Agenhor, and the many movements of the Genevan complication masters (Part 2)Borna Bošnjak
Movement masters Agenhor have had their fingers in so many pies that one article can’t cover all of their unique takes on complications. We’ve already looked at their involvement with the likes of Arnold & Son and Harry Winston, and today explore their involvement with Fabergé, Hermès, MB&F, Parmigiani Fleurier and Van Cleef & Arpels. For a quick bit of background info – Agenhor can be proud of 9 GPHG awards, winning the first more than 10 years after their 1996 beginnings. The Atelier Genevois d’Horlogerie, was founded by Jean-Marc and Catherine Wiederrecht, and is now led by their sons Nicolas and Laurent.
Fabergé Compliquée Peacock
We begin with a brand that’s likely more synonymous with jewellery than watches, yet the Fabergé brand has many impressive horological creations on offer. After a rather tumultuous history, including the appearance of the Fabergé name on toilet-cleaning products due to copyright disputes, the maison recuperated under one name in 2007, introducing the first line of fine watches in 2015. One of those was the Fabergé Compliquée Peacock. Inspired by a Fabergé creation dubbed the Peacock Egg from 1908, the watch features a unique display, all encrusted with jewels. Thanks to the hand-wound Calibre 6901, courtesy of Agenhor, the time indication consists of a spinning mother-of-pearl ring for the hours, and fanning peacock feathers that indicate minutes – it’s 11:30 on the example above. Confirming that this watch is truly remarkable and more than just a smattering of diamonds, tsavorites and tourmalines, it was awarded the GPHG prize in the Hi-Mechanical category.
Hermès Temps Suspendu
The Hermès Temps Suspendu is a bit of a tricky customer. Not because it’s outlandishly ugly, unwearable or unpleasant in any way, rather that its headlining “suspended time” complication is just a bit… useless? The original that we’re mentioning here, with an Agenhor complication module on top of a bog-standard ETA and the smaller in-house version that came a few years later both operate identically. Press the pusher at o’clock, and the hour and minute hands align themselves in a V-shape that fits within the grained portion of the dial surrounding the 12 o’clock marker. While in that position, the movement keeps track of time, and once you press the button again, the hands jump ahead to the correct time. When first reading about it, my response was “cool story, bro”, but my opinion has changed ever so slightly since. That’s thanks to Jean-Marc Wiederrecht who himself admits that this watch is just a fancy, mechanical toy after all, so why not? And in some ways, I’m forced to agree. It’s not like Agenhor and Hermès don’t have other, more useful, and admittedly cooler, complications in store. So why not indeed.
MB&F HM3 Frog
If the Hermès Temps Suspendu was a “why not” creation, I wonder what the brief for the creation of the HM3 Frog was, though I can say that it perfectly encapsulates the MB&F mindset. The movement in the Frog, as well as the sapphire-cased FrogX pictured above, is the same Girard-Perregaux-based calibre, turned upside down and fitted with the signature battle axe rotor on the dial side – or face, as I think is appropriate to say here. The beautifully hand-decorated bridges hold two ceramic bearings that translate power to the black domes that indicate hours and minutes, at the same time forging the bulging frog eyes.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF GMT
This has to be my personal favourite of any Agenhor creation. The ultimate stealth wealth travel watch, the Tonda PF GMT hides its genius behind a minimal grain d’orge guilloché dial, free of any date apertures or second time zone subdials. No, the way the Tonda PF GMT goes about its, um, GMT functionality is much more clever than that. By activating the buttery-smooth pusher integrated into the bottom left lug, the skeletonised white gold hour hand jumps ahead by an hour, leaving behind a previously hidden rose-gold hand indicating home time. Advance it as far as you deem necessary, and when you’ve completed your jet-setting adventures, the two hour hands unite again by the pusher integrated into the crown, with a gliding motion of the white-gold hour hand. It’s an absolutely remarkable tactile experience, and one that saddened me, as I’m never likely to experience it again. The true genius is in the Agenhor-developed movement, with several patents for this rattrapante-like operation, a true beauty with its solid gold micro-rotor and bevelled bridges.
Van Cleef & Arpels Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs
Another brand more commonly known for their high-end jewellery is Van Cleef & Arpels, but like many players in that space, it also has a line of high-end timepieces. Between all the automatons and astronomic complications, the rather simple looking, regulator-like visage of the Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs hides a unique take on a dual time complication, the name itself is a clue to the function of the watch, translating to “time here and time elsewhere”. The platinum micro-rotor equipped automatic movement features a double jump hour digital display, as well as a retrograde minute indicator between 5 and 10 o’clock, developed specially for Van Cleef & Arpels, as Agenhor’s usual way of adding a module on top of an existing movement wasn’t possible. The challenge was getting both hour apertures to jump at exactly the same time, at the top of the hour, as the minute hand jumps back to zero in a retrograde action.