Some of the most sophisticated technology is being used by traditional replica watchmakers such as Breitling, Audemars and Piaget
The Superocean Héritage Chronoworks is a handsome black timepiece launched earlier this year and is a descendant of the first Superocean, which made its debut in 1957. To create the new watch, Breitling established Chronoworks in 2014, a horological version of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works—a separate unit within the aerospace giant dedicated to hatching advanced planes. The brief for Chronoworks has been, and is, to develop innovative fake watch technologies.
The team there consists of a watchmaker, an engineer, a chemist, a materials expert and a mathematician: At a basic level, the watchmaker contributes knowledge of replica watch swiss movements; the engineer determines whether a mechanical innovation can be produced in low or high volumes; and the chemist hunts for the best lubricants, while also experimenting with how hard surfaces interact over long time frames. The materials expert explores new materials—alloys, compounds, ceramics and silicon; and then there’s the mathematician, who uses mathematical formulas to determine the size of components, for example the balance spring and the number of teeth on a gear wheel.
Oil and water, Cap’n Crunch and Château Lafite Rothschild, mechanical watch movements and quartz: These are all pairings that should never happen—except the last one has.
Earlier this year Piaget replica watch unveiled its Emperador Coussin XL 700P, a quartz/mechanical hybrid.
The watchmaker is something of an outlier in haute-horlogerie circles. Founded in 1874 as a movement manufacture, the company didn’t produce a watch branded Piaget until the 1940s. Then in the 1960s came a successful Piaget extension into jewelry, unusual for a watch brand at the time.
Ultrathin movements are a replica Piaget hallmark—the brand’s first dates from the 19th century—and in 1960 Piaget introduced the 12P, a 2.3mm self-winding mechanical movement. In 1976 came the 7P, a 3.1mm quartz movement. In 2014, a new offering: the Altiplano 900P, a 3.65mm mechanical watch which won accolades from many in the industry. In total, the brand produces 25 ultrathin calibers—all of which add up to considerable horological street cred. The XL 700P, with the daring marriage of quartz and mechanical, displays serious horological chutzpah.
This is a mechanical watch without an escapement or balance wheel, the mechanisms that regulate the flow of energy in the movement. To do that job, the 700P employs an electrodynamic generator. The 700P doesn’t have a battery. As with any other self-winding watch, a rotor winds the mainspring. Energy created as the mainspring unwinds is transmitted to the electrodynamic generator. The generator converts the mainspring’s mechanical energy into electrical energy which then causes a quartz crystal resembling a tuning fork to oscillate. Ultimately, the extremely precise and consistent oscillations control the wheels of the gear train, which in turn control the hour and minute hands.
What does all this technology mean? Three things: great accuracy, enough energy for a 42-hour power reserve, and because there is no steel balance wheel, increased resistance to magnetism.
The high-tech replicawatch is also beautiful, with a cushion-shaped case and a black-coated movement complete with circular Geneva Strips, exposed satin-brushed wheels, silvered screws and a platinum microrotor. On the 46.5mm case is a black-coated white-gold bezel. On the front, the microrotor and generator form a figure-of-eight; the lack of a seconds hand keeps things simple and legible as does positioning the power-reserve indicator on the back of the watch.
The really interesting thing about the XL 700P can be summed up in one word: potential. Piaget should have no problem introducing any number of complications on the watch, such as moon phases, perpetual calendars, a second time zone, and so on.
When Giulio Papi set out to improve the sound of minute repeaters (watches that chime the hours and minutes) his first challenge was the ears of his watchmakers, and the result is the replica Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie.
Mr. Papi is the director of Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi, a horological hothouse of revolutionary mechanical devices for AP and other brands. Starting with researchers at the University of Lausanne, Mr. Papi assembled a team including opticians, musicians, neurologists, computer scientists and instrument makers. Their aim was to help the watchmakers find the right sound for a minute repeater: Not simply a sound that was louder—chimes audible over the cacophony of modern life—but one that was “pleasant,” says Mr. Papi, to the ear.
The human ear possesses heightened awareness of sounds vibrating at 4,000 hertz. A distant but clearly heard infant’s cry or a voice that is distinguishable in a crowded, noisy room is likely to be hitting the 4,000-hertz sweet spot. The team’s conclusion was that an almost-always audible repeater would produce sound at about the same level. For cultural reasons, however, Asians and Westerners identify different sounds as pleasant. So, Mr. Papi’s yellow dial watch replica watchmakers fine-tune a repeater destined for the Far East differently to one heading west.