Christophe Claret has unveiled its latest timepiece – the Soprano tourbillion minute repeater.
The white- or rose-gold cased watch has a minute repeater and four cathedral gongs that are musically accurate and play out the same chimes as Big Ben. It also features the brand’s Charles X-style 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.
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). The central case band is in Grade 5 titanium, a metal known for its acoustic properties and used in musical instruments.
Working with a piano tuner, Claret developed a computer program called Analyser 2000 that records and analyses the notes for pitch, duration and loudness, and even the length of the silent pauses between notes. This enables the Christophe Claret manufacture to consistently create harmonious and musically accurate melodies with strong crystalline notes.
Each cathedral gong circles the movement twice so that one coil lies just above the other. Because the coils are so close together, they can touch each other as they vibrate, which can create a disconcerting buzz. Christophe Claret invented a system that effectively avoids this problem, which was awarded a patent.
To minimize barriers to sound − and to maximize visual appreciation of the finely finished movement and the operation of the striking mechanism − the Soprano has no dial which allows the beautiful melody out and showcases the tourbillon, repeater operation, mainspring barrel, winding mechanism and Charles X bridges.
The case of the Soprano has been crafted in three parts: upper and lower (bezel and caseback) sections in gold and a central titanium caseband, while the 60-second tourbillon carriage of the Soprano is on full view through the open dial at six o’clock, and is supported by a single arm stepped bridge in the Charles X style.
The timepiece has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass and display caseback, as well as the more discreet smoked sapphire hour and minute ring around the open movement. But 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 to be deduced by the state-of-wind of the visible mainspring.
The Soprano has been limited to eight pieces in each of its case versions – rose gold and white gold. Its 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 has an RRP of CHF468,000 (£312,000) for the rose gold version and CHF476,000 (£317,000) for the white gold versions.