America was always a significant part of the Harry Winston brand’s soul and its new owners took to creating a product that honors both the brand and the country.
The Opus 14, the first Opus timepiece launched by Harry Winston under Swatch Group ownership, takes its inspiration from a nostalgic 1950s view of America, most specifically the jukebox, which brought American rock ‘n’ roll to public venues all over the world.
The main feature of the Opus 14 is an automaton complication that works like the turntable of a jukebox. It reveals four disks housed in what Harry Winston calls a “store.” Each disk shows a specific display: local time, GMT time, the date and a star bearing the signature of Mr. Harry Winston, a reference to the stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Harry Winston and the Swatch Group turned to Swiss watchmakers Franck Orny and Johnny Girardin of Telos Watch, to devise and build the timepiece. At a press conference Wednesday, Nayla Hayek, Harry Winston CEO, and Marc Hayek, Blancpain director, said the concept of the watch was already in place when Swatch Group aquired Harry Winston about three years ago but they immediately fell for the idea.
“The first time we saw this project we fell in love with it,” said Nayla Hayek. “It’s Hollywood. It’s America. It’s Harry Winston.”
Added Marc Hayek, “We really wanted to make it happen. Seeing the idea and bringing it to life is fantastic.”
It was a three-and-a-half year project with done primarily within the Harry Winston watchmaking facilities in Plan-Les-Ouates, Switzerland—with the exception of testing the watch’s accuracy and endurance, which were done at the testing facilities of Blancpain, also owned by the Swatch Group.
The time in hours is already shown on the top disk (the minutes are shown on a separate retrograde display). When pressed for the first time, a push-piece activates a moving arm that picks the disk up and sets it onto the platform to be read like a turntable. While the disk displaying the local time remains in place at 9 o'clock, the chosen GMT, date or star disk is positioned on this platform. Pressing the push-piece a second time once the disk is in place reactivates the arm, which moves the disk back into the store. The first activation takes five seconds and returning the disk to the original position takes three seconds.
The power reserve for the patented HW4601 caliber uses two separate barrels, one for the automaton mechanism and the other for the clock operation. It provides 68 hours for the clock operation and enough power for five back-and-forth disk movements. Although the power reserves are separate and function independently, they are driven by a shared winding crown. A second winding crown is used to set the time. In addition, push-pieces on the lugs at 12 o'clock allow the wearer to correct the date and GMT.
The multi-layered movement and display resulted in a very large watch, even by Opus standards. It’s housed in a case measuring 57.4mm by 21.9mm.
Design details of the black watch include a red, white and blue color palette and a two-tone insignia bearing the number 14 in a style reminiscent of the Route 66 road sign. These elements and others are designed to recall the rock 'n roll era and the emblematic diner aesthetic, the company said.
The timepiece, with a total of 1,066 components, retails for 428,000 Swiss francs ($434,600) and is limited to 50 pieces.
The event unveiling the Opus 14 was originally planned for Los Angeles but there are several watch-related events in Switzerland at the same time so they instead opted for the tourist destination of Baden-Baden, a small city in the Germany’s Black Forest renowned for its natural springs and spas. Despite this, Harry Winston took great pains to create the illusion of 1950s Americana in Baden-Baden, with a bevy of 1950s American cars, a staging area set up as a 1950s diner, women servers on roller skates and 1950s rock ‘n’ roll playing throughout the evening.
The scene certainly played into the nostalgic American theme of the watch.
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