H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack®: Perfection In Black29 September 2022
Warning to enthusiasts: do not believe H. Moser & Cie.’s payoff, that is, “own and unique take on Haute Horlogerie”. Because if it is true that, on the one hand, the brand led by Edouard Meylan breaks the mold of a certain type of watchmaking industry that we are used to see, on the other hand it is very reverent towards at least two core watchmaking features: research in technologies and materials, and striving for perfection. Seeing the new Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack® is believing.
THE FLYING TOURBILLON
This watch combines two complex and fascinating technologies, one with over 100 years of history, the other very modern. Let’s talk about the flying tourbillon and the Vantablack® coating. Just to refresh your memory, let us remember that the invention of the flying tourbillon dates back to around 1920 thanks to Saxon master watchmaker Alfred Helwig.
Born in 1886 in the cradle of German watchmaking, the Glashütte valley, Helwig updated Abraham-Louis Breguet’s invention by fixing the regulator mechanism in a single point, with two bearings to drive the tourbillon, positioned at a minimum distance from each other. Compared to the Breguet tourbillon, in the Helwig tourbillon the escapement cage, the wheel and the balance spring are fixed by a bridge with a single arm anchored to the movement base plate.
This way, it seems like the tourbillon is suspended in a vacuum while rotating. Since there is no bridge on the front side, the flying tourbillon allows you to see the cage and the whole mechanism without barriers. And thus increases the charm of the complication.
VANTABLACK®, H. MOSER & CIE.’S SIGNATURE
Together with the tradition of the tourbillon, H. Moser & Cie. has combined the Vantablack® innovation – already seen in the Venturer and Endeavour collections. Vantablack® is the trade name of a material created in 2012. Developed and patented by the British company Surrey NanoSystems, its name is the acronym of Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays, combined with Black.
It was the darkest known material until 2019, when engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed an even darker one. Its characteristic is to absorb light (99.965% of that emitted by a photon, against 99.995% of the MIT material), which is why it is used in astrophysics on telescopes, in the military for thermal camouflage, and in civil engineering for the construction of solar panels.
Since the eye needs light to be reflected in order to perceive what is before it, the Vantablack® is perceived as the absence of matter. Looking at the dial of the Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack®, we should have more or less the same feeling as if we were looking at a black hole. But a very precious one.
THE WARMTH OF GOLD
Very precious because this watch thrives on contrasts, first and foremost that between the black dial and the 5N red gold of which the bracelet, case and indices are made. The designers and engineers of H. Moser & Cie. have paid particular attention to the indices, as they are in close contact with the black of the dial. They have not been applied on it but positioned across the back, using a special plate: in this way they are visible or become invisible depending on whether they are seen at certain angles.
The hour and minute hands, in gold, are in the Streamliner collection’s classic syringe shape and are well highlighted thanks to the inserts made with Globolight®, a ceramic-based material containing Super-LumiNova. Because they are on absolute black, the hands need to stand out.
Of course, the mastery in creating the 40 mm case and bracelet in red gold is no exception. Both elements are Streamliner collection classics – which we have come to know on other watches such as the flyback chronograph or the perpetual calendar: cushion shape for the case, integrated design with articulated links for the bracelet. The red gold processing is truly spectacular.
The middle case alternates horizontal satin surfaces with other soleil satin surfaces and others that are still shiny. The bracelet has vertically satin-finished links on the external surface, on the one towards the wrist and on the side; the bevel is instead shiny as are the internal sides, where the links are joined together: these surfaces become visible every time the links are folded, generating unexpected plays of light on the bracelet.
THE HMC 804 CALIBER
If the light that strikes the case and bracelet animates them with unique reflections, the one that falls on the dial is swallowed by the black of the Vantablack®, on which the one-minute flying tourbillon with skeletonized bridges stands at 6 o’clock. It is the heart of the automatic caliber HMC 804. A movement that works at 21,600 vibrations / hour and has a minimum power reserve of 72 hours.
The construction of this caliber is an example of precious industrial synergy in the world of watchmaking. H. Moser & Cie. has a sister company, Precision Engineering AG – incorporated in 2012 into Moser Watch Holding – which is specialized in the production of watchmaking components for escapements.
Precision Engineering produces parts such as regulating organs and balance springs, which are used both for in-house production and to supply partner companies. It carries on all the construction phases, from design to the creation of a quality product ready to be integrated into the watch movement it must regulate.
More specifically, for the HMC 804 caliber that animates the Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack®, Precision Engineering has developed and produced in-house a double hairspring thanks to which the movement of the gravity point on each spring, when it expands, is corrected and the effect of friction reduced, significantly improving accuracy and isochronism.
A concentrate of watchmaking technology and art that was presented at the end of August during the Geneva Watch Days, and that H. Moser & Cie. sells for 126,000 euros. A price all in all suitable to the technology, research and materials that made the creation of this watch possible. And if it is an “own and unique take on Haute Horlogerie ” piece, you can judge for yourself. To us, it looks like textbook high watchmaking.
By Davide Passoni