Created in partnership with master watchmaker Eric Coudray and TEC Ebauches, the Spherion by C. Purnell incorporates a triple-axis tourbillon that rotates a full 360 degrees in just eight seconds, optimizing precision by averaging out the effects of gravity on the escapement.
The inspiration for the creative approach to the Spherion began during World War I when the brand’s namesake, Cecil Purnell, taught himself watchmaking after being injured in battle. Fascinated by Abraham-Louis Breguet and his tourbillon invention, Purnell spent years instilling his passion for the tourbillon into his grandson, Jonathan Purnell. Decades later, Jonathan founded C. Purnell in honor of his grandfather and his beloved mechanism, the tourbillon. More than a decade after founding the brand and eleven tourbillon calibers later, the idea for Spherion was born.
The Spherion concept is based around the creation of a unique, high-speed, multi-axis tourbillon pushing all existing boundaries of tourbillon capability. The intention was to upend convention by inventing a new mechanism, taking the tourbillon to new heights. Development began in 2015, and it was clear from the start that visually highlighting the mechanism was going to be a top priority. A view of the mechanism drove the aesthetic design of the movement, case and crystal, making Spherion the most demanding timepiece created by C. Purnell to date.
To develop the Spherion, C. Purnell teamed up with legendary master watchmaker Eric Coudray and TEC Ebauches. Coudray, the mastermind behind incredible timepieces such as the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon and Cabestan Trapezium, worked with C. Purnell for more than two years to develop this masterpiece.
The inner tourbillon cage of Spherion’s triple-axis tourbillon makes more than seven rotations each minute (less than eight seconds);the inner, middle and outer tourbillon cages all rotate at higher velocities than previously attained in a triple-axis tourbillon: 8 seconds, 16 seconds, and 30 seconds respectively.
This sensational technical achievement is worthy of an equally spectacular case to highlight the triple-axis tourbillon. C. Purnell developed a highly complicated and unusual sapphire crystal, which added more than a year to the development of the Spherion; creation of this sapphire crystal required fourteen months of research and development to acquire the optimal shape and quality. The result is an astonishing sapphire crystal window with a vertical wall at 6 o’clock stretching all the way to the bottom of the case to provide an unimpeded view of the multi-axis tourbillon. The complex case and crystal design are both critical features for optimally displaying the tourbillon in action.
The first examples of Spherion were completed in late 2017, with very few from the first production remaining. As if creating the world’s fastest triple-axis tourbillon and a complicated sapphire crystal was not enough, Spherion is also customizable by design with five case options and myriad color choices for the dial, hands and outer tourbillon cage. The outermost tourbillon cage can be customized to the client’s color or finish preference using a variety of methods, including anodizing, hydrographics and applied lacquer. The dial and hands can also be customized to match or accent the outer tourbillon cage using applied lacquer in the client’s colors of choice. With so many available options, each Spherion becomes a unique and mesmerizing creation with the highest level of exclusivity.
Spherion’s open movement architecture makes for a very light caliber in terms of both aesthetics and weight, coming in at just 15.7 grams. When combined with the option of a titanium case, the Spherion becomes a featherweight packing a huge horological punch. A forty-hour power reserve ensures that punch lasts, and the simple, clean dial focuses attention squarely on the groundbreaking multi-axis tourbillon.
Spherion is available in a choice of polished, satin-blasted or black DLC-coated grade 5 titanium,18kt rose gold, or 18kt white gold and comes with a three-year warranty extendable to five years by registering with C. Purnell.
The compact nature of the triple-axis tourbillon makes it particularly challenging to assemble and, with its fast-rotational period, even more challenging to regulate. Assembling the caliber CP01 movement requires patience and takes weeks, not days, which is on par with very complicated movements. The difficulty varies depending on client customizations, which may require different techniques to ensure no damage comes to the customized components or their finishes and that the delicate balance of the tourbillon cages is maintained. After assembly, the movement is regulated in six positions. The entire process of regulating the movement to a high level of precision can take two weeks of slow and careful adjustment.
The triple-axis tourbillon may be the raison d’être of Spherion, but the case and crystal designs are crucial to its owner’s experience. From the beginning of development, a unique, commanding case and sapphire crystal were as equally important to C. Purnell as the movement, as the concept centers on an open, curved crystal emphasizing the multi-axis tourbillon. Interlinked, development of Spherion’s case and crystal were two of the most demanding components during the years of development.
The battle for design integrity resulted in many case manufacturers being unwilling to take up the challenge as it was said to be too difficult to create a complex sapphire crystal in the required shape. Finally, a crystal manufacturer willing to attempt such a risky design was found, and once development on the sapphire crystal began it took another fourteen months.
The case and crystal development had a profound impact on Spherion’s journey. The movement was ready after two years of research, development, and prototyping, allowing Spherion to be released in late 2016, but development of the sapphire crystal delayed the launch until the following year. As it turned out, the delay was actually a positive because it allowed C. Purnell and Coudray to further optimize design and technical integrity. The extra development time allowed any minor issues with the movement or finishes to be dealt with, ensuring Spherion would create the experience that Jonathan Purnell envisioned from the beginning.
The C. Purnell Spherion is a high-speed triple-axis tourbillon designed and developed by C. Purnell in collaboration with master watchmaker Eric Coudray and TEC Ebauches. The Spherion,fully customizable, is available in either gold or titanium.
Caliber CP01: triple-axis tourbillon skeleton movement developed with Eric Coudray and TEC Ebauches, hand winding with twin mainspring barrels in parallel
Power reserve: 40 hours
Balance frequency: 3Hz / 21,600bph
Number of components: 247
Number of jewels: 30
Movement dimensions: 37.5 mm x 13.3 mm
Movement weight: 15.7 grams
Adjusted: 6 positions
High-velocity 30-second triple-axis tourbillon
Rotation of outer cage: 30seconds
Rotation of middle cage: 16seconds
Rotation of inner cage: 8seconds
Tourbillon assembly weight: 0.79562 grams
Shock protection: 8 Incabloc systems
Black ruthenium dial with hand-polished rhodium-plated hands, finished with hand-applied lacquer and displaying hours and minutes
Unique case available in choice of 18kt rose gold or white gold, polished or satin-blasted grade 5 titanium, or black DLC-coated titanium
Dimensions: 48 mm x 19 mm
Water resistance: 3 atm / 30 m / 90’
Number of case components: 15
Custom wrap around sapphire crystal with additional window on edge of case at 12 o’clock. Sapphire crystal drapes over edge of case at 6 o’clock providing an unobstructed view of the triple-axis tourbillon. Double anti-reflective coating on front, single anti-reflective coating on rear
Genuine crocodile or silicone rubber with gold, titanium or black DLC-coated titanium to complement case
Prices start from CHF 285,000