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Christophe Claret Aventicum

Marina Milojević | 03.03.15 | 09:40 AM

For BaselWorld 2015, Christophe Claret unveils the Aventicum timepiece, which pays homage to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Christophe Claret Aventicum is named after the capital of ancient Roman Helvetia, and the Avenches Roman Museum, which today presents the vestiges of the ancient Roman settlement. Because of the museum’s inadequate exhibition space, many of the ancient excavated objects cannot be appropriately exhibited to the public, so Christophe Claret dedicates its Aventicum-inspired timepiece to help raise awareness about the efforts of the Museum, and generate support from the Swiss government and public to construct a new building and help conserve the Museum’s heritage.

Christophe Claret Aventicum

The scientific excavations on this location were started in the 19th century, and many of the relics and precious Roman artifacts dating from the 1st century AD have already been discovered and preserved. Among them, the most prominent is the priceless solid gold bust of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, which was found in 1939. This treasure is one of only three known Roman busts of this style in the world, as other similar statues were probably melted down and reused over the centuries. A micro-engraved gold replica of the bust can be found in the center of this dedicatory timepiece, as an optical illusion known as the mirascope.

Christophe Claret Aventicum pink gold

The mirascope is a technique that was never before used in the history of watchmaking. It features a small-scale representation of the Marcus Aurelius golden bust, which appears magnified and as if it floats over the dial. The actual figurine measures three millimeters, but thanks to the system of two identical parabolic mirrors, the figure is displayed as a hologram of the object, appearing about two times larger than it really is. The mirrors are arranged one on top of the other, so that they create an elliptical shape. The convex mirror on top has a hole in the middle, so when an object is placed in the center of the concave bottom mirror, the reflection from the top one creates a realistic illusion that appears in an almost tangible form.

Christophe Claret Aventicum white gold

Another interesting detail is the traveling hands, shaped like ancient Roman stones. The hands are actually pointers that revolve on an invisible ring and around the perimeter of the dial, thus keeping the dial clean and allowing the mirascope to be the focal point of the watch. The hands, made of carbon microfiber, are labeled "M" for minutes and "H" for hours, while the numerals are, of course, Roman. The dial is ornamented with the labyrinthine motif, also known as meander, which is a decorative border constructed from a continuous line. The same decoration appears on the back of the watch, surrounding the sapphire-winding rotor.

Christophe Claret Aventicum pink gold

Christophe Claret Aventicum pink gold

The back side of the case reveals a glorious transparent sapphire-winding rotor of the automatic movement, which is decorated with five numbered Roman Gaul racing chariots, caught in the middle of the race. Whenever the wearer moves the watch while it is positioned horizontally, the chariots are started up, together with the rotor. The chariot that first finishes above the “A” of Aurèle (Aurelius), carved on the sideline, is the winner. The edge of the case-back is engraved with the Marcus Aurelius philosophical phrase: “Perfice Omnia facts vitae quasi haec postrema essent”, or “Perform every act in life as though it were your last.”

Christophe Claret Aventicum white gold

Christophe Claret Aventicum is produced in two limited editions. There are 68 pieces in 5N red gold and anthracite PVD-treated, grade 5 titanium; and 38 pieces in palladium-rich white gold and anthracite PVD-treated, grade 5 titanium. The movement inside of them both is the AVE15, automatic-winding mechanism, composed of 186 parts and 26 jewels. The movement beats at a frequency of 28’800 vph, has twin barrels, and provides around 72 hours of power reserve. Dimensions of the case are 44 x 52.11 x 18.49 mm, while its water resistance is rated at 30m.

The white gold model is priced at 53’000 CHF (ex VAT), while the red gold model retails at 49’000 CHF (ex VAT).

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