A true timepiece for collectors, if ever there was one
Featuring a dial-side combination of gilded mainplate and palladium-treated bridges framed by a white gold case, the Insight Micro-Rotor white gold limited editions see Romain Gauthier present his acclaimed time-only movement in perhaps its most collector-oriented guise to date.
Powering the hour-minute and small-second indications is a finely-finished, in-house automatic calibre that has been built from the ground up and which boasts a bidirectional micro-rotor made from 22k gold.
Visible dial side and through the display back, this oscillating weight turns smoothly between two bridges, each fitted with a friction-minimising, wear-resistant ruby bearing. In whichever direction the micro-rotor swings, it winds a serially operating double mainspring barrel offering 80 hours of power at full wind.
Sweeping around the centre of the dial are the small seconds surrounded by the hour-minute subdial at 12 o’clock, beating balance at 6 o’clock and, at 9 o’clock, the swaying micro-rotor, framed within a circular cut-out in the mainplate. The mainplate has been hand-frosted then treated with 4.5N rose gold, and it is this golden tone and matte finishing that make the straight-grained, palladium-treated bridges visually pop.
The observer is treated to more views of the movement through the display back. Here, the micro-rotor continues to steal the show as it sets the visible train of gears in motion, starting with the reversing gear that gives the mechanism its bidirectionality.
Like the mainplate, the bridges on the back of the movement are 4.5N rose gold-treated and decorated with hand-frosting and hand-made, hand-polished bevels and jewel countersinks. These bridges are fixed in place using in-house screws that bear an aesthetic S-slot.
The gilded hue and frosted finish of the bridges contrast neatly with the rhodium-treated elements next to them: straight-grained, linear plaquettes; circular-grained gears and ratchets featuring bevelled, circular spokes; and the mainspring barrels of which the lids have been decorated with snailing.
Meanwhile, the case’s 39.5mm diameter makes for a very wearable timepiece. Other design details of the case include a lip in the caseband that flares out to join with the bezel; the crown positioned at 2 o’clock to free up space for wrist movement; and the bombé sapphire crystal which rises so that its highest point is over the hour-minute display, the de facto centre of the dial.
“The gleam of the white gold case, the matte finish and gilded tones of the movement…. For me, this historical combination of colours and finishes is the one that most evokes a collector’s watch,” says Gauthier.
Insight Micro-Rotor white gold is available in three 10-piece limited editions: with oven-fired white enamel dial, oven-fired black enamel dial and oven-fired blue enamel dial.
Romain Gauthier will present these Insight Micro-Rotor white gold limited editions for the first time publicly at WatchTime Los Angeles watch fair May 3-4, 2019 at the Hudson Loft space in downtown LA.
INSIGHT MICRO-ROTOR IN DETAIL
Highly visible, in-house movement
Developed, produced, decorated, assembled and regulated at Manufacture Romain Gauthier in the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland, Insight Micro-Rotor’s movement has been designed to be highly visible so the observer can acquire an immediate appreciation of the mesmerising mechanics and immaculate hand-finishing, hence the moniker “Insight”.
The bidirectionality of the micro-rotor is accomplished via a reversing gear. The axis of this gear glides side to side, guided by an aperture cut within two arc-shaped steel plates that have been black-polished to enhance the gear’s rotation and lateral movement. When the micro-rotor changes direction, it drives the toothing of the reversing gear in the opposite direction, making the reversing gear slide this way too.
Given the relative weight of the micro-rotor, Romain Gauthier has chosen to sandwich it between two bridges for superior stability, rather than designing a ‘flying’ rotor supported by just one bridge from beneath. Both ends of the micro-rotor axis turn in a ruby-lined pivot hole. The rubies have a high wear resistance and low coefficient of friction helping to create an inaudible, fluid rotation of the micro-rotor compared to, say, metal ball-bearings, which can entail wear and noise.
Power and precision
The two mainspring barrels offer 80 hours of energy when fully wound. The barrels are in series for more constant power to the regulator that features the Romain Gauthier balance wheel featuring curved arms and calibrated eccentric weights, as well as a hand-assembled pallet lever that is triangular for more rigidity.
Last but not least, the superlative movement decoration includes hand-made and hand-polished bevels, hand-frosting, circular-graining, straight-graining and snailing, in addition to hand-made and hand-polished jewel countersinks.
18k white gold case with 4.5N rose gold, palladium and rhodium treated movement
3 x 10-piece limited editions:
10 pieces with oven-fired white enamel dial on 18k gold base, complemented by flame-blued steel hands
10 pieces with oven-fired black enamel dial on 18k gold base, complemented by 18k white gold hands
10 pieces with oven-fired blue enamel dial on 18k gold base, complemented by 18k white gold hands
Photographs: Romain Gauthier
Features and indications
Off-centre hours, minutes and small seconds
In-house, automatic movement featuring 22k gold bidirectional micro-rotor
Double mainspring barrel in series for generous 80-hour power reserve
Dial and hands
Oven-fired enamel dial on 18k gold dial base, with 18k gold or flame-blued steel hands
Movement and finishing
Dimensions: 32.1mm x 6.8mm
Power reserve: 80 hours
Number of jewels: 33
Number of components: 206
Balance frequency: 28,800 vph / 4Hz
Components in: 22k gold micro-rotor, steel, stainless steel, beryllium copper, brass and German silver
Finishing: Highest-level haute horlogerie hand-finishing
Material: 18k white gold
Dimensions: 39.5mm x 12.9mm at highest point
Water resistance: 50m/5atm/170ft
Sapphire crystal with interior anti-reflection coating, front and display back
Crown for winding and time-setting at 2 o’clock
Strap and buckle
Brown alligator leather strap hand-stitched in Switzerland with white gold pin buckle. Deployant buckle available upon request.