The Deep Space Tourbillon from Vianney Halter is one of the most incredible, outlandish and desirable pieces of wrist-borne horology to have been created in the current era of contemporary independent watchmaking. There truly is nothing else quite like it, which is little wonder, as it is the product of the science-fiction loving French master’s imagination, as well as showcasing some quite profound watchmaking talent.
A lifelong ‘Trekkie’ Vianney Halter indulged himself in his quest to design and create a piece which combined his fascination with retro-futuristic visions of space-dwelling civilisations with an extraordinary natural talent for taking an idea from the mind and converting it to breathtaking reality. With its enormous domed crystal and the hypnotic pulsation of its mechanical heart the Deep Space Tourbillon is a spectacular triumph on both counts.
Seeing and handling the watch for the first time, the impression is of a piece of gloriously exaggerated proportions, and a profile which immediately calls to mind the Deep Space 9 Station from the Star Trek movie series. Measuring an impressive 46mm, the titanium case is still refined despite its size, and is superbly detailed with little Halter signatures such as the nubbed crown and recessed lug bolts.
Beneath that massive crystal any traces of a conventional display are replaced with an animated and alien mechanical landscape. In fact it does take a moment for the eye to translate the incredible array into a rational comprehension of what is going on inside. It is dominated by the triple axis tourbillon mechanism at its centre, which circulates every forty seconds, rotates every six minutes and gyrates simultaneously through each thirty minute cycle. Originally conceived to counter the gravitational effects on a fine old pocketwatch, Halter’s stunning interpretation of the tourbillon in the Deep Space is as much art as it is functional. It is mesmerising to watch, and I know from experience that you could stare at it for hours.
The time too is displayed in a most unusual format as well, and while there are an hour hand and a minutes hand, they emanate from the outer dial, as opposed to being centrally positioned. Almost like strange crane booms in heat-blued steel, they arc up and towards the centre of the dial on separate outer gear rings; the minutes overlapping the hours when they pass each other each hour.
With most of its internals already exposed from the front, the caseback is a titanium cover with the Deep Space motif engraved. Inside the in house VH 113 manual winding movement has a power reserve of 55 hours.
The lugs are integrated within the case and the holding screws allow for a surprisingly comfortable fit, and even on a thinner wrist it doesn’t look out of place.
The Deep Space Tourbillon might be a fascinating novelty, but it’s exemplary hand worked watchmaking at its most expressive and has become an icon for the independent sector.