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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Geo.Graham Tourbillon Orrery: A Watch Built For the Cosmos and for the Centuries

The watch displays the rotations of the Earth, Moon, and Mars with exceptional accuracy.

Nearly all the talk among the nine tradeshows at “Las Vegas Jewelry Week” involved jewelry, which, of course, is natural. However, watch brands of all types and stripes were in the mix in “Sin City.”

The most prominent watch gathering in Vegas is JCK Swiss Watch, which accommodates the discretion of the luxury watch industry by holding the event in private suites in the Mandalay Bay Resort complex. Entrance to the brands is by appointment only. The Couture Show at the Wynn Las Vegas also provides private space for a smaller group of watch brands. In addition, there are two shows in Vegas that deal in the collectibles market for watches: International Watch and Jewelry Guild Show at the Tropicana Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show at Paris Las Vegas.

Many of the new releases in Vegas were actually unveiled at Baselworld in April, which I covered extensively. What’s left is an exceptional timepiece I did not see at Baselworld because it was shown offsite.

It’s more than a timepiece. It is also an orrey, a device that shows the relative positions and motions of bodies in the solar system by balls moved by clockwork. There’s currently only one available and it was on the wrist of Eric Loth, CEO of the watch brand, Graham, who was in a suite at the Wynn Las Vegas, separate from the tradeshows on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Geo.Graham Tourbillon Orrery shows the orbital patterns of the Earth, Moon and Mars rotating around the Sun, represented by 18k fiery pink gold lattice design. Beneath the sun, slightly visible, is the tourbillion. The moon, represented by a steel rhodium ball, rotates around the earth as the earth, represented as a clear blue sapphire ball, rotates around the “sun.” Mars, represented by a round red ruby, circles the sun on the outer edge of the dial.

Graham is a maker of automatic watches, the mechanical movement that powers this timepiece was made exclusively for Graham by independent watchmaker, Christophe Claret. Its accuracy is uncanny. Loth explained that the earth revolves at exactly 365 ¼ days so there is no adjustment for the leap year. Corrections to the orbital patterns are minimal and are planned and indicated on the back of the watch. For the moon it’s every seven years, for Mars it’s every 25 years and for the earth (wait for it) every 1,152 years. The moon and mars have self correcting indicators. Loth said the orrery should be functional for 300 years before needing to be taken to a watchmaker for a minor adjustment to the perpetual calendar.

The dial also contains the months on an outer disc track with the inner track indicating the 12 astrological signs.

There’s an historical aspect to this timepiece. It honors the 300th anniversary of the invention of the orrery by British clock and watchmaker George Graham, the company’s namesake.

When the timepiece goes into production, it will be limited to 20 pieces at a cost of $330,000.

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