Night sky is one of the most majestic and stunning phenomena of the world around us. Driven by curiosity, humanity has always tried to understand the principle behind the motion of galactic bodies. The oldest of the currently known astronomical instruments — a 30 cm bronze disc with gold accents symbolizing the sun, the moon, and 32 stars — dates back to the 17th century BC.
Unique pocket piece, made in the early twentieth century by Patek Philippe for an American banker named Henry Graves, immediately went down in history of watchmaking. It took three years to develop the project; the production itself took five more years. With its twenty-four features, including a perpetual calendar, sunrise and sunset times, the Supercomplication was considered the most complicated handmade watch in the world for over fifty years. A bizarre design of the dial that exactly reproduces a celestial map of New York as seen from Graves’s apartment on Fifth Avenue made this timepiece truly legendary. The record was beaten only in 1989, when Patek Philippe released the Patek Philippe Calibre 89. However, the Supercomplication remains the most complicated mechanical watch built without the assistance of computers.
The timepiece continues the Trilogy of time series by Ludwig Oechslin. Despite the word moon in the name, main designing elements are focused on the Earth’s disk which looks as it would be seen if you were looking from above the North Pole. While the disk is static, the motion is achieved by rotation of the Sun and the Moon. Other functions on the watch include a GMT indicator disc. You can quickly adjust the time zone, and be aware of the global dynamics of tides. Ulysse Nardin engineers are especially proud of the moonphase indicator which only requires adjustment once in 100,000 years.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
COMPLICATION POETIQUE MIDNIGHT PLANETARIUM
Complication Poetique Midnight Planetarium is a result of collaboration between Van Cleef & Arpels and Christiaan van der Klaauw – an independent Dutch watchmaker known for his astrolabes and planetariums. Aventurine dial represents a miniature version of the Solar system precisely reproducing the movement of the heavenly bodies: Mercury makes a complete orbital cycle around our star in 88 days, Venus in 224, Earth in 365, Mars in 687, Jupiter in 12 years, Saturn in 29 years. The Sun is made of gold, other planets of semi-precious stones. A shooting star serves as an hour hand.
PORTUGIESER SIDERALE SCAFUSIA
It took IWC Schaffhausen engineering team 10 years to create this flagship timepiece. Portugieser Siderale Scafusia first appeared in public in the central part of Chile’s Atacama Desert at Cerro Paranal, not far from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and its Very Large Telescope. The watch is equipped with a constant force tourbillon, sidereal time indicator, perpetual calendar, and indicators for 96-hour power reserve, sunrise, and sunset. The entire surface of the backside is reserved for the individual astrolabe (an instrument used to determine latitude, one of the oldest astronomical tools) which shows a part of the sky with the image of more than 500 stars and constellations upon the customer’s choice.
Astralis Moon is a unique piece representing the Moon, the Earth’s only known natural satellite and the fifth largest satellite in our Solar System. Keeping up the Astralis series DNA, parts of four real meteorites (Dhofar 459, Itqiy, Sahara 99555, and Jiddat al Harasis 479) were used to create its planetarium. They symbolize such important galactic bodies as Mars, Mercury, the Sun and, of course, the Moon. The last one is made of Dhofar 459 which is considered the most beautiful of all known meteorites. The extraterrestrial quartet is located on the aventurine disk which makes a complete rotation every 24 hours.
JACOB & CO.
At first glance, a new model from Jacob & Co. seems to be the most complex astronomical watch in history. However, at this stage Astronomia Tourbillon is still a prototype developed – as the company states – primarily for aesthetic pleasure. Its tourbillon moves around the entire dial each 20 minutes. Two of its arms have a small hand-painted titanium representation of earth, and its opposite arm has a rotating disco ball, representing the Moon, that makes one full rotation each 60 seconds.Jacob & Co. claims that the spherically cut diamond uses an exclusive cutting process debuted by Jacob & Co. to cut a diamond with 288 facets.
CHRISTIAAN VAN DER KLAAUW
Dutch guru of astronomical watches decided to release twelve unique timepieces based on his famous Planetarium timepiece – one for each sign of the Zodiac. Aquarius Planetarium is equipped with the world’s smallest heliocentric planetarium. It reflects rotation orbits of the Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn around the Sun. Centrally positioned are the hour, minute, and seconds hand and to the lower right corner there is a month indicator. The case is made of platinum and measures 40 mm in diameter, and is fitted with a sapphire crystal on both sides. Hand engraving has been done by Kees Engelbarts – a renowned expert in this area.
ARNOLD & SON
GRAND MOON TOURBILLON
The design of Grand Moon Tourbillon is built around the most realistic and accurate (both from visual and computational points of view) moonphase calendar. Retrograde indication system repeats all the movements of our satellite in detail, and its complete cycle corresponds to the interval between two new moons. Dark blue dial, inlaid with diamonds, creates the illusion of a night sky and hides the A1769 movement with manual winding and a power reserve of 96 hours. An elegant tourbillon is located at the 6 o’clock position.
GRAND COMPLICATIONS 6102 CELESTIAL
The Grand Complications 6102 Celestial Sky Moon Tourbillion looks very similar to the Sky Moon Tourbillion. However, it does not yield to the more complicated model, and even has a number of exclusive tricks up itssleeve. The dial layout has been simplified by combining the map of the night sky (from the perspective of the northern hemisphere) and the indication of normal time. Engineers at Patek Philippe created a structure of three sapphire discs for the image of celestial dome: transparent – with the image of the Milky Way, small one – with the phases of the Moon, and blue one – with an aperture which determines the orbit of the Earth’s satellite. These discs are superimposed on each other and rotate at a different speed.
RECITAL 18 SHOOTING STAR WATCH
Bovet releases several very high-end watches every year, but the timepiece presented at SIHH 2016 stands out from any crowd. When the crown is released, the cities pointer mounted on a special roller, is set in motion, and the hand above the hemisphere in the form of the globe shows you the time in the selected region. This is a fairly clever and complex solution that is controlled by a column wheel, and a great way to save space. The model is also equipped with a moon phase indicator with independent indications for the northern and southern hemispheres.
MASTER GRANDE TRADITION GRANDE COMPLICATION
Released in a limited edition of only eight pieces, the watch with an exclusive movement JLC945 was first presented at the SIHH exhibition in 2015. The timepiece is notable for its detailed map of the starry sky of the northern hemisphere with the zodiac signs on it corresponding to constellation’s stance at any time of the year. The Sun, rotating along the edge of the dial, shows the usual time. This technical mastery is ensconced with 294 baguette-cut diamonds, totaling 19.8 karats. The watch features three major complications: a minute repeater, a flying Tourbillon, and an elaborate zodiac calendar. These round out the image of one of the most exclusive astronomical mechanisms.
Timeline 134 BC - Greek astronomer Hipparchus compiled a catalog of 850 stars, dividing them into six classes by brightness. 46 BC - The Julian calendar, developed by the Alexandrian astronomer named Sosigenes, was introduced in use by the order of Julius Caesar. 1543 - Nicolaus Copernicus, polish astronomer and mathematician, published a scientific work called Commentariolus and De revolutionibus orbium coelestium ("On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres") in which he formulated the basic principles of the heliocentric model of the universe. 1608 - Three Dutchmen — Hans Lippershey, Zacharias Janssen, and Jacob Metius — independently tried to obtain a patent for a new invention — "perspective glass.” A year later, Galileo Galilei became interested in the technology, and subsequently managed to upgrade his telescope to 32 times magnification. 1783 - John Michell, an English clergyman and natural philosopher, suggested the existence of black holes. 1834 - Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel, German astronomer, proved the absence of the atmosphere on the Moon. 1859-1862 - Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen developed spectral analysis method which allowed studying the chemical composition of extraterrestrial objects.
Beginning of the 1920s - Edwin Hubble calculated the distance to the Andromeda Galaxy and proved that our galaxy was not the only one in the universe. 1961 - Yuri Gagarin's flight into space. 1969 - Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr.) stepped onto the lunar surface. 1971 - Soft Landing of the Mars 3 orbital station on the Red Planet. 1990 - NASA launched Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. During all this time, it made about one million images which served as the basis for 9000 scientific articles. Mid 1990. - It became possible to calculate the coefficient that determined the rate of expansion of the universe with an accuracy of a few percent based on the readings of the Hubble Space Telescope.