Thomas Mercer and Linley have announced the launch of Aquilo, a multi-complicated timekeeper that fuses their respective disciplines in marine chronometry and cabinet-making to create a unique horological furniture.
Founded by David Linley in 1985 with the aim of designing and manufacturing furniture of the highest quality, Linley enjoys today a world-renowned reputation for blending innovative design with superlative cabinet-making. A passion for people, design and the pursuit of excellence continues to be the driving force of the business and Linley has grown from private commissions to retail furniture, gifts and accessories, interior design, fitted kitchens and cabinetry. Epitomising quintessential British style, each Linley piece stands for inventiveness, meticulous attention to detail, ingenuity, creative spirit, eccentricity, sophistication, wit and charm.
Established in London 1858, Thomas Mercer is a name forever synonymous with the Marine Chronometer, the instrument invented in the 18th century to determine longitude at sea. With a dashing heritage that includes the timekeepers equipping the Royal Yacht Britannia as well as those used by Sir Ernest Shackleton and Sir Francis Chichester during their legendary feats of sailing, today the company proudly upholds the tradition of British clock-making by manufacturing fine chronometers that grace the interiors of the world’s most exclusive yachts and residences.
Meaning North in Latin and evoking the eponymous star, the name Aquilo celebrates the link between chronometry and astronomy, observation of the stars being at the foundation of both timekeeping and navigation. British Horology reached its zenith in the XVIII century with both the invention of the marine chronometer – the instrument that solved the problem of longitude determination in open seas – and the creation of some of the most extraordinary astronomical timepieces ever made in history. With its sophisticated astronomical movement encased in a cabinet of the utmost refinement, the Aquilo is thus designed to appeal to customers who value pedigree and lineage, handcrafted quality and peerless design.
The design of this stunning, streamlined piece is inspired by the bow of a yacht and its cabinet, made from slip match blue eucalyptus with a streak of solid oxidised oak, has several details which evoke the sea, such as the subtle la rose des vents engraved into the base. The base has a mirror set into the surface so the movement can be reflected thereon.
The mechanism is housed in a case made from marine-grade stainless steel offering an all-around view of the inner workings which can be admired in their entirety, from every angle, free from distortion thanks to a set of extra-white crystals. The elegant open-work dial magnifies the intricacies of the multi-complicated movement and replicates the same veneer found in the cabinet. Its counters feature numerals finely obtained through a bas-relief technique, and the hands are steel-made, hand-finished with bluing technique.
The case is mounted on a set of gimbals, a trait distinctive of marine chronometers. They can either be blocked or freed to let the clock keep an even keel with the surface of the Earth (a condition of its accuracy). Once unlocked, they let the observer twist and take a peek at the movement, although its sheer weight makes it a delicate operation. The timekeeper is hand wound by a turnkey, inspired by the winch on the boat, and stored within the piece.
To mark the launch of the Aquilo, Thomas Mercer introduces for the occasion a completely new movement, the Calibre TM3002. A mechanical feat, the TM3002 belongs to the exclusive family of astronomical movements, featuring a perpetual calendar which displays date of the month, month, leap year.
It also indicates the equation of time, which represents the difference between solar time – which varies throughout the year as the earth nears or distances itself from the sun – and the 24-hours-per-day time, based on the worldwide consensus that every day should have the same duration. In addition to the zodiac, the celestial coordinates are completed with a magnificent 3-D moon sphere providing the different phases, combined with a moon age display showing – within the lunation cycle of 29 days, 44 minutes and 2.8 seconds – the time elapsed since the last new moon.
A marine chronometer is an instrument that is both precise – stays synchronised with an external standard time – and accurate – the frequency of its oscillator is stable over time. Moreover, its high efficiency must be achieved during navigation and across a varied range of temperatures and positions. Like every Thomas Mercer movement, the Calibre TM3002 features the sine-qua-non specifications of a marine timekeeper: chain-fusee drive and spring detent, also known as the “chronometer escapement”.
Working as an infinitely variable gearbox, the former is responsible for delivering the mechanism an ever-constant rate of energy, whereas the latter, with its escape wheel directly impulsing the balance without any lever or anchor in between, increases escapement efficiency, joining together in the perfect combination for accuracy timepieces. The escapement is coupled with a balance of ovalising type, solution featuring an invar bar which forces the brass balance into an oval shape as the temperature varies, thus granting thermal compensation. A final touch of distinction is the double chain-fusee drive which, coupled with barrels provide the movement with a 30-day power reserve that makes winding it a pleasurable and rare occasion.
Only recently made first visible to the public gaze during its launch at the Monaco Yacht Show at Monte Carlo, September 26th-29th, the Aquilo will now be on display at Linley Belgravia, 60 Pimlico Road, (London) SW1.