Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII Retrograde Perpetual Calendar Watch Review
The newest “Virtuoso” model from Bovet for 2015 is this “Bovet Amadeo Fleurier Virtuoso VII Retrograde Perpetual Calendar” watch that, in addition to our review, is being officially launched today. I have had the opportunity to wear this model for a while prior to launch and have some interesting things to say about Bovet’s latest complicated timepiece. Because the name of this Bovet watch is tantamount to a tongue twister, I will refer to it merely as the “Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII.”
“Virtuoso” is actually the name of a movement family produced in-house by Bovet which serves as a base for a growing number of models. The Virtuoso movement is interesting not only because it is designed as a base to be built upon (that is rather common), but more so, because it is designed to offer dual-sided timepieces. Bovet isn’t a stranger to watches that you can wear in a number of ways. In fact, there are at least five ways I can think of off the bat that you can use the Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII (I’ll get more into that later). So not only is the Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII a “convertible watch,” but it is also a dual-sided watch.
Bovet debuted the Virtuoso family in 2014 with the release of the Bovet Recital 12 (hands-on here). Offering the most stripped down version of the Virtuoso possible, the Recital 12 is a fantastic watch for its ultra-thin nature. If you look at the dial of the Recital 12, you’ll notice that it is the exact same as the “back” of the Virtuoso VII, only turned 45 degrees.
One of the key elements of the Virtuoso movement family is what Bovet describes as the “double co-axial seconds” indicator which means that the subsidiary seconds dial goes right through the dial – and is visible on both sides of the watch. You can actually see right through the dial in the subsidiary seconds dial, and it has two hands so that you can view it from both the front and rear of the watch.
Of course, both sides of the watch have displays for the time, but they aren’t on the same part of the movement, so you can notice some fancy gear work is going on underneath. It would have been a lot simpler for Bovet to include the dials for the time in the same places on the movement, but they did not. For this reason, on one side of the watch, the dial for the time is in the center, while on the other side, it is under the 12 o’clock position.
Bovet refers to this movement as the caliber 13BBM12-AIQPR. It is hand-wound with 5 days of power reserve operating at 3Hz (21,600 bph). On the most simple dial, you get the time, subsidiary seconds, and a power reserve indicator. On the more complicated side of the watch, you have the time, and a perpetual calendar display.
The perpetual calendar layout is interesting, but familiar if you are used to the types of watches that Bovet tends to design. The center of the face is the dial for the time, and it is enveloped by a retrograde date indicator. This is a nice design, but the small arrow that indicates the date is going to be a pain for people with vision problems to see. Actually, while I am on that note, I am going to generally recommend against watches such as this for people with vision problems as they will be squinting entirely too much. As Bovet owner Mr. Pascal Raffy likes to say: the Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII is full of “artistic density,” and that means reading all the little indicators is a bit on the harder side.
If your vision is very good, then allow me to move on to the indicator for the day of the week (to the left of the time dial), the indicator for the month (to the right), and the leap year indicator (above). Each is displayed on a transparent disc with the current value being read against a white back plate. Each of the perpetual calendar functions can be individually adjusted via inset pushers on the side of the case, and Bovet includes a small tool to do this.
This “Retrograde Perpetual Calendar” side of the dial is perhaps uniquely symmetrical for Bovet. In this 18k white gold case, the dials are white lacquer, and in the also available 18k red gold case, they are in black. There is of course the matter of the skeletonized dial with a view of the elements of the movement. Look closely, and you’ll notice areas of hand-engraving where Bovet includes a series of small, but pleasant Arabesque decorations.
It doesn’t bother me too much that there is a lot of “explanatory text” on each of the dials. This is actually visually downplayed because, for the most part, the text is in cursive, so it doesn’t look as prominent as it would otherwise. With that said, I don’t know how necessary much of this text is. I mention this because some people seem to be a lot more sensitive to dial text, and it can annoy those who are.
While some of the auxiliary information on the Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII is on the harder-to-read side, the dials for the time are rather legible, which is a positive. I also like how on the perpetual calendar side the dial sits under a domed sapphire crystal and is visibly quite three-dimensionally. This makes for a great view from angles as well as directly from above. The sapphire crystal on this “front” side of the watch is more domed than the crystal on the other side.
According to Bovet, the sapphire crystals add about 4mm of thickness to the case which in total is 15.8mm thick. While this is never going to be considered an ultra-thin watch, that isn’t too thick when you consider the watch has two distinct dial sides. The Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII Retrograde Perpetual Calendar case is 43.3mm wide and wears rather comfortably, given the shorter lug structures. Because this is an Amadeo-style case, you have the crown over 12 o’clock with the “ribbon-style” crown protector which is inspired by pocket watches. In the crown and on the ends of the single-piece-style lugs are sapphire crystal cabochons.
The designs of Bovet watches aren’t for everyone, but the brand is going for a decidedly non-mainstream appeal (if you haven’t noticed). There is a lot of beauty here if you can get behind what is inherently a non-traditional look – which is, nevertheless, inspired by traditional design elements.
Above, I mentioned that the Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII is a convertible style watch thanks to its Bovet Amadeo case. I last reviewed a Bovet Amadeo watch in 2014 with this Meteorite-dialed model here. The Amadeo case is designed to do a few things, but being double-sided is not always one of them. So in the case of the Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII Retrograde Perpetual Calendar you also get the benefit of wearing the watch on either side.
Amadeo cases allow you to wear the watch as a wrist watch, pocket watch, pendant, or use it as a table clock. You can see that I have the Bovet pocket watch chain which connects to the upper lug structure. To “convert” the case, you need only press in on the sides of the upper lugs to remove the strap or chain, and then unhinge the rear “leg” of the case to release the lower strap. It works quite well and, when attached, all the parts feel secure. I’ve mentioned this in the past, and I’ll say it again: I am pretty sure most people end up “using” their Bovet Amadeo watches in mostly one form. With that said, I like that built in versatility which makes this toy a lot more fun to play with.
Note, also, that the strap on this particular review watch is not the retail strap. Brands typically send over watches with faux-alligator straps through customs due to CITES – which makes the importation of reptile straps a lot more difficult. So if the strap doesn’t look quite right to you, that is why.
The Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII Retrograde Perpetual Calendar is of course a limited edition. Most all Bovet watches are. I sort of love the idea of being in the position of a product manager at a company that only does limited edition models. You get to create something interesting or beautiful, or weird, and then don’t need to completely dedicate to it. If it becomes a success, then you get to revisit it with a similar model in the future, if it isn’t a success, then you chalk it up to a learning experience and experiment that will likely appeal to a handful of collectors.
Bovet will likely release additional Virtuoso models in the future which build on and add to this concept. In a sense, Bovet design is like a moving target because they keep adding more. For really well-funded fans, this is a good thing, because the brand keeps the level of variety high. For others, it can be daunting to invest in a Bovet watch because it is difficult to know what they will come out with next. That, I suppose, is a common concern with luxury brands, because there is always something else interesting around the corner that might excite and delight you.
The Bovet Amadeo Fleurier Virtuoso VII Retrograde Perpetual Calendar is an interesting model with a lot of appeal. I suppose the best suited customers are those looking for a diverse and unique watch with a perpetual calendar, but that don’t want to pay for the premium of a tourbillon (which many Bovet perpetual calendar watches have). That “saves” you a lot and still delivers a lot of what makes Bovet… well, Bovet. Price is $82,800. bovet.com
>Model: Amadeo Fleurier Virtuoso VII Retrograde Perpetual Calendar ref. ACQPR002
>Price: $82,800 USD
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Complicated watch lover who delights in Old World style but wants something unique and fun to play with.
>Best characteristic of watch: Lots of wearing variety and good execution of interesting concept with a lot of nice details.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Expensive despite level of exclusivity. Quality is there, for sure, but some of the design choices don’t always seem as refined as they could be.