Recently Harry Winston celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the Opus collection of high complication, high interest men's watches. The founder of the Opus concept was Max Busser, now of MB&F. Opus timepieces always represented high-luxury forward thinking complex watches that allow even mature enthusiast watch lovers to be in awe of the creations. Opus timepieces are always attractive, innovative, and often just slightly outside the reach of what is technically possible with mechanical timepieces.
A great example is the Opus 3. A legend in the Opus collection because no one has ever soon one working. Why? Because until recently they did not. Christmas comes late, quite late for the people who purchased all 50 of the limited edition Opus 3 watch collection. Designer Vianney Halter, who created the piece for Harry Winston, is a widely considered a genius, but never quite got the Opus 3 to work.
Now seven years later and the Opus 3 is finally in production. In fact, the 50 pieces just started to go into production at the end of August 2010. It took that long to get the watch to work properly, and the credit goes to master watch making house Renaud & Papi (APRP). The problem was that the many discs needed enormous amounts of power to move, as sometimes they all needed to move at the same time. This is a serious issues for mainspring style watches, even when a constant force escapement is utilized. The answer? A special secondary barrel used specifically for turning the discs. When the wearer winds the wind, their action is winding both barrels at the same time, but the secondary barrel only releases power when the discs need to move (not to the escapement regulation system to tell the time).
You can see the image here of the Opus 3 movement being worked on. I snapped the image while visiting Renaud & Papi. The movement is placed in a holder as it is being assembled and tested. It will later be cased. How is time told on the Opus 3? Well there are three columns of numerals, and it is read from the top down, in 24 hour time. The middle column with red numerals is the date. So the time in the upper watch would be 11:07. The Harry Winston Opus 3 might be sold out (was sold out years ago). Customers who paid deposits on the watches weren't offered refunds as I understand it, but were given assurances (for 7 years) that the Opus 3 was not forgotten. Harry Winston kept its promise, and the 25 gold and 25 platinum pieces should be delivered relatively soon. We will see what the reaction to the completed Opus 3 watches are, and if it was worth the wait. Harry Winston recently announced the Opus X, which will also be delivered relatively soon.
Movement image and text by Ariel Adams