Technical jargon aside, here's a summary of what you need to know about the long-awaited Harry Winston Opus 14, writes Candice Chan
1. It is inspired by American rock and roll
Cue the Star-Spangled Banner, Harry Winston's long-awaited Opus 14 looks like an American dream with its super large 54.7mm dial decked in the familiar red-blue-white colour scheme. There's even a big blue star that appears on a mobile disc located on the dial's top left-hand corner on command. Depending on the wearer's preference, this can be swapped with two other discs bearing the GMT time or date.
The watch mimics the mechanics of a jukebox and comes complete with its own stack of four vinyl records (three bearing the essential readings and one, featuring Mr Harry Winston's signature scrawled on a star emblazoned across the disc, purely for aesthetics) and a gripper arm. The only thing it can't do — yet — is play music. The star, colours and its overall aesthetics brings to mind US' 1950s rock-and-roll era, an exciting time where everything appeared bigger, brighter and louder.
2. It's Complicated
Although it sounds and looks like a really entertaining timepiece to own, manufacturing the Opus 14 was no fun and games. Composed of 1,066 parts, the mechanics behind it is mind-boggling and best understood visually. Underneath the local time disc, which is permanently displayed at the top, are the other three discs. A function selector located on the case band allows the wearer to choose the required function while a button at four o'clock activates a small arm that pulls out the correct disc. Once this disc is displayed at two o'clock (like a vinyl on a turntable), a gear train is activated and spins the disc so it displays the correct information. Two of the discs (the ones showing the GMT time and date) can actually revolve — however, unlike a playing record that spins continuously, the discs only advance with the corresponding disc's unit of measurement — either by the hour or day.
The last disc that shows the star is static. The same pusher at four o'clock returns the disk to the stack and the entire animation takes about eight seconds — five for the disc to be pulled out and three for it to return. Throughout this process, a familiar whirring sound can be heard because the disc is controlled by an anchor regulator, not unlike those found in older minute repeaters. Local time is set via the crown while the GMT time and the date is set via two pushers at 12 o'clock. The watch is powered by two independent power reserves: One to ensure 68 hours of timekeeping autonomy; and the other to animate the jukebox mechanism.
3. It continues the Harry Winston Opus tradition of working with independent watchmakers
This is the first Opus creation since Swatch Group acquired Harry Winston. Despite rampant rumours that the Opus 14's movement would be the product of a collaboration between a Breguet and Blancpain watchmaker, it was in fact devised by the two founders of Telos Watch, Johnny Girardin and Franck Orny. Both gentlemen are known for having designed Montblanc's Timewriter Metamorphosis wristwatch. Even though the Swatch Group is more than capable of producing its own innovative timepiece, it kept with the Opus tradition of outsourcing talent and working with independent watchmakers.
There's one last point: Limited to just 50 pieces, the Opus 14 is available for sale immediately at a cool price of €410,000. In fact, we heard that Harry Winston rang in several sales the day after the global launch of the Opus 14 in Baden-Baden, Germany on October 27. These first few lucky ones can expect to collect their watches by the end of the year.
For a more detailed report on the Harry Winston Opus 14, look out for the Prestige December issue.