. The snail-shaped gong is one of the most sophisticated and delicate to develop and produce.
Expressing their unfailing attention to each and every detail, the watchmaker and his team set the finishing touch to the mechanism by equipping it with a chronograph function indicator. The wearer can at any time keep track of its mode of operation.
Playing on a perfectly symmetrical design, the mechanism features chronograph hour and minute counters displayed on a tinted sapphire crystal. Respectively positioned at 11 and 1 o’clock, they complement the chronograph seconds hand occupying the centre of the watch. This technical and powerful presentation leaves enough space at 12 o’clock to reveal the full chronograph activation system, composed of a column wheel surrounded by levers and hammers serving to drive the chronograph functions. The gentle motion of this flurry of chronograph levers is somewhat reminiscent of a flower blooming. In an ultimate refined detail, these elements are fixed to a component connected to the mainplate, specially developed and called a “barillot” in reference to its shape evoking the cylinder of a revolver.
In the history of the Manufacture Christophe Claret, the tourbillon is the second major complication to have been developed and incorporated within extremely complex calibres. To highlight this mastery of one of the most spectacular technical expressions of horological tradition, it is positioned in a clearly visible manner at 6 o’clock. Performing a complete rotation in 60 seconds, it is graced with the distinctive carriage featuring the back-to-back double C motif – the initials of Christophe Claret which have become an immediately recognisable signature.
The mechanical hand-wound Calibre CC20A is endowed with an approximately 60-hour power reserve supplied by two barrels. Lined up in parallel in the centre of the movement, the barrel ratchet-wheels are also reminiscent of racing-car wheel rims. An indicator visible on the back of the watch signals the remaining energy available. Like all the movements developed, fine-tuned and produced by the Manufacture, each component of the Calibre CC20A is crafted to the highest levels of excellence in Swiss watchmaking. Confirming the prestigious stature of the DualTow, they are bevelled, hand-drawn, mirror-polished and coloured in keeping with the noblest traditions of hand workmanship. Depending on the colours chosen by the customer for his own particular model, the parts are blued, anodised or treated using PVD or electroplating processes.
CHRISTOPHE CLARET – The benchmark
Hailing from the region of Lyon, in France, Christophe Claret studied watchmaking in Geneva before beginning his career as an antique watch restorer. At the 1987 Basel Fair, the owner of a major Swiss watch company asked him to develop an exclusive minute repeater movement, a commission that encouraged Christophe Claret to found in 1989 his own company in partnership with two other talented watchmakers. In 1992, his instinctive need for independence led him to become the sole owner, so he bought up his partners’ shares and duly renamed the firm Christophe Claret SA. Ever since, his workshops have been constantly inventing and producing movements featuring an ideal blend of horological tradition and cutting-edge technologies.
2009 was a significant milestone in the history of Christophe Claret SA, a turning point that its owner wished to symbolise by releasing an exclusive timepiece produced under the company brand name and distributed by the finest retailers worldwide. The DualTow is a faithful reflection of the watchmaking philosophy inherent to Christophe Claret. Housing several inventions including one patented innovation, this single-pusher planetary-gear chronograph with striking mechanism and tourbillon expresses a combination of technical excellence and sophisticated aesthetics. It also embodies the merging of the wide variety of skills united within the company, since almost all operations involved in making it – from movement development to the machining of the sapphire bridges – have been performed in-house.
Christened “DualTow”, the first Grande Complication timepiece bearing the signature of Christophe Claret and exclusively developed to mark the 20th anniversary of his company, vividly embodies the principles guiding the Manufacture. A symbol of excellence and experience, its CC20A movement eloquently conveys the energy and passion driving the company’s hundred-strong workforce.
The shapes of the DualTow resulted from a constant flow of sketches and ideas circulating between Christophe Claret and his team. Far from having been elaborated by a single person, this timepiece stems from a creative approach all the more original in that it emanates from a company specialised in movement construction. In this case, an initial fairly classical sketch evolved into a version with a stronger and more virile character. As the sketches were successively adjusted, the early rounded curves gave way to sharper angles and more powerful lines of force, as the very essence of the DualTow gradually emerged.
The DualTow shows a different face on each of these unique watches. In step with current demand and the new luxury codes that give customers the freedom of inventing their own version of an object, Christophe Claret offers them a chance to personalise their own DualTow. Thanks to a “configurator” available on the dedicated www.dualtow.ch website, all prospective clients can play with a large range of colours and express their own version of the model. The mainplate and its bridges, for example, are available in a choice of rhodium-plated, black rhodium-plated, 4N gold-plated or black amorphous carbon versions. The hands, the tourbillon bridge and the screws holding the sapphire dial, the hour and minute display forks as well as the differential gear elements are all available in a wide variety of colours. The components featuring rubber – meaning the belt strips, the pusher and the crown – all offer the same possibilities. From hypnos blue to polka red, lipari black or vespucci white, each DualTow is thus totally and unmistakably unique.
Limited edition of 68 timepieces; each unique
The majority of components such as the case, bridges, mainplate, hands, display belts, pusher and wristband can be personalised using the “DualTow Configurator” on www.dualtow.ch.