By Rebecca Doulton in Madrid
A curious linguistic anecdote illustrates the prestige that Edouard Bovet's brand enjoyed in Imperial China in the early 19th century. As purveyor of exquisitely decorated Swiss pocket watches to the Emperor and mandarins, the name Bovet - bo-wei - made its way into the Chinese language as a term for high-quality timepieces. In fact, one of Bovet's pocket watches, adorned with a miniature painting of two swans on its caseback, is still on display as part of the treasures of the Forbidden City.
In 2001, when Pascal Raffy decided to resuscitate the historical brand, one thing was clear: the original array of decorative arts - including enamelling, gem setting, lacquering and the exquisite Fleurisanne hand engravings that enriched almost every surface of the movements - would have to be revived. In less than 15 years, Bovet has carved a name for its exquisite artisanship, sophisticated movements, an infinite variety of personalisation options and its famous 'convertible' pocket watches.
Inspired by the pocket watches that Edouard Bovet crafted for China's Middle Empire dynasty, with the crown and hinged bow at 12 o'clock, the squiggly serpentine hands and lavishly decorated dials, the Amadeo Fleurier collection is endowed with a unique feature. By simply depressing a button, the timepiece can be transformed into a pocket watch, a wristwatch, a pendant and a table clock thanks to the ingenious Amadeo system.
Bovet, which has been creating high-end women's watches since 2011, unveiled a model of the Amadeo® Fleurier family at Salon Bovet in Geneva this January. Slightly smaller in size and slimmer than her red and white gold sisters, the 36mm convertible stainless-steel case of 'Miss Audrey' features a magnificent guilloché lacquered dial in turquoise or light purple, a diamond-set bezel, a bow and four diamond indices.
Following in the footsteps of last year's Récital 9 'Miss Alexandra' Tourbillon, this year's Récital 11 is a showcase for Bovet's impeccable horological credentials, with its 7-day tourbillon and Moon phase module that requires but a one-day correction every 122 years.
The 41mm oval-shaped dial frames the skills of Bovet's in-house artisans, with its mother-of-pearl guilloché dial, chased movement and Moon phase counter. The exact cartography of the Moon has been recreated with a luminous material inserted into the hollow craters, and the black sky has been chased to suggest the presence of stars. Beady-eyed observers will notice the unusual shape of the hour and minute hands, which form a heart when united.
Pascal Raffy is as exacting when it comes to the quality of his movements as he is obsessive over artistic finishes. To prove his point, take a look at the new Tourbillon Virtuoso III, a Grande Complication tourbillon movement with a five-day power reserve and retrograde perpetual calendar. It will come as no surprise to discover that Bovet is co-founder of the Fleurier Quality Foundation, the FQF, an independent label that certifies the aesthetic and chronometric precision of a watch, adopted by other brands such as Chopard.
Raffy's business acumen has gone beyond historical nostalgia. With the acquisition of his complications and dial supplier - christened Dimier 1738 - and his Haute Horlogerie watchmaking workshop, housed in the historical Château de Môtiers in Fleury, it is fair to say that Bovet is practically self-sufficient.