ArtyA Purity Tourbillon: science fiction turned scientific reality
In 1986, the world discovered the idea of a futuristic material: in Star Trek IV: The Return Trip, ship medic Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and chief engineer Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) traveled back in time for a pair of humpback whales, which required the construction of a huge tank to contain them. . The duo thus revealed the formula of a new innovative transparent aluminum to be exchanged for the heavy plexiglass they needed for the tank.
The concept of transparent aluminum sounded like real science fiction at the time: how the hell could aluminum be made transparent?
The aluminum we generally use is not pure aluminum. In fact, hardly any aluminum that we can see exists as pure aluminum; it is too reactive with oxygen to remain pure and is therefore found almost exclusively in the form of oxide. The aluminum in the products we use every day is therefore not pure either, but rather an alloy that has been mixed with other elements to derive certain properties from it and often coated with a very thin layer of oxide due to its reactivity.
Here’s the catch: So far you’ve probably thought about metallic aluminum, but that’s not the only way aluminum can exist. Aluminum metallic is very common, but aluminum oxides can form different crystal structures due to the differences in how the atomic structure of the oxide occurred. Another major crystalline form of aluminum oxide (Al2O3) is known as corundum, a transparent mineral. If you’re reading this, you probably know it best by its horological name: sapphire crystal.
Colored forms of corundum – like rubies – are simply oxides of aluminum with trace elements that exhibit different properties. This therefore begs the question: since what we call aluminum is in fact an aluminum alloy composed of various elements, an aluminum oxide, namely sapphire, would it not be the literal expression of the transparent aluminum? I would say yes.
Chemistry nerd side note: Metallic aluminum (and all other metals) form a crystal lattice structure when solid, but the arrangement of the atoms is different from the crystal structure we would associate with pretty gems. Atomic structure is what defines each mechanical property of a material on a macro scale, which can cause carbon to create both ultra-soft graphite and diamonds when in different arrangements.
This means that we’ve been using clear aluminum for thousands of years, we just didn’t know that was what it was. And now, thanks to modern chemistry and materials science, people have developed both artificial sapphire and other ceramic formulations with aluminum (i.e. aluminum oxynitride) to create the fictitious transparent aluminum.
All this to say that watches using synthetic sapphire for the crystals actually use clear aluminum, which would then mean that watches in full sapphire cases effectively use Star Trek-Technology hypothetical for the whole case.
Enter ArtyA and its new Purity Tourbillon, an astonishing watch combining an ultra-minimal skeletonized tourbillon movement with the perfectly clear and ultra-resistant sapphire crystal case, aka transparent aluminum. The brand isn’t afraid of extreme aesthetics, but the Purity Tourbillon is extreme in a more traditional way and for that reason I think it has a lot to offer.
ArtyA Purity Tourbillon
ArtyA’s Purity Tourbillon is a bold expression of style, but very different from the direction ArtyA usually takes, which includes pieces with unique materials, finishes and aesthetics combined in unpredictable ways. The Purity Tourbillon is aptly named because it is truly a timepiece distilled without excess. The case is the obvious first step as it is a completely transparent block of sapphire crystal, not hiding anything and with minimal detail so as not to distract the movement inside.
The movement is extremely clean with only a few arched bridges retaining the cog and connected to a flying tourbillon at 9 o’clock. The tourbillon almost seems to float separately from the movement thanks to the single thin hoop extending from the main assembly. The movement is symmetrical along the horizontal axis and is fairly well balanced vertically due to the large diameter of the tourbillon.
Since the Purity Tourbillon is all about purity of design and function, it only displays hours and minutes and does not use any markers, numbers or other elements to clutter up the aesthetic. The tourbillon has a 60-second rotation, but no dial or markers to track the seconds as they go by.
The only additional design feature is the ArtyA “A” logo on the top of the winding mechanism; otherwise, the case and movement keep things as clean as possible.
The architecture of the movement is built around circularity since all the bridges reflect or completely marry the shapes of the wheels and barrels. Two barrels are arranged vertically side by side, flanking the winding stem, and are held by a lower bridge in the form of a circle intersecting the pivots. This in turn is held by an upper deck with indents corresponding to the rims of the barrels, but also follows the circle of the lower deck, so the visual is a set of stacked circles.
The repetition of shape is a solid way to create visual interest with minimal detail, allowing the design of the Purity to feel both intricate and clean. All the aforementioned bridges, barrels and winding mechanism are part of a larger circle: the main plate. The repetition of circularity is much more apparent on the reverse than on the front.
Once you flip the watch over, you can clearly see the matryoshka-shaped circles stacked inside each other holding the entire gear train. It also clearly shows how the tourbillon is mounted in front of most of the movement, with the skeleton shaped like overlapping circles. A large area could be left open, giving the impression that the structure holding the swirl is ultra-thin.
Of course, the circle intersects a smaller circle that is part of the overall diameter of the movement, securing it rigidly to the edge of the case. This feature isn’t hidden from the front, but it’s also not the highlight, allowing for a bit of visual mystery as the focus becomes the swirling whirlpool. With a diameter of 17 millimeters and a three-lobed bridge dominating the look, the tourbillon is clearly the highlight.
The movement, chiseled by a specialist in complications in Switzerland, is the very essence of the Purity Tourbillon. This is why the design of the bridges is so minimal, why the case is completely transparent sapphire crystal, and why no markers or numbers or an additional sapphire crystal ring around the edge has been added. The impression you are meant to get with this coin is how clean it is and how it isn’t.
Transparent aluminum, kind of
Back to the sapphire crystal case: it is indeed the component that allows the minimalist skeleton movement to appear as delicate as it is. Without the bulky steel or precious metal case surrounding the movement, the watch has no visual weight. There are hardly any components that feel thick enough to add weight to the Purity Tourbillon, and this is confirmed when you hold it.
The sapphire crystal is quite light and with no real expanse of steel or brass in the movement, thanks to its design the watch just doesn’t have much to feel physically or visually. Choosing the sapphire crystal for the case was probably the best decision to achieve the design intent, and it’s still quite rare in the industry. Of course, sapphire crystal cases have appeared in recent years, but the numbers are still low and they are very expensive.
Once you consider the case to be clear aluminum (technically), you understand that this watch has a lot to offer, especially in how little feel there is. It also offers ArytA fans something different from its usual offerings, which in themselves are always very different from each other.
In this way, this watch fits perfectly into the history of a brand that has changed things with every piece, and this one is no different.
It will be difficult since the Purity is made of sapphire crystal, but let’s take this watch apart!
- Wowza factor * 9.2 There is a moment when you realize that this watch seems to weigh nothing, and you are amazed!
- Late night lust call * 92 ”902.212 m / s2 The craving for this watch starts with the fact that you can never fully grasp its shape, so you stay awake all night to try!
- MGR * 65.4 The pure design of the movement is enough to give it a very geeky note, but the large flying tourbillon seals the deal!
- Add-Function * N / A Everyone should know by now that the coolest watches aren’t always the most complicated and this one does the trick. Anyway, you can skip the I must-HAVE-This cream and savor the near-nothingness that is the Purity Tourbillon!
- Ouch Outline * 9.98 A tight hamstring! Stretching before and after strenuous activity is always crucial for fear of cramping or worse, straining something important like your hamstrings. Still, I would gladly walk with a limp pulling a muscle if that meant I could limp with the Purity Tourbillon on my wrist!
- Mermaid moment * It’s so minimal! It’s hard not to fall head over heels when something is so bold yet so minimal, and the Purity is the perfect synthesis of the two!
- Impressive total * 805 Start with the power reserve in hours (70) and multiply by the diameter of the case in millimeters (46), finally divide by the frequency of the balance in Hz (4) for an impressive total clearly translucent!
For more information, visit www.artya.com/artya-purity-tourbillon.
Quick facts ArtyA Purity Tourbillon
Case: 46 x 12.5 mm, sapphire crystal
Movement: hand-wound Purity Tourbillon caliber with 17 mm one-minute flying tourbillon, 70-hour power reserve, frequency 28,800 vph / 4 Hz
Functions: hours, minutes
Limit: 13 pieces
Price: 120,000 Swiss francs
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