30 minutes on the wrist - The Christophe Claret Allegro
It is always a pleasure to start your day off by composing a post about Christophe Claret, while sitting in a quiet cafè in downtown Milan. Every time that the brand has unveiled a new timepiece, you never know what new technological feature the maker has come up with but, at least, you can be sure that it will be a good one. Christoph Claret is an independent “haute horologerie” brand headed by a brilliant mind and, compared to other classic industrial brands, its “surprise effect” is always guaranteed.
After coming up with out-of-the-ordinary-timepieces in terms of pure engineering and of an extremely original approach to the world of watchmaking, Christophe Claret, like a modern Leonardo Da Vinci, has been constantly drawing people's attention to his vision of classic “haute horologerie” by mingling different concepts, techniques and materials with extremely innovative creations (this phenomenon started some years ago when the artist launched his Traditional collection.)
The Christophe Claret Allegro watch (the name clearly reminds us of Christophe's passion for Italian lyrics) is perhaps today's best example of how the maker managed to catch even the attention of those enthusiasts who are usually familiar with the brand's creations but find them to be too extreme, both aesthetically and conceptually speaking. It might sound as if I am unintentionally trying to diminish the value of this new collection even before writing something about it and maybe it's because I am simply too used to exclusive timepieces such as the Poker (please read here for more info), the Margot (please see here for the post) or the Aventicum (please find the article here) and when it comes to talking about a minute repeater with a GMT complication, I always find it is like opening Pandora's box, where the name of at least 50 different brands is contained.
The Christophe Claret Allegro is an exceptional timepiece too, but its excellence is probably just less “visible” than that of similar watches. Its smoked sapphire crystal, for example, has a precise function: making the mechanics visible, namely the two big discs used for the big date viewing that you can activate by pushing the button at 2, and the two Charles X skeletonized bridges, which are a tribute to classic watchmaking. At 6 the glass is fully cut on a precise section of the movement: the minute repeater complication, which features a cathedral gong. The quality of the pitch is where the most renowned master watchmakers have been challenging each other since the minute repeater complication was first introduced and, Christophe, has patented a device, which reduces the hammers' vibrations thus ensuring a purer tone. On this note a comparison between this timepiece and similar ones should be made but, taking into account both the designer's passion for music and his attention to details, it is probably unnecessary.
On paper, the mechanical movement is a 3Hz hand-wound caliber but this single figure is meaningless unless you take into consideration all the other tech features too: this watch sports a single mainspring barrell and a balance wheel with countersunk screws that ensure a nearly perfect inertia/weight ratio, a better aerodynamic shape and an easier regulation. At 3, the movement boasts a GMT function too, which can be activated by pushing a button placed at 4. At first sight, the Allegro looks like a two counter chrono and that was probably the designer's aim. This is the proof that confirms my first impression: the Christophe Claret Allegro lingers between that subtle line separating classic watchmaking and manufacturing (needless to say, all the components of this timepiece are made in-house.)
Last but not least, the case: it is the unmistakable two-metal case (red or white gold and 45mm PVD treated titanium) with stretched and curved lugs and a caliber that is aligned with the case and the sapphire glass on the back to give the case a mono-lythic effect. Thumbs up for the choice of the screws used to secure the case and the back-case, they are very particular and make this minute repeater stand out against its classic competitors. Same thing with the brand's logo, which basically features everywhere on the case: at 12 on the dial, on the golden indexes, as well as on the winding crown and on the minute repeater slider. The retail price of each of the 20 Christophe Claret Allegro timepieces is 268,000 Swiss Francs.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Christophe Claret, Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter