At a time in which many fine watch brands seem to be concentrating on revisitations of historic models, Harry Winston's Opus series provides a refreshing burst of complication every year. 2012, with Opus 12, is no exception. At first sight, it looks like a classic round watch, apparently simpler than the wonderfully idiosyncratic Opus 11, but a closer look reveals some remarkable mechanical magic.
Opus 11 was hard to beat, with the display that seemed to explode at every change of hour. this deconstruction of time was a tough act to follow. Opus 12, made in cooperation with Emmanuel Bouchet from Centagora, offers a performance at every change of minutes and hours. The time is displayed using 26 hands, while the 27th shows the power reserve (the manually-wound movement has a 45-hour power reserve). At the centre of the watch there is a 360° small seconds hand. Also at the centre, there is a retrograde minute hand which advances and returns through a 135° sector every five minutes.
There is a pair of peripherally-controlled hands for each of the twelve hour indexes, and the main minutes and hour hand have two faces, one blued and one steel. Every five minutes, the minutes hand twists around to reveal its blue side, and the previous minutes hand twists back to its steel side. All this means that you can tell the time to the nearest five minutes from this display, while the retrograde minutes indicator at the centre gives you minute accuracy. There is an added performance at each change of hour: all the hour indicators rotate in succession, a complication that adds nothing in terms of precision. It's all about creating visual interest, expressing the flow of time.
The watch is powered by two independent barrels, one regulating the time, and the other powering the display mechanism. The movement is very complex, with over 600 parts. The Opus 12 is made in 18-carat white gold, with Harry Winston's Zalium - zirconium alloy - used for the centre section. The watch is available in a limited edition of 120 pieces, priced at about $260,000.
Watch the official video for the Harry Winston Opus 12 below: