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Cecil Purnell V17 World Time Bi-Axial Tourbillon Watch Hands-On
4 minutes read
Standing out from the crowd is always a plus. The Cecil Purnell V17 World Time Bi-Axial Tourbillon, the latest offering from a brand renowned for its unique timepieces, is no exception. Cecil Purnell watches are distinctively different from others in the market. While some elements may remind you of other brands, this watch’s combination of technical and artistic excellence is unparalleled. This is primarily due to Jonathan Purnell, the grandson of the company’s founder, who leads the company with passion and integrity. Cecil Purnell shines as a genuine and authentic brand in an industry dominated by large corporations.
The company was founded by Cecil Purnell in 1918. His grandson inherited his passion for mechanical devices and is now the brand’s visible spokesperson. He is deeply enthusiastic about the timepieces created in his grandfather’s name, and rightly so; as Cecil Purnell watches, he generates strong opinions. However, the company had a humble beginning. Only in 2006, when Jonathan Purnell formed an alliance with Stéphane Valsamides, a watch industry professional, the company was launched in the Jura Mountains. Since then, the company has come a long way and watches like the Cecil Purnell CP-V17 World Time Bi-Axial Tourbillon have been introduced. Although the company is more of a micro-manufacture with a small workshop in Geneva, it relies on select Swiss suppliers to obtain various movements, cases and other components.
Apart from the fact that each Cecil Purnell watch features a tourbillon, which sets it apart from other watches, the presentation of this beloved complication is unique. The case shape in previous models, such as the LaCroix and the Lucky Lady, was in the form of a cross, which was quite unusual. The case has multiple overlapping shapes in the Pit Lane range, which are almost as austere as Guernica. As a result of these radical housing developments, the tourbillon is often overlooked. Coupled with a few rarely-seen complications, it is possible to miss the tourbillon altogether.
The Cecil Purnell CP-V17 World Time Bi-Axial Tourbillon is a remarkable timepiece with a tourbillon and a meticulously designed 3D world time display. It also includes an artificial horizon indicator, which, while not practical for everyone, is a fascinating and unique feature. You could even argue that it serves a dual purpose as a spirit level for DIY enthusiasts, adding to its value proposition, especially considering its high price tag in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The time indicator on this clock is simply excellent. It features a semi-circular globe that rotates every 24 hours and aligns with the individual times of countries as the clock turns and the half-globe rotates. Although it can be challenging to read, the idea is fluid, handsome and executed well. I enjoy complications like this, which reminds me of those in the Greubel Forsey GMT or the Vicenterra GMT-3.
These devices are primarily ornamental advancements that can be designed with minimal technical expertise. Nevertheless, they offer an opportunity to integrate art into watchmaking without appearing too artificial. The impressive-looking globe is a sophisticated GMT hand, which is less precise but more visually appealing – a balance all watchmakers strive to achieve. The Cecil Purnell V17 World Time Bi-Axial Tourbillon has successfully achieved this balance.
Cecil Purnell may have needed to compensate for the whimsical world timer by adding a touch of horological expertise to the mix. This led to introducing a bi-axial tourbillon, which is even more impressive than a regular tourbillon. Although they are supposed to be better at eliminating positional error by moving the balance wheel through three dimensions, their natural appeal lies in their stunning appearance. They seem to be falling through space, suspended by a nearly invisible arm. Witnessing time this way, floating before your eyes, twisting and ticking away in its environment, is a magnificent experience. The Cecil Purnell V17 World Time Bi-Axial Tourbillon is a beautiful addition to a collection of eccentric creations. The partnership of a tourbillon and a horizon indicator is a perfect match, with both features having opposite relationships with gravity: the former aims to eliminate it. At the same time, the latter is controlled by it. This contrasting relationship creates a sense of balance that extends beyond just aesthetics.
The Cecil Purnell V17 World Time Bi-Axial Tourbillon watch boasts technical specifications like a 45mm width, water resistance up to 50 meters, and a black leather strap with a folding rose gold clasp. With a movement of calibre CP-V17, it has 267 components, a 70-hour power reserve, and operates at 21,600vph. The 13mm tourbillon cage rotates between two bridges, while the hands are designed beautifully with a straight-grain finish and delicate chamfer along the edge. The hands are shown in rose gold on the official website, but in reality, they appear blue. However, you can choose your preferred colour combination. The rose gold and blue hands look great, but the former adds a touch of class.
Speaking about elegance, if you ever have the opportunity to handle this particular timepiece, flip it over immediately. As someone who appreciates fine engravings, I was ecstatic to discover a beautifully crafted map design on the case back. Although a couple of openings allow you to glimpse some of the jewels, the main attraction of the movement is the dual-axis tourbillon, which can also be seen from the back. With this watch, you can admire various features from its rear side – an exquisite case engraving, well-executed plate engraving, a glimpse of the movement’s motion, and an enchanting contrast between the rose gold case and the dark silver map.
There is some unfortunate news to share with you. Only ten of these 18ct Rose Gold watches will be produced. This will likely lead to a high demand for spirit levels in DIY stores worldwide, as everyone who misses the chance to purchase one of these versatile timepieces rushes to ensure flat shelves. If you don’t get one and opt for a Cecil Purnell V17 World Time Bi-Axial Tourbillon watch instead, you can expect to pay CHF 245,000. You can find more information on cecilpurnell.com.
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