Harry Winston Opus 14: the jukebox complication
Since 2001 the Opus series by Harry Winston has been a guarantee for very surprising, perhaps even baffling haute horlogerie creations. The Harry Winston Opus 14 enthusiastically continues the exuberant tradition of astonishing complications. And what’s more, this highly complicated watch is rock ‘n’ roll personified.
The English afficionado in the casino of Baden-Baden was a serious collector. The 19th-century hall in the sophisticated resort had been converted into an American diner from the Fabulous Fifties for the occasion; a style that was perfectly in tune with the design of the Opus 14. The wrist of the watch collector was graced by a platinum Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon I. Not a watch to be sniffed at. In reply to the question what he thought of the Opus 14 he answered frankly: “I don’t consider it a watch but a piece of jewellery. In my eyes it is a technical piece of men’s jewellery. An automaton for the wrist. I am extremely impressed by the technology and the thought behind the watch, but I personally find it a pity that it is almost unwearable for me. I collect watches but I get even more enjoyment from wearing them. Watches are made to be worn and enjoyed at any time of the day.”
Granted, the Opus 14 may not entirely fit West European tastes if we take a London collector as the standard, but fortunately there is a world beyond that. Particularly the well-informed and fanatical collectors with an adventurous bent that we find in the Far East are not put off by a crazy complication in a sizeable jacket. With its 57.4mm white gold case, which has a height of 21.9mm, the Opus 14 can compare itself to the immensely popular nouvelle horlogerie creations of brands like Urwerk, MB&F and HYT based on its size alone. And that’s before we talk about the 1,066 components that make a very original complication possible. Let’s talk about that now. The Opus 14 is the first in the series that was produced under the supervision of new owners Swatch Group. The project was already underway when Harry Winston was annexed by the watch conglomerate. Which didn’t change the fact that Nayla Hayek, Harry Winston’s CEO, and Marc Hayek, the big boss at Blancpain, immediately fell in love with the idea of watchmakers Franck Orny and Johnny Girardin of Telos Watch. The basic concept of the Opus 14 is the automaton complication that works like a jukebox from the heyday of rock ‘n’ roll. Four small discs – singles really, except smaller – that appear on demand, reveal the local time, Greenwich meantime, the date or a stylised star with the signature of Mr. Harry Winston, a reference to the stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Time for a single
The hours can be read on the disc that is on permanent display and the retrograde minutes are displayed separately. A push on the pushbutton at 4 o’clock activates an arm that picks up a disc and carries it to the platform in the top right-hand corner of the watch. The different functionalities can be selected using a slide on the left side of the case. It takes five seconds to pull out the ‘single’ and three seconds to put it away. The movement of the patented calibre HW4601 uses two separate spring barrels for the automaton and for the time display. The power reserve of the time component is an amazing 68 hours and the power in the other spring barrel guarantees five actions of the jukebox mechanism. The design of all this can best be described as Americana. The eye-catching colours of vintage diners in characteristic red, white and blue, the Opus 14 logo that is reminiscent of the signs marking the famous Route 66 and of course the basic theme of the jukebox are American through and through. It is a wonderful reference to the American roots of jeweller Harry Winston. The design may not appeal to everyone, but that has been the same for every Opus so far; they have always been too extreme to be universally liked. But those who fancy a piece of rock ’n roll horology will have to dig deep in their pockets and come up with more than just coins, as the price of the limited edition of fifty Opus 14’s will exceed 400,000 euro.
Watch the introductory video Harry Winston created for the Opus 14.