ArtyA Tiny Purity Tourbillon NanoSaphir ChameleonFergus Nash
For years, sapphire watch cases have represented the pinnacle of luxury craftsmanship. It might not be a rare material, especially now it can be grown in a lab, but it remains as the second-hardest on Earth. That means the machining requires specialist equipment and a lot of maintenance, which is never going to be cheap. ArtyA have been impressing us recently with releases like the AquaSaphir, proving that you don’t need to spend six figures to get a high-end sapphire watch in your collection, though with their latest release, they’re proving that “affordable” sapphire isn’t the only thing in their arsenal. The new ArtyA Tiny Purity Tourbillon NanoSaphir Chameleon introduces a whole new kind of case concept, with the sapphire being “treated on a molecular level”, according to ArtyA, in a secret process that results in unique light play.
To be clear, no pun intended, ArtyA aren’t just another microbrand cutting corners to get flashy complications into cheaper watches. They’re an independent force for experimentation and artistic expression, where watches serve as the medium. The ArtyA Tiny Purity Tourbillon NanoSaphir Chameleon might look like quite a cool watch in an interesting colour from a single picture, but the real genius is when it moves in the light. Here, the sapphire case has been treated with a secret process that allows it to change colour depending on the lighting conditions. This isn’t the same as any other dial which may dull or pop when it moves between light, but the colour completely shifts. At its darkest in natural, warm colour temperatures, the case is a dusky orange-brown that’s reminiscent of amber – only missing an encased, prehistoric mosquito to complete the look. When exposed to brighter and cooler-toned light, it lights up in an electric lime-green. Colour-changing sapphires do occur naturally, though exceedingly rarely, and their colour-shifting properties are usually restricted to only a slight change between blue and purple.
Ordinarily, a colour-changing sapphire case would be more than enough to make a watch interesting – I mean come on, when is the last time you saw something like that? ArtyA, however, are clearly not satisfied easily, and they’ve gone ahead and outfitted it with an impressive movement as well. The name Tiny Purity is a reference to their previous Purity Tourbillon model, which measured a whopping 46mm in diameter. The twin-barrel flying tourbillon calibre has now been completely overhauled in collaboration with Télôs Watch, who have worked with the likes of Cvstos, Harry Winston and Montblanc, to shrink the watch down to a manageable 39mm. That said, the tourbillon cage still measures in at 17mm wide, making it an even grander eye-catcher, shimmering away with the bevelled surfaces of its tri-pronged cage. The cage seemingly floats alone on the left side of the skeleton dial, while the dauphine hour and minute hands can be read above the other stacked components. Overall, there’s a lot of space for light to be let through and for the case to do its thing.
The headlines can certainly be distracting with a watch like this, but the small print doesn’t disappoint either. Tourbillon watches usually beat slower than the Swiss standard of 28,800vph for durability and longevity, but the ArtyA Tiny Purity Tourbillon NanoSaphir Chameleon happily ticks away at 4Hz for a smoother sweep. The two barrels, which can be viewed above and below the hands, contribute to a 72-hour power supply. You wouldn’t expect to go swimming with a watch like this, but the 30 metres of water resistance does grant some peace of mind when washing your hands or being out in the rain – though we’d still advise slipping into something a bit more water-resistant for those scuba escapades. The caseback is made from the same NanoSaphir as the case, tinting the view of the new movement and consolidating the overall look.
ArtyA Tiny Purity Tourbillon NanoSaphir Chameleon pricing and availability
The ArtyA Tiny Purity Tourbillon NanoSaphir Chameleon is a piece unique created for the Best Men’s Complication category at 2023’s GPHG, though also available in several other colours. Price: US$179,000
|Model||Tiny Purity Tourbillon NanoSaphir Chameleon|
|Case Dimensions||39mm (D)|
|Case Material||Colour-changing sapphire|
|Water Resistance||30 metres|
|Movement||Tiny Purity, tourbillon, hand-wound, 4Hz|
|Power Reserve||72 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, tourbillon|
|Availability||GPHG piece unique, other colours available|