The indie complications specialist has unveiled a watch fitted with a “memory” function, as well as several other unusual features
by Chris Hall
This is the Maestro*, the latest watch from Christophe Claret. It slots into the brand’s “traditional” collection, alongside other musically-named pieces such as the Allegro, Soprano and Maestoso, and it is packed with Claret’s typical combination of expert finishing, modern design and whimsical complications.
*yes, there is a range of watches called Maestro by Raymond Weil. No, you are not likely to get the two confused.
It’s a 42mm watch with a very large domed sapphire crystal – all the better to showcase the deep, 3D construction of what’s on display. Like previous Christophe Claret models (and like. say, Angelus, MB&F or Greubel Forsey) it is essentially dial-free, exposing the bridges which support the hands, balance wheel, barrels and other complications. These are traditional stepped bridges (something Christophe Claret calls “Charles X” bridges), finished with a matt graining or frosting. Above them float some pretty cool two-tone hands, and contrast is provided by the polished countersunk screws and the polished adjustment bridge for the 3Hz balance wheel.
At 12 o’clock we have two mainspring barrels, stacked one atop the other, with a wide-spoked skeletonisation over the top that, according to the brand, permits the user to see how much power is remaining by glancing at the blade spring of the first barrel. That is undoubtedly possible, but how legible that is compared with a power reserve display is something we’ll have to wait and see. At seven o’clock we have the in-house balance wheel, topped with a gemstone that the brand emphasises is always a natural ruby or sapphire – no synthetic gems here. The same goes for the precious stones on the two cone-shaped registers at four and five o’clock, which house the watch’s most interesting points.
The larger cone is a two-digit date display, lining up to be read through the large calipers which protrude up from that bridge at six o’clock. It’s certainly one of the more prominent date displays we’ve ever seen. If you’re interested in how the date window came to be so ubiquitous on our watches, read Alex Doak’s brief history of the complication here.
To its right, almost overshadowed by the great peak of the date cone, is a smaller cone inset with three gems. The central ruby is purely decorative, but the diamond and ruby on opposite sides of the cone are there to provide a whimsical function. This cone is called the “MEMO” complication (as you can see etched on the side) and its purpose is to serve as an aide memoire for, well, whatever you need to remember. Christophe Claret likens it to the traditional “tie a knot in your handkerchief” method, i.e. it’s there to remind you that there’s something you should do, not to tell you what that thing is (which would really take us into smartwatch territory).
This is controlled by the pusher at two o’clock (sorry to disappoint all of you who were expecting this to somehow be a chronograph; the pusher at four o’clock advances the date); one press on the upper pusher activates the MEMO, and another push deactivates it when you’ve crossed whatever you were remembering off your list. When it’s active, the cone rotates through 180 degrees to display the diamond rather than the ruby (or sapphire, in the titanium version).
The back of the watch is open, to reveal a manual movement with a seven-day power reserve and modern PVD matt anthracite finishing. You can also see a little of the mechanism behind those pushers, leading to the MEMO cone. The caseback will also inform you that it is a limited edition of 88 pieces. You can take the Maestro away (sorry) in pink gold or titanium; in titanium it costs CHF 68,000 and it’s CHF76,000 in gold.