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Erwin Sattler Opus Moon Tourbillon Showcases Watch-Based Horology in a Table Clock

Erwin Sattler Opus Moon Tourbillon Gold Plated

I don’t think it’s an incendiary statement to say that clockmaking and watchmaking are closely related arts – or even the same art as they both fall under the banner of horology. The main difference is that they have different restrictions, requirements and scales, but the technology used in both is fundamentally the same. This is particularly noticeable in Erwin Sattler’s latest table clock project, the Opus Moon Tourbillon, which uses a mechanism originally designed for watches.

That mechanism is the titular tourbillon, a device first invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801 for use in pocket watches. It was his observation that when a watch is held in a single orientation for a long time (such as upright in a pocket), gravity can have adverse effects on the escapement, reducing accuracy. By placing the escapement inside a rotating cage, the effects of gravity are being constantly compensated for. This rotating escapement is called a tourbillon. Can you think of another horological device other than a pocket watch that sits in the same orientation for long periods of time?

Erwin Sattler Opus Moon Tourbillon Rhodium Plated

If you said clock, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Clocks are, if anything, even more static than pocket watches and so offsetting the impact of gravity is even more important. The Opus Moon Tourbillon achieves this by featuring a large tourbillon nestled into the funnel subdial below the 12 o’clock marker. The tourbillon rotates once every 60-seconds and so also functions as the piece’s seconds indicator.

It looks spectacular as the funnel really draws the eye in towards the tourbillon. It consists of a brushed cone set with 12 diamonds and surrounded by a hand-guilloché ring in either rhodium or gold plate. The same is true of the second funnel at 6 o’clock which houses a hand-painted moonphase complication at its centre.

Erwin Sattler Opus Moon Tourbillon Rhodium Plated
Erwin Sattler Opus Moon Tourbillon Rhodium Plated

Zooming out from the two funnels, we see that they’re housed in a rectangular dial suspended inside a glass box. It gives the display the illusion that it’s floating, similar to a style of wristwatch known as a Mystery, where it initially appears to be a feat of impossible engineering. For the Opus Moon Tourbillon, you need only rotate it to the side to see that the display is being supported from the rear. Coincidentally, if you do look at the side, that’s where you’ll see the power reserve indicator.

Continuing with the case, that central glass box is itself contained within a stainless steel frame with an X-like shape. The combination of the frame, extensive use of glass and partially exposed skeleton movement gives the piece a very modern appearance, in keeping with Erwin Sattler’s core aesthetics. At the same time, if you were to shrink the main dial down to 30mm or so, it would make for a fantastic cousin to the Cartier Tank with an Art Deco-esque influence for a really fun juxtaposition of styles.

Erwin Sattler Opus Moon Tourbillon Rhodium Plated
Erwin Sattler Opus Moon Tourbillon Rhodium Plated

The movement powering the piece is the Sattler Calibre 1399-5. It’s a manual wind piece with a 15-day power reserve (imagine that on a wristwatch) that’s wound with a separate key. It’s also a constant force movement, equipped with a fusee, which means that as the power reserve reduces over time, the torque applied to the system remains consistent – helping to maintain accuracy even when the clock is running low on energy. All told, the Opus Moon Tourbillon achieves an average accuracy within 5 seconds per day.

Erwin Sattler Opus Moon Tourbillon Rhodium Plated

Really, the Erwin Sattler Opus Moon Tourbillon is one of the clearest examples of the similarities and differences between watches and clocks and the ways in which they both use horology to overcome their challenges. The pricing and exclusivity are also similar to a luxury watch at €32,900 (approx. £28,200) and a limited edition of 66 pieces. Erwin Sattler do produce wristwatches in addition to clocks, so it would be a crime if they don’t develop a wristwatch based on the style of this clock, it would be amazing.

Price and Specs:

Model: Erwin Sattler Opus Moon Tourbillon
Case: 35cm height x 25cm width x 14cm depth, polished stainless steel
Dial: Adonised, 15 part, hand painted moon sphere, funnel for moon sphere and tourbillon each set with 12 brilliant cut diamonds, two recessed hand guilloche rings
Movement: Sattler calibre 1399-5, automatic, 11 jewels, 18 ball bearings, mainspring with fusee for constant force
Frequency: 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 15 days
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, moonphase, tourbillon
Price: €32,900 (approx. £28,200), limited to 66 pieces

More details at Erwin Sattler.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.