The OWO & House of Bovet Special Edition 19Thirty is a truly exclusive watch The OWO & House of Bovet Special Edition 19Thirty is a truly exclusive watch

The OWO & House of Bovet Special Edition 19Thirty is a truly exclusive watch

Fergus Nash

It’s not often I get to write about watches that can’t be bought, but occasionally there’s something special enough to warrant exploration. I have already delved deep into the history of Bovet, from their familial ancestry in Fleurier to their absolute dominance in 19th century Canton. Despite some struggles in the past, The House of Bovet are back to a place of stability and grandiosity while situated in the idyllic Château de Môtiers in Fleurier. Not only do they have an established place in Swiss and Chinese history, but Bovet have also returned to making a mark in London with the help of the new OWO development. The OWO & House of Bovet Special Edition 19Thirty almost redefines the word exclusive, but its attention to detail is impeccable.

If you haven’t heard of The OWO before, then chances are you just haven’t come across its reinvention from being The Old War Office Building in London. A mere stone’s throw away from Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street, the building was most notably used as a headquarters by Winston Churchill during WWII. Other notable occupants have been T.E. Lawrence and Sir Ian Flemming, while the site itself used to be the Palace of Whitehall which housed all English monarchs between 1530-1698, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Although it’s been closed to the public since its completion in 1906, the newly renovated, refurbished and repurposed OWO brings Edwardian luxury into the 21st century as a collection of private residences, hotel rooms, restaurants, bars, and spas.

Bovet 1822 were displaying watches at the Monaco Grand Prix when the Hindujah Group — a transnational conglomerate encompassing almost every industry — were searching for an official timekeeper. Along with a 49% stake from the Dubai-based Onex Holding company, Hindujah embarked on the project of creating The OWO as London’s first Raffles Hotel and residences. A special edition from Bovet would never be as simple as a co-signed dial or a limited colour however, as Bovet team members visited The OWO during construction to bring back inspiration for the design of the watch. Intended as a gift for the owners of the 10 grandest private properties in the building, the Bovet Special Edition 19Thirty is inseparable from the historic location.

The case of The OWO & Bovet Special Edition 19Thirty is made from 18K red gold that instantly puts your mind into a classical state of thought, which is then backed up by the unique approach to the lug design. Evoking the look of an ornate pocket watch, the circular case terminates with a flat bar at its base, similarly to a Cartier Pasha. The top lug accommodates the onion crown and a decorated arch known as “the Bovet bow” where a chain might have gone were it actually a pocket watch, depicting stippled the ‘marble shell’ motif much like the fireplaces and moldings throughout The OWO. Hand-engraved onto the side of the case is a pattern known as “egg dart”, just another hallmark of The OWO’s decorative architecture. The diameter of the watch is 42mm, but the hinging lugs do give it a lot more wrist versatility than that measurement would normally imply. The 9mm thickness is further proof of its refinement, and Bovet’s watchmaking skill.

While the case is undoubtedly a work of art, we can’t ignore the centrepiece of the dial. Presented in gold on a background of royal blue is a gorgeous floral display, referencing the Rose Ceiling which can be seen above The OWO’s Grand Staircase. Slightly overlapping this is a small seconds subdial, gracefully boasting the movement’s seven-day power reserve. To the left and right of the centre dial are two windows that also reference the watch’s power. A power reserve indicator is easy to read in the 9 o’clock display, while the 3 o’clock display is actually a window to the mainspring barrel. As you wind the watch manually, you can see the printed floral design rotate. Surrounding these two details are two halves of a French phrase, which roughly translates to “Made with the hands of masters to serve punctual gentlemen”. All of these elements are floating in a gorgeous rippled guilloché that emanates from the small seconds subdial, and is also toned grey for contrast.

Powering The OWO & Bovet Special Edition 19Thirty is the calibre 15BM04 which has served the 19Thirty collection since its introduction in 2015. It achieves the seven-day power reserve through a single large barrel and beat rate of 21,600 vibrations per hour, but perhaps more impressive is its appearance. Filling up the entire display caseback of the 42mm watch, the 15BM04 takes inspiration from the gigantic pocket watch movements of the last 200 years. With this much surface area, Bovet’s finishing ability is able to truly shine without the need for a loupe. Inscribed into the bezel that surrounds the caseback sapphire is a quote from Winston Churchill, stating “We Shape Our Dwellings, and Afterwards Our Dwellings Shape Us”.

The OWO & House of Bovet Special Edition 19Thirty pricing and availability:

The OWO & House of Bovet Special Edition 19Thirty is limited to 10 pieces, and will be given as gifts to the buyers of The OWO’s most luxurious private residences.

Brand Bovet
Model The OWO & House of Bovet Special Edition 19Thirty
Case Dimensions 42mm x 9mm
Case Material 18k Red gold
Water Resistance 30m
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Blue and grey
Strap Leather
Movement 15BM04
Power Reserve 7 days
Availability Limited to 10 pieces
Price Given to the buyers of The OWO’s most luxurious private residences.