Bovet Virtuoso

Can’t a guy just want everything? People will often tell you that you can’t have everything you want; the pessimists will go further and say you won’t get what you want, you just have to accept what you get. To them I say, “phooey!” Bovet Virtuoso

Phooey to the notion that I have to accept things the way they are and phooey to the belief that I can’t get what I want. I understand it won’t be easy, and some things are definitely out of my control, but I refuse to accept that I need to give up on wanting what I want! Bovet Virtuoso

The world convinces us that we shouldn’t hope or dream, that we shouldn’t ask for “too much” and should be happy with what we are given, have realistic expectations. Sure, gratitude is a virtue that can smooth out the roughness of existence, but it shouldn’t become complacency that dulls the passion within the soul. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (and the thousands of people at NASA) didn’t just accept that walking on the moon was too difficult to even try. They worked to make the things they wanted a reality even if they did know it may not happen.

That is my position on life: being happy with less but working for more. I fully expect not to get everything I want (I’m not delusional), but I am not easily discouraged when going for things I truly want. When it comes to my passions, I’m willing to put up with a lot of failure and setbacks while trying to achieve something great. Failure is always an option, and some paths are doomed from the start. But I still try because I’m always searching for better.

Or at least that is how I hope to be: seeing inspirational people striving to have all the things they want helps keep the fire alive inside of me. That brings me to Bovet (and demonstrates my masterful use of the segue).

I’ve spoken before about how Bovet and its designers and engineers often work very hard to keep design intent through the manufacturing process, demonstrating via the Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One how the brand definitely works to make all the things a reality.
In 2020, Bovet released two new versions of the Amadeo Virtuoso VII that show once again how the brand strives to maintain design intent and continue pushing to achieve more with each model.

Bovet Amadeo Virtuoso VII
First released in May 2015, the Virtuoso VII has seen at least one limited edition update in the intervening years. And 2020 sees the launch of two new models that upgrade decoration and finishing, reminding me that Bovet brings its A-game to every launch.

With so many cool models every year, I never got around to covering the Virtuoso VII back then and it is long overdue: luckily Bovet decided to spark my memory by taking the model a bit further. And that is saying something for this piece.

The basis for the Virtuoso VII has to start with it being an Amadeo model, meaning it comes in the famous Bovet interchangeable case system that allows for the watch to be a pocket watch, a wristwatch, and, if desired, a small table clock.

Not to mention that with the Amadeo system, the wristwatch can be flipped over and worn with the “rear” facing out because it features dual-sided dials for a handful of possible configurations.

Even if there was nothing else interesting about the Virtuoso VII , being dual-sided is cool by itself. But that is only the beginning.
Since the Amadeo system isn’t restricted to just this model, what do we have specific to the Virtuoso VII? I’m glad you asked, dear imaginary reader!

The Virtuoso VII is, as previously mentioned, a dual-sided watch with both sides displaying the hours, minutes, and seconds. On what we might call the front there are center-mounted hours and minutes with a subsidiary seconds window at the bottom of the dial. Due to the overlap with the center dial it only displays zero through 20 seconds using a triple-spoked indicator tied to the fourth wheel.

On the opposite side is another display for the hours, minutes, and seconds, and, unusually, these seconds don’t run backward as you might expect.

The time subdial is offset above center at 12 o’clock; thanks to a reversing gear train, it runs the proper direction to keep things straight. Being offset means that the system doesn’t have to be stacked concentrically like a flat differential to make the direction change.

The seconds subdial is different and looks somewhat like a differential system when you look through the window to the movement. As the gears cascade through the movement, they change direction to maintain the clockwise motion on the other side.

Perpetual calendar anyone?
That takes care of the basics of the time display, so what else is there that makes the Virtuoso VII special? Well that would be the incredible and easy-to-read perpetual calendar encircling the central time dial on the “front” of the watch. Built on top of the main plate of Caliber 13BM12AIQPR (or as I have nicknamed it, the “smash the keyboard” caliber), the perpetual calendar mechanism is partially displayed behind a set of sapphire crystal disks that display the day, month, and leap year indications at 9, 3, and 12 o’clock respectively.

The date is displayed via a retrograde hand positioned concentrically around the center dial, arcing from 8 to 4 o’clock. Previously, this was a ring that had either white or black lacquer applied with the opposite color pad-printed for the numerals; the new versions have a circular brushed steel finish with black pad-printed numerals.

This is the same on both the green and red guilloche versions as well as the brushed blue-dial variation. That departs from the previous models as the ring was set to match the black or white lacquered portions of the dial, but on these models it is kept more in line with the movement aesthetic.

Most of the perpetual calendar mechanism is sadly still obscured beneath the central dial and date ring, but enough is visible to get a sense of what is going on. The sapphire crystal disks containing the day, month, and leap year indications use white pad printing for the letters and numerals, which then blend somewhat into the heavily finished and engraved movement below except for the selected indication.

These float above chamfered and polished quasi-bridge structures that are filled with black lacquer to provide a backdrop for the indications, helping them stand out visually for quick reading.

Thanks to these design choices, the highly complex mechanism below allows for a very user-friendly display, which is not always the case with complex high-end mechanics.
As a triangular pointer hovering between the central dial and the date ring, its arm and mechanism hidden, the retrograde date display also works at keeping things easy to read. Now you know I love a great retrograde mechanism and would always love it to be visible, but given the visual focus of the Virtuoso VII I can understand instead trying to bring focus to craftsmanship and decoration.

Having everything
Aesthetics define Bovet in my opinion: it’s a style that doesn’t simply focus on one or two aspects, but highlights everything if possible. It wants you to get all the things. This is also why the updated models benefit from even more complex finishing, because Bovet realized there were even more things that the Virtuoso VII could have.

In this case, it is a complex amalgamation of what appears to be two different spiraling guilloche patterns that represent the brand’s lotus flower symbol. A spiraling wave pattern diced up by a sunburst pattern, the dials and small decorative trim pieces further out present a stunningly vibrant aesthetic, thanks in large part to the translucent enamel on top of the pattern.

Available in either emerald green or ruby red, the guilloche dials take what was already a stunning watch and turn the volume up to 11. But what if you don’t want it turned up to 11?

That is what the rear side of the watch is for. Missing the extensive hand engraving across all of the bridges and plates, the “rear” of the watch, when worn flipped over, has a more technical look to it with the exposed balance, power reserve display, and a focus on the clean and simple gear train.
The more minimalist look is aided by the more traditional and ubiquitous Geneva stripes, circular graining, and snailing found on the visible components. The two carryovers from the front of the dial are the numerous blued screws and the guilloche dial giving the face a pop of color but in a more subdued fashion compared to the front.

But no matter which way you end up wearing or displaying the Virtuoso VII, there are details to fit a wide variety of moods.
The Virtuoso VII is a mighty impressive timepiece, although it’s hard to say it stands head and shoulders above the rest that Bovet offers because this brand’s lineup is chock full of examples that follow the same principles as this: namely giving a watch as much value with the details as possible.

The Virtuoso VII is a strong continuation of a history of excellence extending back over the centuries. Because of that commitment I am perpetually excited (see what I did there) to see what Bovet does next!

But first, the breakdown!