Timepieces have traditionally been about conveying the time while hiding the sophisticated operations occurring behind the scenes to keep that time. But for their Opus 12 watch, manufacturer Harry Winston and master watchmaker Emmanuel Bouchet created something very different: A watch that celebrates mechanical motion, and even provides a little visual treat every hour on the hour.
While it initially seems complicated, it's easier to tell the time on this watch than I thought it'd be. I'll explain using the photo directly above. The blue tines are the hands, with the slightly shorter one being the hour hand. Together the hands give you the rough time, which here looks to be 10:10. But the little dial in the center contains finer gradations of five minutes, so it is actually 10:12, going on 10:13.
What's wicked is what happens every time the watch goes from x:59 to y:00. Check it out:
If you still don't get what's going on, this video review of the watch may shed some light:
The inspiration for the design of the Opus 12, by the way, is as unconventional as the watch itself:
Opus 12 defies the conventional rules of watchmaking, giving birth to the most improbable mechanical concept. This exceptional timepiece deliberately overturns the perception of time by drawing its inspiration from the Copernican revolution according to which the earth rotates around the sun and around itself.
Time no longer reads via a pair of hands positioned in the center of the dial, but by the peripheral drive of 12 pairs of hands going from the circumference to the center. The hands, pointed towards the interior draw attention to the center of time. A retrograde hand, synchronized with the main minuteshand, advances along a five-minute sector. At the end of its travel it flies back to its initial position while the long five-minutes hand pivots and sets itself still.
Before you go and put this on your next birthday wish list, realize that they're only making 120 of these—at $260,000 a pop. I wonder if Copernicus could get his head around those numbers.
See also: A Steampunk Watch Powered by Wireless Induction