#wtbasel Christophe Claret introduced an incredible new timepiece at Baselworld that contains what is probably the world’s first time display not mechanically connected to the movement.

Following the Baccarat family, the X-TREM-1 kicks off a brand-new line within Christophe Claret’s collection of playful complications. The complications, frivolous as they might be, are solid horology requiring years of research and development, not to mention the imagination needed to even imagine them.

 

Christophe Claret,X-Treme
Christophe Claret (left) shows Worldtempus editor-in-chief Louis Nardin the new X-TREM-1 © Elizabeth Doerr

While Christophe Claret is certainly a genius in his own right, he – like any other good watchmaking company – depends greatly on his staff of qualified watchmakers, engineers and technicians to create the unusual and complicated timepieces he is known for. The idea for the X-TREM-1’s display arose from external Neuchâtel-based watchmakers; though the original proposal as submitted would not have worked, teamwork and Claret’s keen mind developed it for two years until it functioned after Claret had acquired the rights and patents to it. “Every new piece we take on is always a risk,” Claret revealed. “I rely on my intuition where these matters are concerned.” The X-TREM-1 is most likely the first watch ever to be created that has no mechanical connection between its hands and its movement.

 

Christophe Claret,X-Treme
The movement is highly visible through the tinted sapphire crystal in front, though the focus remains on the flying tourbillon © Elizabeth Doerr

Magnetism

The first thing that will strike the observer about this watch is its shape, the next will be the display, and finally – when he or she has fully registered both of the former – the fact that both of these elements are dictated by precise magnetic fields running through this bold and crazy timepiece. Magnetism, as we know, is generally an arch enemy of the mechanical watch as it will influence the escapement in unwanted ways and wreak havoc with its accuracy.

The magnetism is needed to move the hands, which are really little hollow balls 4 mm in diameter running along a scale on either side of the main display within tubes of sapphire crystal. Most of the testing accomplished in the two-year development phase had to do with this, ensuring that the magnetism would not influence the movement. Christophe Claret worked with the School of Business and Engineering Vaud in Yverdon for twelve months to ensure the correct shape and orientation of the ferrite magnets. The escapement ensconced within a tourbillon is safely nestled inside a Faraday cage to protect it from the magnetic current.

 

Christophe Claret,X-Treme
Here we see the hour display and the end of the sapphire crystal tube that is home to the magnetic spherical hour “hand” © Elizabeth Doerr

Look ma, no hands!

The spherical “hands” traveling within sapphire tubes show the minutes and hours. They are controlled by the magnetic fields created by the magnets attached to extremely thin, very strong woven silk thread cables – the same kind that is often used in surgical processes. Claret’s team tested the thread in an accelerated-wear simulator for a period of time corresponding to six years and found it to be exactly what they required to make the magnetic X-TREM-1 function perfectly.

Claret inside and out

The movement is a Claret specialty. Though the case and hour/minutes display are slightly reminiscent of the Dual Tow, that is where the similarity stops. The base plate is crafted in titanium for lightness and shaped in a curvex style inclined at the end. “For ergonomics,” Claret explained. The flying tourbillon beating at 21,600 vph, perched on the 30-degree incline for extreme visibility, runs on double ceramic bearings for enhanced shock resistance.

The hand-wound caliber also contains another rare specialty: a kind of dual-wing movement that the watch world first got to know within Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Duomètre series. The twin spring barrels found within the caliber are not necessarily there to create an extreme amount of power reserve, which remains fairly normal here at 50 hours. No, each barrel is designed to provide energy to each of the movement’s “wings”: one for the gear train, beginning with the tourbillon, and one solely for the magnetic time indication.

 

Christophe Claret,X-Treme
The pull-out bows for winding and setting are highly visible on the back of the X-TREM-1 © Elizabeth Doerr

The size of this limited edition wristwatch makes it geared toward those with larger wrists: 40.8 x 56.8 x 15 mm. It is available in white gold and black PVD-coated titanium; rose gold and black PVD-coated titanium; and naturally colored platinum combined with black PVD-coated titanium. The winding and time setting is done by little bows that lift out from the back of the case.