Like all good sleights of hand, the illusion is both perfect and intriguing. A movement floats in the middle of a watch case that is generously transparent so as to heighten the sense of mystery. Magic is generally about tricks, cables, professional deftness, whether in watchmaking or on stage. Conjurers capable of these incredible tricks devote their technical and sometimes historical expertise to making their mechanisms appear to levitate.
Magicians use secret panels, trap doors and diversions to muddle spectators’ senses. The watchmaker’s basic material in this domain is sapphire. Not the blue or pink gemstone used in jewelry, but rather a perfectly transparent man-made form of sapphire. Generally used to make scratch-resistant watch glasses, it has found its way into watches as a mainplate, as bridges – meaning a virtually invisible structure playing the same role as steel or brass. Blancpain used it to create the chassis of its L-Evolution Flying Sapphire Carrousel, but renounced total transparency by metallizing the watch glass in order to enhance legibility. While Corum went a step further with its Panoramic Tourbillon fitted with an invisible mainplate and bridges, they were still distinguish- able because they were juxtaposed. It was not until the historical specialist of this illusion reentered the scene that the magic truly worked its spell.
This providential Houdini is of course Cartier. In the 1920s, the brand had introduced the “mystery” clocks whose hands appeared to be floating in thin air. They were in fact perched on rock crystal rings guided by a mechanism hidden in the body of these clocks. Cartier revived this concept in 2013. Now adapted to the wristwatch format, the intensity of the illusion has been heightened ever since. The latest model is called Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux. Its entire movement appears to be placed between two layers of air, at the very heart of the watch. Even those in the know still scratch their heads and wonder how it really works.
A fakir’s favorite piece of equipment is a wire, a principle that inspired Richard Mille. While the main purpose of the RM 27-01 was to achieve extreme lightness and shock-resistance, it has also explored a whole new avenue. Its movement is secured to the case by a set of cables (just 0.35mm in diameter), pulleys and tensioners. Merely hiding them would have been enough to make the caliber seem to float.
There is another method that is apparently simple, yet difficult to implement : it involves giving pride of place to emptiness and calls for movements with distinctive structures. The baguette- type caliber of Corum’s Golden Bridge models is so narrow that it can be held to either end of the case, within which it looks amazingly free. The alternative is an ultra-skeletonized movement, such as that of the Tourbillon Volant Poinçon de Genève by Louis Vuitton. The structure of the caliber is slender and concealed beneath a dial and a tourbillon. The floating effect is achieved by clever means that are traditional yet mesmerizing.
First, we have two versions of this Corum Admiral Legend 42 Automobile. Right off the bat, you’ll notice the legendary twelve-sided bezels on these stainless steel bits that step in at 42mm. You have your choice of a deep white or blue dial, along with the sapphire crystal it’s double anti-reflective-treated. Having an total water resistance rating of 50m for your circumstance, we would have expected for a bit more out of a watch geared toward people who prefer to be about water.The dial is graced with a colorful variety of nautical flags that bring a nice flare to the dining table and mix nicely into the theme of the eye – and also at 3 o’clock, an abysmal date window hidden is at one of those flags. The Rhodium-coated dauphine hands are skeletonized and handled with Super-LumiNova as a tiny minutes is at work above 6 o’clock. The rear of the case receives a sapphire crystal to show off the motion here too. The Corum Admiral Legend 42 Automobile watches are powered by the CO 395 that supplies a 42-hour power book. The CO 395 is truly a base ETA 2895, also Corum has engraved the rotor on this occasion.The Corum Admiral Legend 42 Chronographs maintain the 42mm sizing, but include one stainless steel version whilst introducing another similar variant equipped with an 18k red gold bezel, crown, and pushers for extra class. The stainless steel version offers a rich blue dial while the red gold is paired with a simple black backdrop with each showcasing time, date, along with chronograph counters. The date window for these versions isn’t integrated into the dial as well as the three-hand versions so that you can’t overlook it nestled in between 4 and 5 o’clock. The chronographs shed the water resistance evaluation to 30m and maintain a sapphire crystal case back. The movement shown off is that the CO 984 that beats 4Hz (28,000vph) using a power reserve of 42 hours.