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Light, sturdy and easy on the eye, while packing all the goodness of ultra high-end horology

22 Jun 2018

 

INSIGHT MICRO-ROTOR NATURAL TITANIUM & BLACK TITANIUM

Insight Micro-Rotor Natural Titanium and Black Titanium blend ultra high-end horology – an oh-so-finely-finished, in-house automatic movement featuring 22k gold bidirectional micro-rotor, all on show – with a perfectly executed 39.5mm Grade 5 titanium case that is light and sturdy, yet very easy on the eye. Horological sublimity and stylish wearability rolled into one.

“I feel more and more collectors are realising that haute horlogerie doesn’t have to come served in a precious metal or stainless steel case,”says Romain Gauthier. “When done well, titanium is not just a viable alternative, it can be an outright preference.”

Perhaps this is none more so than with Insight Micro-Rotor Natural Titanium and Black Titanium which combine the ergonomy of a casually-styled, modestly-sized titanium case with a spectacular manufacturemovement that is efficient, powerful, uncomplicated (for the better) and highly visible (even dial side). 

 

   

 

Sweeping around the centre of the dial are small seconds surrounded by an hour-minute subdial at 12 o’clock, beating balanceat 6 o’clock and, at 9 o’clock, the swaying micro-rotor, framed by a cut-out in the mainplate. This compact oscillating weight turns fluidly and noiselessly 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 that, when fully wound, provides 80 hours of power.

There are more stunning views of the movement through the display back: The sinuous shapes of the hand-bevelled, hand-polishedbridges – secured using Romain Gauthier’s signature S-slot screws – are juxtaposed by the linear plaquettes adorning them, while the gears and ratchets stand out for their circular arms that have been bevelled.

Part of these timepieces’ splendour lies in the contrasts created by the various finishes applied: Light and dark, polished and satin-finished, straight-grained and hand-frosted. 

For Insight Micro-Rotor Natural Titanium, the caseband and bezel are polished, while the lugs and caseback are satin-finished. The black NAC-treated mainplate makes the palladium-treated bridges visually pop, with the straight-graining of the dial-side bridges counterpointed by the hand-frosting on the mainplate. The oven-fired enamel dial bears a sumptuous gloss.

For Insight Micro-Rotor Black Titanium,the bezel, lugs and casebackof the ADLC titanium case are satin-finished, with the caseband polished. Both the bridges and mainplate are black NAC-treated but the straight-graining on the bridges makes them stand out against the hand-frosted mainplate. The same hand-frosting technique has been used to give the oven-fired enamel dial an eye-catching matte finish.

The result is the apotheosis of the daily, luxury timepiece that is a joy to look at, feels great to wear and fits in with manifold lifestyles.

Insight Micro-RotorNatural Titanium and Black Titanium are both available in three 10-piece limited editions: with oven-firedwhite enamel dial, oven-fired black enamel dial and oven-fired blue enamel dial. Strap options include casual matte black alligator leather and supple black natural rubber.

 

 

INSIGHT MICRO-ROTOR NATURAL TITANIUM & BLACK TITANIUM IN DETAIL

High-end horology housed in titanium: Build it, and they will come

When Romain Gauthier founded his eponymous brand in 2005, for the first six years he channelled his profound grasp of traditional Swiss watchmaking savoir-faire into creating majestic timepieces boasting innovatively engineered, exceptionally finished in-house movements in sumptuous cases crafted from the noble metals of gold and platinum. These creations were the bedrock on which Gauthier built his company. And so, when he launched his first titanium timepiece, Prestige HMS Natural Titanium, in 2011, it was at first met with a degree of resistance from the community of high-end collectors.

“Collectors knew me as an exponent of traditional Vallée de Joux watchmaking, presented in precious metal cases,”he says. “When I unveiled Prestige HMS Natural Titanium, people said: ‘Why? What are you doing combining your type of watchmaking with titanium?’ My response was: ‘Wait, bear with me on this one.”

Five years later, when he created Logical One Natural Titanium and Black Titanium, Gauthier still felt that most ultra high-end collectors were enjoying their timepieces in gold, platinum or stainless steel. Titanium seemed like a step too far for many. 

He says: “High-end collectors were still hesitant about going for titanium, but I was sure that in time they would move over and eventually wouldn’t think twice about acquiring an haute horlogerie timepiece in this material. My instinct was: ‘Build it, and they will come’.”

And they did come. Since 2017, a largenumber of collectors have bought Logical One Natural Titanium and Black Titanium, with Prestige HMS Natural Titanium and Black Titanium getting a significant look-in too.

Gauthier says: “It has vindicated my decision to create something that might not, when you first think about it, go hand in hand – a movement that is the real deal when it comes to haute horlogerie, beautifully finished and highly visible, yet housed in a titanium case.”

 

Insight Micro-Rotor Natural Titanium and Black Titanium

If ever there was a Romain Gauthier in-house calibre that was asking to be accompanied by a titanium case, it is Insight Micro-Rotor. This automatic movement’s efficiency and simplicity are perfectly complemented by the wearability of titanium.

The case’s 39.5mm diameter already ensures a neat fit on the wrist, with the lightness of the titanium only serving to enhance that comfort. Impressive design details of the case include a lip in the caseband that flares out to meet the bezel; the crown placed at 2 o’clock to free up space for wrist movement; and the bombé sapphire crystal which gradually rises so its highest point is over the hour-minute display – the true centre of the dial in Romain Gauthier’s eyes.

“With Insight Micro-Rotor Natural Titanium, there is a hint of casualness, a touch of sportiness, but not quite enough to detract from its credentials as a dress timepiece,”he says. “It can still be worn with a shirt and tie, and few observers would imagine that this piece is in titanium.”

He continues: “Insight Micro-Rotor Black Titanium is sportier, boasting a more casual style. Yet, it remains discreet, such that onlookers wouldn’t immediately guess all that is happening on the inside of the watch.”

 

Spectacular mechanics and fine finishing

Romain Gauthier has designed Insight Micro-Rotor’s movement to be highly visible so the viewer can gain an instant appreciation of the spectacular mechanics and fine finishing, giving rise to the name “Insight”. 

The labour-intensive decoration includes hand-made and hand-polished bevels, snailing, straight-graining, circular-graining, hand-frosting as well as hand-made and hand-polished jewel countersinks.

“The extreme visibility of the movement both dial side and through the display back means that we take care to hand-finish this micro-rotor calibre all over,”says Gauthier.

And it is this level of hand-finishing that helps to explain why Insight Micro-Rotoris one of the most expensive micro-rotor timepieces – if not themost expensive micro-rotor timepiece – in the world.

Gauthier says: “Insight Micro-Rotor really encapsulates my vision of watchmaking today in that it is about allowing the owner to enjoy their timepiece while wearing it. That might sound obvious, but I mean that they don’t have to take their watch off to look at or show someone the mechanics and the finishing; they can get a clear view of these delights simply when they take a look at the time.”

 

More about the movement

Insight Micro-Rotor’s movement was designed, developed, produced, decorated, assembled and regulated at Manufacture Romain Gauthier in the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland.

The bidirectionality of the micro-rotor is achieved through a reversinggear. The axis of this gear glides side to side, guided by a curved aperture cut within two arc-shaped steel plates which are black-polished to facilitate the gear’s lateral movement and rotation. 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.

Gauthier has designed the micro-rotor so that it turns between two bridges, each fitted with a ruby bearing, thus harnessing the watchmaking principle of avoiding metal against metal by putting metal against ruby.Rubies have a low coefficient of friction and high wear resistance, here helping to produce a smooth, inaudible rotation of the micro-rotor compared to, say, metal ball-bearings which can entail noise and wear.

Given the relative weight of the micro-rotor (4.3g/0.15oz), Gauthier has decided to eschew a ‘flying’ rotor supported by just one bridge from beneath and instead design the micro-rotor so it is sandwiched between two bridges, from above and from below, for superior stability.

The movement’s two mainspring barrels combine to offer 80 hours of energy at full wind. The barrels are in series for more constant power to the regulator that features the Romain Gauthier balance wheel with curved arms and calibrated eccentric weights plus hand-assembled pallet lever that is triangular for maximum rigidity.