Most of the world is happy to accept the Gregorian calendar and the need for leap years—but the Bovet Récital 20 Astérium is having none of that. Since the Earth actually spins around the Sun once every 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 9.77 seconds (or 365.25 days) the calendar needs to catch up to the sky every four years, hence the leap year. A watch will require manual or mechanical adjustment to account for the extra day. In the case of an annual calendar, you reset the watch each February. A perpetual calendar will adjust for February’s shifting length through mechanical gymnastics every four years. But the Bovet Récital 20 Astérium dispenses with the pretense and simply counts time as it is—setting its annual calendar by the stars, not Pope Gregory XIII. The result is both simple and complex.
Bovet describes the Récital 20 Astérium as “functional, precise and intuitive all at once.” None of that is true. Of the 60 examples of this $350,000 watch that will be produced exactly zero will be used for functional purposes; like most mechanical watches precision isn’t what this is about; and there is nothing intuitive about reading the 12 complications on this watch. “Clever” is a better word to describe the way multiple functions are slipped into 46mm of 18K gold or platinum case.
The best way to understand this beast is to flip it over and start with the single annual calendar hand that rotates once every 365.25 days, indicating the dates, months, signs of the zodiac, seasons, solstices, and equinoxes. And that’s just on the back.
Flip it over and the genius of that peculiar 365.25 day annual calendar really shines. Because it is synced with the stars, the calendar never needs to be corrected and it drives the star map on the translucent blue quartz disc with precision. The hand on top of the blue disc is a 24-hour hand, but it also points north relative to the star map so you can align your watch with the stars (that’s the functional part). Minutes are on the retrograde 3:00 dial (shared with the 10-hr power reserve indicator). Seconds are at 6:00, on a patented double face flying tourbillon (naturally).
The 9:00 dial again looks to the stars with a moonphase indicator surrounded by a sidereal time indicator revealing another fudging in our terrestrial concept of time. The duration of the true solar day varies throughout the year. The Earth takes exactly 23 hours and 56 minutes to rotate 360° on its axis, but the sun’s position varies because Earth’s orbit is elliptical. Some days the solar zenith comes later, some earlier. The sidereal gauge keeps track. Why?
Why is the wrong question to ask for a watch like this. “Why not?” is what you’re really after. For most people the answer is: The purchase price is more than my mortgage. For Bovet, the answer was: Because we can; not many can say that, and that’s the whole point. bovet.com
Bovet Récital 20 Astérium
- Price: $350,000 (plus customization)
- Who’s it for? A perfect 365-day year always seemed suspicious to you.
- Would I wear it? If I’m invited to a fundraiser for a planetarium.
- What I’d change? The dial might be more striking if more of the mechanicals were hidden.
- Standout feature? 365.25-day annual calendar.
Tech Specs from Bovet
- Case Material: 18K red or white gold or platinum
- Case Dimensions: 46mm x 18.3mm
- Movement: Caliber 17DM02-SKY; hand-wound w/ 10-day power reserve at 18,000 vph; includes hours, retrograde minutes, seconds on tourbillon, annual calendar, night sky, equation of time, precision moon phase indicator, season, solstice and equinox indicator, astrological zodiac indicator, and power reserve indicator
- Crystal: Domed sapphire front, flat sapphire case back
- Strap: Full skin alligator w/ 18K red or white gold ardillon buckle