Watchuseek Blog

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Clear as a bell: Christoph Claret Soprano

 Click on images for larger pictures

Christophe Claret has just released its latest remarkable timepiece – the Soprano tourbillion minute repeater.

The watch features a Christoph Claret speciality, -  a minute repeater and four cathedral gongs that are musically accurate and play the same chimes as Big Ben. It also features the brand's Charles X-style bridges.

Three-part case


The case of the Soprano is in three parts: upper and lower (bezel and caseback) sections in gold and a central titanium caseband. Titanium was selected for its superior sound transmission qualities. Where gold tends to deaden sound, titanium effectively transmits sound from the interior of the case to the exterior. The sound qualities of titanium are so good that the metal is often used for saddle bridges in high-quality guitars.

No dial


In order to to minimise barriers to sound − and to maximise visual appreciation of the finely finished movement and the operation of the striking mechanism − the Soprano has no dial which allows the melody out and showcases the tourbillon,  repeater operation, mainspring barrel, winding mechanism and Charles X bridges.

The Soprano pays homage to the roots of Christophe Claret’s manufacture through its combination of innovation and tradition. The brand says the watch is a “a timepiece of contrasts”, combining traditional haute horlogerie with state-of-the-art manufacturing and the history of the English Parliament with a French King.

Westminster Cathedral gongs

The watch features the Westminster Quarters four-gong minute repeater. To provide an even fuller and richer sound than standard repeaters, the Soprano features four cathedral gongs, each circling the perimeter of the movement twice (a normal gong goes around only once).

Claret worked with a piano tuner to arrive at a computer program called Analyser 2000. This records and analyses the notes for pitch, duration and volume. Even the length of the silent pauses between notes has been considered. This enables the Soprano to consistently create harmonious and musically accurate melodies with strong crystal clear notes.

Each cathedral gong circles the movement twice so that one coil lies just above the other. When coils are so close together, they can touch other and create a disconcerting buzz. Christophe Claret invented a system that effectively avoids this problem, which was awarded a patent.

Tourbillon escapement

Chosen for its kinetic beauty and its superior chronometric performance Claret employs the tourbillon as standard escapement for all of his  manufacture movements.

Crystal glass caseback

The timepiece has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass and display caseback. The 60-second tourbillon carriage of the Soprano is on full view through the open dial at 6 o' clock. There is also a transparent mainspring barrel below 12 o’clock that allows both the barrel to be seen turning while being wound and the approximate power reserve can be calculated by the state-of-wind of the visible mainspring.

Limited to eight pieces per version

The Soprano has been limited to eight pieces in each of its case versions – rose gold and white gold. The case measures 56mm, it has 450 parts and a power reserve of 72 hours. It has a black hand-sewn alligator leather with black stitching for the red gold version and red or blue stitching for the white gold case model.

The timepiece will retail $499,200 for the rose gold version and $507,200 for the white gold versions.

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