What’s the most cutting-edge artistic technique used in watchmaking? It’s a difficult question to answer because when we think of artistic watches, we tend to think about traditional techniques such as Grand Feu enamel and métiers d’art like marquetry and engraving. Last year Aventi unveiled their answer to cutting edge art by combining a 4,000-year-old technique with the hyper modern material, sapphire crystal. The resulting watch was the Aventi Golden Tiger and after a short hiatus, it is now available to order.
Let’s not beat around the bush and cut right to the titular tiger found suspended in the watch’s dial. It’s made with a technique that I’ve never seen used in watchmaking before, intaglio, an ancient form of gem and glass engraving. It involves carefully hand carving into the surface of the material, which in the case of Aventi is transparent sapphire crystal, to create a design that is sunk into it. Aventi have then taken this completely transparent, recessed tiger head engraving and filled the cavity with 24k gold. Essentially the sapphire crystal acts as a mould for the golden tiger.
Normally with a mould you’d then remove the material to reveal the sculpture in relief housed inside. However, because Aventi have used a completely transparent, incredibly hard material in sapphire crystal, you can see the tiger inside. It’s this fact that gives the tiger its suspended, floating appearance as it hovers beneath the hands and tourbillon bridges but above the tourbillon and movement.
It also means none of the detail in the tiger’s face is lost, with the hairs, whiskers and furrowed skin all immaculately clear. In fact, ensuring perfect detail on the tiger’s head is why Aventi waited for a year before bringing the watch to market, perfecting the technique to a higher degree. It’s really impressive to see when you consider the fact that all those details were sculpted in reverse into the crystal rather than engraved onto the gold.
Beyond this métiers d’art centrepiece, the Aventi Golden Tiger is more or less business as usual for Aventi. It features their signature facetted case in broad wedge shape that measures 44mm x 49mm with a thickness of 14.5mm made from sapphire crystal. It’s a very distinctive, almost futuristic design that suits the cutting edge materials and techniques being employed.
As for the visible movement beneath the tiger, it’s the Aventi Calibre GT-01S. It’s a manual wind tourbillon piece with a 105-hour power reserve and accuracy of +/- 4 seconds per day. Plus it has 5000 G shock resistance and 2000 gauss magnetic field resistance, making it extremely resilient. Part of that comes from the fact it’s predominantly made from titanium, a metal renowned for its high strength to density ratio, making it extremely strong despite being lightweight. It’s finished with bevelled edges and perlage.
Aventi describe the Golden Tiger as their first ever artistic watch, reaching beyond their usual interest in cutting edge materials and mechanics to strive for beauty for beauty’s sake. But they’ve done so in the most Aventi way possible with a rare technique that uses the sapphire itself as a canvas to create the tiger on. The watch’s unveiling also coincided with the Year of the Tiger making me wonder if we’ll see a dragon, snake or horse edition in the coming years. It’s now available to order for the first time with extremely limited production upon special request at CHF 55,000 (approx. £49,500).
Price and Specs:
More details at Aventi.