When the Bovet brothers founded the Maison in 1822, the timepieces they manufactured instantly became undisputed references in the watchmaking decorative arts. The presence of BOVET watches in specialist watchmaking and art museums attests to the enduring longevity of this supremacy. Today, the BOVET craftsmen strive to honor this heritage by perpetuating their expertise and constantly pushing back the boundaries of excellence. The same unstinting quest for perfection also inspired Pascal Raffy to equip in 2006 BOVET 1822 with its own manufactures: BOVET 1822 Manufacture de Cadrans and DIMIER 1738 Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Artisanale, where every technique is deployed with unrivalled mastery and the choice of noble materials continues to expand. This year, the BOVET collections feature two materials which the artisans of the House have been mastering and proposing since 2008. Their captivating appearance and richly symbolic origins are guaranteed to fascinate.
The origins of aventurine are as terrestrial as they come: it is a transformation of the silica contained in sand and most minerals used to make the glass that serves as a basis for the delicate fabrication of aventurine itself. To explore the origins of this artisanal composition, we need to travel back to the 17th century. It was in Murano, the capital of artistic glassware, that the first “recipes” emerged, which have been secretly preserved for years by the Miotti family, who are credited with its invention. To create aventurine, tinted glass is combined with copper and protoxide of copper inclusions, whose triangular and hexagonal crystals blaze with a thousand sparkles. The composition and manufacture of aventurine are empirical processes, and only an experienced, expert artisan can obtain a homogenous result. This is why aventurine remains a rare material that cannot be produced in large quantities. Aventurine features the translucence of glass, studded with tiny copper highlights that seem to float freely within it. Although it is a processed material, the aesthetic qualities of aventurine have helped it find favor with jewelers and even gemologists, who have labeled it “goldstone” in English and “rivière d’or” (“river of gold”) in French. The name aventurine itself is attributed to its discovery following a chance incident one day during which copper filings fell accidentally (all’avventura) into a crucible of molten glass. These days, the material is also often referred to as “stellaria” because of its obvious resemblance to a starry sky.
This same starry sky is the origin of the second material highlighted this year by BOVET 1822’s dial-makers, who showcase meteorite in several of the models in the 2017 collection. While a considerable number of meteorites fall to Earth each year, less than 2% of them belong to the “irons” category that can be used in watchmaking. And unfortunately, very few of them are large enough to provide enough material for a dial. The total weight of meteorites found on Earth that can be used for watchmaking is estimated at just a few dozen kilograms. This kind of meteorite comes from the nuclei of large celestial bodies (of at least several hundred kilometers in diameter). The variety from which BOVET dials are made comes from Namibia and is known as Gibeon meteorite (after the town nearest the discovery site). Its weight before crashing to Earth is estimated at 26 tons. Many hundreds of kilograms have been found scattered in various fragments since its discovery in 1838, but very few of these can be exploited for watchmaking purposes. Ferrous meteorites consist of iron and nickel, while Gibeon also contains cobalt and phosphorus in minute quantities. The temperatures experienced by a ferrous meteorite when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere coupled with the speed at which it cools produce unique geometric crystalline structures. These structures, referred to as Widmanstätten patterns, give each meteorite its unique appearance and identity. Once meteorite has been machined, it is polished then plunged into an acid bath to reveal these characteristic patterns.
As for the Gibeon meteorite, we know that it crashed to Earth in prehistoric times. While specialists are unable to pinpoint its arrival with any precision, we do know that it is 4 billion years old – just like our very own solar system. In the 20th century, physicists addressed the notion of space-time and explored the inextricable links between the fourth dimension (time) and the three that govern space. Throughout the centuries, the origins of meteorites have fascinated scientists, philosophers, entire cultures, religious scholars and physicists alike, and have revealed to us the infinite nature of time and space. Many believe that this material is nothing less than proof of eternity.