Watches: Christophe Claret Aventicum (+ live pictures)

By Thierry Ané on January 22, 2015

For this Geneva Week, Christophe Claret set aside the universe of gambling and did not introduce a brand new highly complicated model either. His inspiration this time came from another passion of his that we did not know so far: history, and more precisely the Roman Empire.

Intrigued by the excavations that took place near Avenches in Switzerland where once stood the metropolis of Aventicum, the talented watchmaker was particularly drawn to a splendid solid gold bust of Emperor Marcus Aurelius that was discovered in mint condition. It was under his reign that the city of Aventicum grew to become the capital of Helvetica.

To pay homage to the first Emperor and founder of the Roman Empire, Christophe Claret decided to place a reproduction of this bust at the very heart of one of his timepieces. 3-dimensional filming techniques were used to uncover the tiniest details of the artefact and re-create a 3 mm-high solid gold reproduction of Marcus Aurelius’ bust using micro-engraving techniques.

This micro-sculpture was then placed at the heart of the watch, in the middle of the dial. But in order to make it more visible to the naked eye, a new magnifying technique called mirascope has to be used. Basically, the mirascope is comprised of two identical parabolic mirrors arranged one on top of the other, creating an elliptical shape. The convex mirror on top has a hole in the middle. When an object is placed in the centre of the concave bottom mirror, the reflection from the top mirror creates a hologram of the object, which appears nearly two times larger than it actually is.

The rest of the dial combining rose or white gold elements and anthracite parts has been adorned with Roman numerals and the hours and minutes indications have been placed at its periphery. The in-house AVE15 calibre that animates the watch with its 72 hours of power reserve can be observed through the sapphire crystal on the back of the case. Here again, the tribute to the Roman Empire continues with a sapphire oscillating weight with five high-definition metalized Roman racing chariots.

If you are an addicted gambler that cannot survive without his Poker or Baccara watch on the wrist, don’t worry: Mr Claret also included a playful element in this Aventicum model. Indeed, you just need to bet on one of the chariots and set the rotor in action. When it stops, the player whose chariot ends up in front of the “A” of Marc Aurele’s surname is the winner!

The Aventicum comes in two limited edition versions: 68 pieces in rose gold and another 38 in white gold. In both instances, the 44 x 52.11 mm case with a thickness of 18.49 mm combines gold with anthracite PVD-treated titanium on the case band and lugs. They are both mounted on black alligator straps secured by folding buckles in the same gold as the case. The beautiful grooved crowns also blend gold with anthracite PVD titanium and showcase a cabochon in black PVD titanium. The Aventicum in rose gold will retail for CHF 49,000 and the white gold rendition carries a CHF 53,000 price tag.

I really like the general aesthetics of these watches that scream “Christophe Claret” to me. I am also particularly fond of the generous proportions of these models that look simply stunning on the wrist. The watches are expertly crafted and each gold hue has its own appeal. I also appreciate the peripheral reading of the time that leaves the dial uncluttered for the micro-sculpture. However, I find the micro-sculpture very difficult to see even with the mirascope technique supposed to magnify it: under many angles, the only thing you really manage to see is your own reflection in the parabolic mirrors, and it takes quite a bit of experience to find the correct viewing angle.

For more information please visit the Christophe Claret web site.