An old nemesis brings new life to a high-end Swiss timepiece.
Watch purists tend to abide by certain codes. An excess of bling obscuring a timepiece, for example, is typically frowned upon. But for many, the injudicious application of diamonds pales in comparison to the ultimate unacceptable deal – the quartz watch, whose advent dealt a blow to the Swiss mechanical watch industry in the ’70s.
Indeed, fans of fine mechanical timepieces have reason to regard quartz technology as the antithesis of the former. Typically a battery-operated system regulated by an electrically driven quartz crystal, a quartz movement can be easily churned out in large quantities on a production line. In comparison, a high-end mechanical watch is all about the human hand. It runs purely on springs and gears assembled by a watchmaker – and said parts would most likely have been engraved and polished to a fine finish by a decorator.
These longstanding differences make Piaget’s latest timepiece that much more intriguing: The Emperador Coussin XL 700P is a hybrid model combining a mechanical movement with a quartz regulator. This allows Piaget to harness the most prized quality of quartz technology – its accuracy – while retaining the use of the elaborately crafted components that give mechanical watches their soul.
The 46.5mm white gold watch also marks the 40th anniversary of the 7P calibre, Piaget’s first in-house quartz movement. Back in 1976, the 7P was created as a response to the quartz challenge mounted by companies like Seiko. Today, will the unlikely fusion of two polarising technologies help this Swiss brand stand out, especially amid the noise generated by smartwatches, the latest technologically driven contenders in the horological arena? Time, as they say, will tell.
Other watches that mix the electronic and the mechanical.
SEIKO SPRING DRIVE
Since the Piaget Calibre 700P was unveiled, it has been often compared to the Seiko Spring Drive, another quartz-mechanical hybrid. These movements have been used in the Japanese brand’s higher-end series, including the Grand Seiko (pictured) and Credor families.
Designed for obsessives who refuse to sit idly by while their mechanical watches lose or gain time, the Urwerk EMC is a manually wound watch equipped with an EMC – or Electro Mechanical Control. Powered by an old-school hand crank, the EMC lets users monitor and fine-tune their watches for greater accuracy.