Sunday, February 8, 2015

Petals Extraordinaire: Richard Mille's 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur

I think I’m becoming a floral tourbillon aficionado.  Last year in an April post, I showcased Chanel's Camellia Tourbillon  following Baselworld 2014.  Now along comes and goes SIHH — The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (January 19-25, 2015) in Geneva and I’m again enraptured by floral tourbillon beauty and extraordinary mechanical execution.
Sixteen “Maisons” exhibited this year celebrating SIHH’s 25th Anniversary. Among them was Richard Mille. 

Richard Mille SA, based in Les Breuleux, in the Jura Canton of Switzerland does not carry the “Depuis 1775” credentials of a Breguet.  It is a relative newcomer to the luxury watch industry, established by French businessman Richard Mille, in 1999. The brand is known for its complicated, high-tech engineering. Yes, it’s younger than SIHH by 16 years, but it’s a major player beyond its years. 

Richard Mille’s 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur is an amazing 21st Century technical achievement as well as paying homage to nature in motion on its dial face.  It reflects a new, integrated approach to complications combining artistry and craftsmanship for women.  As Rebecca Doulton said in her report on the watch for The Jewellery Editor, “Richard Mille watches takes the prize for having created the first flying tourbillon combined with a flower automaton in this century.”

Richard Mille’s 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur, Petals closed

So just what does the flower automaton do?  It incorporates a magnolia blossom with five pink-colored gold petals protecting a manual-winding flying tourbillon movement (a spinning balance wheel which twirls and whirls in 60 second rotations).  Every five minutes, the flower opens and closes its petals. The wearer can also open and close the petals on a whim by using a pusher located at 9 o’clock. 

But, the action doesn’t stop there.  What I love about this automaton is that not only does it perform a petal fluttering action, but also it reflects the act of pollination by having the entire flying tourbillon with its a ruby-set stamen move upward in the act of reaching for its prospective pollinator. And in doing so, the one-minute flying tourbillon rises as well by a few millimeters exposing its engineered components. What a sophisticated, modern-day, eco-automata tribute.  

Richard Mille’s 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur, Petals open

And who said in a gender-reverse moment that diamonds are not a stamen’s best friend? They are set on the bezel, flange, and hour dial appearing between 12 and 2 o’clock.

Richard Mille is seeding his garden with only 30 of these. J. G. Ballard’s Count Axel would definitely want one to grace his estate and give to his wife.

I hope that in the tradition of the French and Swiss  clock and watchmakers of the mid-18th Century to early 19th Century who created exquisite automata, Richard Mille gives us many more delightfully, clever pieces.    

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