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About time: Tonneau vision

Abid Rahman

 

Growing up, many of us saw, if you’ll pardon the pun, little point in geometry.

After all, finding out the exact measurements of a rhombus is hardly an everyday endeavour for most people. Similarly, I don’t think I’ve ever walked past a ladder and wondered what kind of triangle the space between ladder, wall and floor created.

Leaving aside such indifference, however, I’ve become rather obsessed recently with watch case shapes such as the tonneau, with its barrel-like bulging sides and round edges. The tonneau shape isn’t exactly a rarity in horology but it’s still a pleasant surprise when a watch such as the Hermès Dressage come to market. Drawing on its equine heritage for the name and on classic watchmaking for the design of the lugs, this timepiece has been around since 2003 but the range has been given a shot in the arm for its 10-year anniversary. The latest iteration boasts the new H1837 self-winding movement, made exclusively for Hermès by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier and able to pump out 50 hours of power.

Although the insides are a talking point, it’s the exterior that steals the show, with the original Henri D’Origny design still to the fore. The tonneau case measures 40.5mm by 38.4mm and is available in a variety of materials, including limited-edition rose gold (top) and the more accessible steel versions. The dial face is made of opaline silver with a vertical stamp motif. Functions are pretty simple, as befits the classic styling, with only a small seconds indicator at the six o’clock position. Prices for the Hermès Dressage vary, with the steel version a snip at HK$73,100, and the rose-gold anniversary version, which is limited to 175 pieces, priced at HK$252,900.

Some watchmakers have taken the tonneau shape and made it their own. Franck Muller and Richard Mille spring to mind, as does Corum, with its Golden Bridge line. New for 2013 is the Corum Golden Bridge Tourbillon Panoramique (left), a watch that makes full use of the tonneau shape by focusing attention on the unique elongated and skeletonised CO 100 movement. The tonneau case is sized at 38mm by 56mm and is made of 18-carat red gold – there is also a baguette diamond-set case, but, to be honest, it’s pretty overwhelming. The dial is skeletonised with only the movement, the hands and the screws holding the watch together visible, giving it an almost steam-punk or industrial vibe. The feature complication is, of course, the tourbillon positioned at the six o’clock position and at the opposite end is the neat Corum key logo. The CO 100 movement is a joy to behold and despite its delicate appearance can rev up about 90 hours of power. Limited to 10 pieces in red gold, prices for the Corum Golden Bridge Tourbillon Panoramique are available upon request.

Lastly, we have a brand that is making its About time debut: Dubey & Schaldenbrand, with its Grand Dome DT watch (right). This is simply a gorgeous watch, with its beautiful tonneau shape perfectly outlined by a black and red-gold colour scheme. The case is 37mm by 52mm and houses a Valjoux 7751 movement that has been handengraved and assembled in-house. Power reserve on the Grand Dome DT is 48 hours. The watch has a split-time chronograph with three counters on the dial and two push buttons on either side of the crown. Other features include a day/night indicator and day, date and month indications.

Prices for the Dubey & Schaldenbrand Grand Dome DT are available upon request.

 

 

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