An aesthetic evolution of one of the most spectacular creations of contemporary haute horlogerie in recent times, the Cu29 Creative Act II by the Alchemists watch manufactory is the second chapter in a trilogy of masterpieces, which offers an alternative perspective on its remarkable predecessor, with subtle modifications which have a substantive effect on its appearance.
A watch of dramatic aesthetics, breathtaking complexity and uncompromising hand finishing throughout, the Cu29 by The Alchemists was the debut masterpiece from this exciting young Swiss independent marque, and a piece with which it declared its intent on making its presence felt in the world of hand crafted independent haute horlogerie.
Formally established only in 2017 The Alchemists is appropriately named, as the company brings together the entrepreneurial nous of Fabrice Thüler, the mastery of watchmaking prodigy Hervé Schlüchter and the innate healing energies of Denis Vipret who together have created an independent watchmaking company quite unlike any other; even formulating their own proprietary metal alloy of copper and gold called Cuprum 479, which adds an entirely new healing dimension to wrist worn horology.
Recognised since ancient times for its unique, almost symbiotic healing qualities, copper is a metal rarely used in watchmaking, yet it is one whose tone and workability lends itself as an attractive medium, although too soft for many components in its natural form. The closely guarded secret formula, blending copper and gold to create The Alchemist’s Cuprum 479 alloy is harder and preserves forever that rich colour and provides the basis for case and caseback, crown, movement plate and bridges of this quite extraordinary timepiece.
Entirely conceived, designed and developed on-site, in a purpose-built, state of the art facility in the restored nineteenth century Villa Jolimont, which is set in the historic Jura Valley, the Cu29 Creative Act II is a truly remarkable watch in every way, boasting a spectacular three dimensional display of hand finished mechanical architecture underneath a pronounced dome of sapphire crystal.
Suspended beneath the sweeping overhang of the polished balance bridge, the mesmerising pulsations of the cylindrical hairspring, and oscillation of the balance wheel constitute the beating heart of a quite extraordinary mechanism. The work of Master Watchmaker Hervé Schlüchter the manual winding AC 003 movement is breathtaking in its beauty and complexity. With each of its 362 components individually finished and fitted by hand, to the uncompromising standards of traditional haute horlogerie, it is a technical masterpiece of skilled artisanal craftsmanship.
The time is displayed on a silver galvanic dial with a fine-grained circular brush finish and black lacquer arabic numerals and blued steel hour and minute hands. Below this, a domed three legged blue pointer indicates the seconds against a one-third section reference.
While essentially mechanically identical to the original Cu29, the reduced seconds display provides a previously concealed view of the seconds wheel and the two barrels, which feature a pair of gorgeous ‘moustache’ winding pawls on either side of the seconds dial. Black polished bridges provide anchorage for the crown functions selector at the three o’clock position and again for the power reserve indicator at the ten, exploring an alternative watchmaking discipline, and giving the Creative Act II its own distinctive personality to the knowing eye.
Beneath, the movement’s cupric base plate is painstakingly decorated with an even hammer beaten finish, which contrasts with the highly polished components and clearly defined anglage, while accentuating beautifully the immaculately machined wheels, teeth and the blued screw heads.