Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Theater of Time: Harry Winston Opus 14

The watch is essentially a two timezoner with date and power reserve indicators. So, why does the manual winding calibre HW4601 have 1,066 components to achieve such prosaic results?

Nov 24, 2015 | By Ashok Soman

Revealed earlier this year, the Harry Winston Opus 14 is both insanely complicated and unbelievably simple. We will be looking more in-depth into this latest Opus in the upcoming issue of WOW in Singapore (and perhaps elsewhere in the world too) but ahead of that, we bring you a short introduction. In terms of functions, the watch is essentially a two timezoner with date and power reserve indicators. So, why does the manual winding calibre HW4601 have 1,066 components to achieve such prosaic results? The answer lies in the watch’s unique automaton, which mimics the workings of an object most people have never experienced, the jukebox.

OPUS 14 - CLOSEUP - ON BLACK

The Opus 14 automaton is a massively complicated system of mobile disks, which can be manipulated by an arm, on demand. The jukebox, in fact, worked much like this. You would drop some coins in, select a song via some buttons and the machine would pull the appropriate record out of a stack and drop it into place, whereupon it played a single track. In the case of the Opus 14, the date and GMT displays are the ‘tracks’ available on demand; local time and both power reserve indicators (for the movement and for the automaton) are always displayed. A push-piece at 4 o’clock activates the automaton while a three-position lever at 9 o’clock enables the selection of displays.

OPUS 14 - BACK - ON BLACK-r50

Now to me, as a journalist, this is good fun and makes for great story fodder, for which this story is exhibit A (the forthcoming column is exhibit B). If a watch is something to interact with, to play with if you will, Opus 14 delivers. The novelty value is enormous. On the other hand, this is also a completely crazy timepiece with an undeniable frivolity about it. The third mobile disk emphasizes this aspect because it just shows a star with the signature of Mr Harry Winston; that is a lot of mechanical effort, with plenty of opportunities for something to go wrong, for no functional reason whatsoever.

OPUS 14 - ON BLACK

Opus 14 will have value only to a very select group of collectors; most people will not even be able to appreciate the beauty of the engineering here and might even think it is a toy watch. Nevertheless, as far as that theatrical “vaudeville” value goes, it is beyond compare. One can only hope that watchmaking will always have place for crazy fun like this.

OPUS 14 - SIDE - ON BLACK

Specs

  • Dimensions: 54.7mm x 21.9mm
  • Functions: Hours by disk, minutes by retrograde hand, GMT by disk (on demand), calendar on disk (on demand), HW signature disk (on demand), animation power reserve by disk, movement power reserve by aperture
  • Power reserve: Timekeeping up to 68 hours; up to 5 back and forth motions on the animation function
  • Movement: Mechanical, manual-winding, dual-barrel, silicon balance spring, calibre HW4601
  • Water resistance: 30 meters
  • Material: 18k white gold
 
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