Christophe Claret: Allegro

May 27th, 2015

Following Adagio and Soprano, Christophe Claret presents his latest musical masterpiece, Allegro. A master watchmaker with 25 years of experience, Christophe Claret has combined the finest horological complications in Allegro: minute repeater with cathedral gongs, GMT, big date, small seconds and day/night indicator. These features are all found in a completely redesigned movement featuring a unique regulator that was designed and manufactured in-house. The round case harmoniously blends either red gold or white gold with titanium. An opening in the sapphire dial reveals the striking mechanism. The transparent dial allows the wearer to marvel at the movement’s architecture, featuring Charles X style skeletonized, stepped bridges. With this new timepiece, the conductor of this musical horological orchestra from Le Locle proves he is at the zenith of his art.

Ever since the day Christophe Claret entered the workshop of a watchmaker and restorer as a student, he has had an unquenchable passion for complicated timepieces, especially antique pocket watches equipped with a minute repeater. These marvels of precision strike the hours, quarters and minutes on demand. Christophe Claret has continued to study the minute repeater in order to understand and improve this great complication, which many consider the finest in watchmaking because it blends musical poetry with technical complexity. In 1989, the first very caliber bearing the name Christophe Claret was a minute repeater. This was followed by a series of chiming watches with evocative names like Adagio, Soprano and now Allegro, the latest in this prestigious musical series. Allegro honors tradition on the one hand, while the other is resolutely turned towards modernity and innovation. All this without any technical or esthetical compromises, and all in respect of the exigencies demanded by Swiss haute horlogerie.

Today Allegro sets the tone in the Christophe Claret collection of Traditional Complications, the first of four collections by the Le Locle-based brand. Allegro is inspired by Christophe Claret’s previous creations while pushing the limits of what’s possible in watchmaking. The movement has been completely redesigned, from the plates and bridges through to the inertia flywheel regulating the minute repeating mechanism, and including the critical heart of the piece: the regulating organ. The balance, balance spring and anchor have all been developed and manufactured in-house, proving that Manufacture Claret is one of the very few watchmakers to master all facets of production.

Allegro’s caliber  is regulated by a 3 Hz (21,600 vibrations per hour) balance, and powered by a single mainspring barrel − rare for this type of movement − providing a very healthy 60-hours of power reserve. The minute repeater is activated by a traditional slide at 10 o’clock on the left side of the caseband. Part of the repeater mechanism, the rake, is visible through an opening in the lower section of the sapphire dial. Both hammers – the four-armed balance wheel and repeater inertia governor – are visible through the display back. For Allegro, Christophe Claret selected a balance wheel with countersunk screws. Despite being more complex, this type of balance offers a near perfect inertia/weight ratio, aerodynamic form, and ease of regulation and balancing. Cathedral gongs, which circle the movement not once but twice, are a particular passion of Christophe Claret’s and considerable emphasis is devoted to their manufacture using traditional drawn steel, as well as assembling and tuning. The cathedral gongs also benefit from a patented Christophe Claret invention that minimizes excessive vibrations resulting in clearer crystalline chimes. Allegro’s movement has no fewer than three patents for: the big date, the balance micro-regulation, and the gongs. The numbers of the patent are engraved on the back of the caseback.

Allegro’s complications offer several useful features. A GMT/second time zone is displayed at 3 o’clock on the dial and is adjustable by means of a caseband pusher at 4 o’clock. Complementing the GMT is a day/night indicator. Allegro also features a big date at 12 o’clock, which is adjusted by a caseband pusher at 2 o’clock and small seconds are displayed in a subdial at 9 o’clock.

Christophe Claret masterpieces all possess the same meticulous attention to detail in esthetics as to the technical workings. Allegro’s stunning movement – beadblasted and rhodium-plated nickel silver for the white gold version or pink gold for the pink gold version – is emphasized by the 45mm precious metal case. A harmonious blend of red gold or white gold, depending on the version, and anthracite PVD treated grade 5 titanium, draws in the eye with light that glimmers off of a polished satin finish. The sapphire dial also intrigues as it plays with different intensities and tonalities of light: clarity and obscurity, light and shadow.

The hands are crafted from either orange sapphire crystal and anthracite PVD treated titanium, or sapphire crystal, black lacquer and anthracite PVD titanium. Through the display back we see the famous stepped and skeletonized Charles X type bridges. The Charles X style of bridge, so dear to the heart of watchmakers, is also found on the balance cock, which features a patented regulation system and shock protection set in a ruby bearing housed in a gold chaton. Completing the ensemble are a musical bar and a few notes, delicately placed on Allegro’s back using a metallization process.

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