A collection which has showcased the work of some of the world’s most respected names in independent watchmaking, the Harry Winston Opus series of bespoke commissioned limited edition watches is a mirror for the profound talents of the finest and most innovative watchmakers of our time. The brainchild of then head of watchmaking at the famous Fifth Avenue diamond house, Max Büsser’s passion for, and belief in the independent sector created the unique opportunity for these exceptional collaborations to be born.
For Opus 3, Büsser extended an invitation to a young Frenchman who, only a few years previously had astounded the world of independent Haute Horlogerie with his extraordinary Nemo-esque perpetual calendar, the Antiqua. Max was besotted with this alien yet beautiful form of watchmaking, and Vianney Halter accepted.
Even among the often astonishing conceptual horology to be discovered in the world of independent watchmaking, Vianney Halter stands out on his own. Unconventional, uncompromising and unconcerned with the accepted codes of watch design, this eccentric master of his art creates pieces which intrigue, fascinate and stir the emotions with their inimitable aesthetics and irresistible charisma.
For the watchmaker the challenges of the calling from Harry Winston were irresistible, and so, taking the idea of the Jules Verne inspired portholes of his incredible Antiqua, he set about reimagining the time display once again, in his own inimitable style, this time using jumping discs with big colourful numerals in a fascinating time machine which is, in equal part, luxurious opulence, art deco and refined steampunk.
Some watches are famous, but few are legend, and with drama not only in its breathtaking aesthetics and seemingly impossible mechanical complexity, but in the tale of its very gestation too, the Harry Winston Opus 3 by Vianney Halter is both. A triumph of uncompromising dedication in the pursuit of concept to reality, what began as a projected three year process from design to completion, grew to become a ten year conundrum of engineering and determination until a masterpiece was finally signed off, and ready to ship to its long waiting owners, many years after it was first revealed as a showcase prototype.
An outstanding piece by any standards, Opus 3 is a square with rounded angles, and a gently curving surface of contrasting brushed and polished rose gold from which six round windows rise, and through which the time and date are displayed numerically. The hours are defined in black numbers in the top left and right windows, the minutes in blue below, and the date in red in the middle. As each minute approaches its end, a four second countdown appears top right, before the discs jump as a new minute, hour or even date begins.
Inside, and visible through the sapphire caseback, the exclusive hand winding movement is a work of mechanical art. Such is the complexity of the mechanism there are two gear trains, and with so many moving components demanding of energy, two barrels provide power for forty hours. Setting the time and date is done through the horizontal crown, which is set into the side of the case and moves between four positions, for the hours, minutes and date adjustments, and resting in the winding position.
A piece of contemporary independent watchmaking history, the Harry Winston Opus 3 by Vianney Halter is a watch of significant historic importance, and an absolute essential for the most discerning connoisseur and collector of independent Haute Horlogerie.