Two black holes orbiting fast enough emit gravitational waves that propagate through space. The source of the waves inspired the creation of Vianney La Resonance in which the resonance point of origin is used as a seed for the construction of the whole device.
This new three-hand mechanical watch employs two oscillators coupled by acoustic resonance. A manual-winding movement gives it a power reserve of 100 hours.
To showcase the horological technology without stifling the delicate character of the movement, Vianney Halter opted for a round, slim case with no superfluous material. The 39 mm diameter unibody titanium ring is enclosed with 3 curved sapphire windows. Despite being one simple block, the case is sculpted so that it pays with light.
The lugs, thanks to a small shoulder and bevel, are slightly set apart from the body. Being separate elements, the lugs have their own technical finish: brushed and beveled.
The knurled crown at 9h allows the 3h side to be fitted with a sapphire window to permit the view on the heart of the acoustic resonance. The lateral window reminds one of the all important command bridge in spaceships.
The new caliber VH222 comes with an unusual and unique architecture. One detail sets it apart from all other calibers: it has no mainplate.
To materialize the notion of isotropy, Vianney designed the caliber to be made only with bridges and pillars. Axles and wheels levitate in the dragonfly-wing like structure, as one would float in space. The movement can be assembled or disassembled by blocks, in no particular order, as if it was built in space.
To better highlight the fundamental principles of the physical resonance phenomenon, all superfluous material has been trimmed down. Technical needs according to the function were evaluated so that each component is as thin and light as possible. The resulting structure is rigid and sturdy, even without a supporting plate.
The power is provided by two barrels that feed into a differential in the center of the watch. The design and execution of the 55 parts inside this device are critical in the coupling function. It splits the power accordingly so that the two balances receive the correct amount of energy for synchronization.
The wheels are enormously large. For aesthetical and mechanical reasons, the diameters and thinness have been pushed to the limits despite the difficult machining and decoration. Bigger wheels mean bigger teeth counts and smoother power transmission.
By individually contributing to even out perturbations, every element contributes to the resonance. Following the flow of force, from the barrels at 9h concentrating to the differential in the center, split into the seconds wheels at 1h and 5h, and refocusing in the resonating stack at 3h, one can see the density of components decreases for a better view of the two coupled balances.
As in the Deep Space Resonance, coupling is obtained via acoustic wave transmission through a solid unit like in a tuning fork. Having an acoustic coupling mechanism implies that the balances have to be as close as possible to each other, linked via the smallest possible bridge. This allows the energy to equalize and flow between the two oscillators. In order not to favor one oscillator over the other, the construction requires to be as symmetrical as possible.
The resonance function keeps going as long as there is enough energy. There are two resonance modes: either in phase (the two springs are expanded together) or in phase opposition (one spiral is fully expanded while the other is fully contracted). Which modes the watch locks in depends on the position of the escapements when the power crosses the resonance threshold, and is reset when the watch stops. This way, the balances behavior can change and allow for another appreciation of the resonance phenomenon through the 3h window.
The stacked coupled balances are mounted in a porte-escapement unit, allowing for a thorough regulation and an easier maintenance.
The common stud holder through which the mutual perturbations and energy flow between the balances has been heavily studied and patented. The differential splits the power equally to feed each escapement. Thanks to that, the meticulous selection of paired escapements, and their tight regulation, the two oscillators are primed for acoustic resonance.
Since the balances beat together, Vianney followed the spirit of chronometry, with the least clutter as possible in one single dial displaying hours, minutes and seconds.
To Vianney, aesthetics and refinishing of mechanical and exterior components are crucial. Each and every component is embellished on all their sides, by brushing and anglage. The cumulated hand beveling length is 3.7 meters, split onto 11 wheels and 13 titanium bridges. The 30 concave pillars are mirror polished.
From the beauty of the symmetrical architecture, to the traditional hand finishing, everything converges towards highlighting the delicate nature of the complication, regardless under which angle it is observed.
The finishing of the long axles – 2 seconds axles and 2 escapement wheel axles – is pushed to the extreme. The 4 facetted axles pay tribute to the anonymous blacksmiths of old, who built entire tower clocks using only red hot metal, anvils and hammers.
Technical challenges and innovation always motivate and inspire Vianney Halter. This new watch was made because of the difficulty in creating a suspended caliber, housing a genuine acoustic resonance phenomenon. Owing to the tremendous amount of work associated with such complex mechanisms, the production of La Resonance is limited to only seven pieces each year.
Pictures credit: The Horophile