A pharaonic world premiereSuper watch: SHABAKA
JEAN DUNAND Pièces Uniques present a memorable feat of microengineering complexity in its 2009 super watch: the breathtaking combination of a minute-repeater on cathedral gongs plus an instantaneous perpetual calendar with a unique display of the dates, phases of the moon and leap-year cycle, as well as an ingenious state-of-wind indicator.
Defining both the personality and the originality of this impressive timepiece are the calendar indications, defying the convention of discs by instead using four cylinders. A quartet of different 90-degree transmission systems rotate the cylinders, each fitted with a security device to ensure precise calendar changes. Distancing the watch even further from the conventional, the dates – via two digits on separate cylinders – days and months jump instantaneously at midnight, when a sprung mechanism is released. A proprietary flywheel mechanism regulated by a train minimizes any shock from the jump action and so prevents premature wear and tear. No lag, no moment of indecision. And no margin of error.
Leap-year cycles merit their own, equally novel indication: a white plate under the dial, in a cut-out on the dial between 7 and 8 o’clock, illuminates the letter B (for “bissextile”) and the three ordinary years. The leap-year is mirrored by the phases of the moon, with black discs skimming over the surface of the moon as if it were the shadow of the earth, eclipsing it to the left as it wanes, and revealing it from the right as it waxes. The mechanical moon deviates from the real moon by only one day every 120 years. Never has the phase of the moon been indicated on any watch with such elegant artistry.
For all the complexity of the calendar indications, the state-of-wind indicator on the back of the watch is deviously simple yet equally original. A single moving part – the mainspring itself in an open barrel – shows the power reserve of the watch against a scale.
Shabaka’s minute-repeater strikes on cathedral gongs that go twice around the movement to give a deeper, more resonant chime. The minute-repeater slide occupies the left of the case, allowing the calendar setting controls to reside on the right. Only two chronographstyle pushers are needed to set the entire calendar, the pusher at 4 o’clock advances the date a day at a time, while that at 2 o’clock advances days only. A push-piece set coaxially in the crown advances the months and years, while the moon is set by a push-piece in the case-band at 5 o’clock.
A complex series of levers and rolls insinuate their way around the movement from the pushers to activate the respective calendar indications.
Radically original construction
The caliber is of a radically original construction, with the perpetualcalendar mechanism integrated into the 13-ligne repeating movement. The 7mm-diameter cylinders are embedded 2.5 millimetres into the level of the minute-repeater to reduce further the thickness of the movement. An anthracite-black finish on the circular-grained baseplate and on the bridges, exquisitely decorated in concentric Geneva stripes, contrasts with burnished steel, ruby and gold to highlight the beauty of the movement. And such beauty is too rare to hide solely for the eyes of the craftsmen who made it. To ensure that the fortunate owner savors every element of the achievement that is Shabaka, the movement and all of its dazzling complexity can be viewed through the case-back.
Emphasizing the stunning geometrical design of the dial, the mesmerizing cylindrical calendar displays are integrated into the Shabaka landscape. This superb piece of engineering exists on four levels composed of a high-tech frame delineating fields of blackened gold set with pyramids of assorted golds. The red hour-markers at 10, 12 and 2 o’clock serve to indicate the day, date and month respectively, against corresponding red triangles in the centre of the dial. Unmistakably and Art Deco-inspired design, with powerful Egyptian influences, the soul of this masterpiece lives in its exotic name – Shabaka, the 25th-dynasty Pharaoh and King of Egypt.
Shabaka has been imagined and realized by Thierry Oulevay and Christophe Claret, and is manufactured in the Christophe Claret workshops in Le Locle, Switzerland. Both are partners in World Première Watchmaking S.A., custodians of the JEAN DUNAND brand. The Shabaka watch, their third joint project, follows the Tourbillon Orbital and a Grand Complication wristwatch with 12 fully integrated complications.