“When I was first presented the watch, everything was black,” recalls Nicolas Sestito, chief executive officer of Graff Luxury Watches since January 2016.
“Everything, that is, except the tourbillon.” In most circumstances this would be a good thing: it’s the complexity of the tourbillon, an ingenious mechanical device that counters the effects of gravity on accurate timekeeping, that watchmakers typically want to highlight.
“But, to me, the watch just wasn’t easy on the eyes. The steel from which the tourbillon cage was made stood out too much,” confesses Sestito. So he set himself, and the company, a challenge: come back with a tourbillon that’s also black.
“When I was first presented the watch, everything was black...”
That sounds easy, right? But such is the delicacy of a tourbillon that even adding a fraction of a hair’s breadth of diamond-like carbon coating, as has been used in the case of the GraffStar Slim Eclipse Tourbillon, can throw it out of whack by as much as 70 per cent. Graff pulled it off, however, and then put it in a slim and lightweight titanium case, weighing just 45 grams.
Not that Sestito even wanted to do it as a some kind of calling card for Graff’s watchmaking skill. He concedes that the technical feat that is the coated tourbillon would be lost on many customers. “It’s easy to do an all-black watch, though less so to do a black watch like this one,” he says. “But what I like, and what I think the customers will like, is that black like this is just super-cool.”
He isn’t wrong: the Eclipse Tourbillon is the watch that Batman would wear to the Annual International Gala of Superheroes. The watch is, in many respects, precisely what you wouldn’t expect from one of the most esteemed makers of diamond jewellery. Blingy it isn’t. “Yes, it’s a total 180-degree turn,” chuckles Sestito. “It’s not shiny. It’s not covered with diamonds. You have to break your own rules.”
Well, almost: there is one solitary diamond (on the crown) and the cut of a bezel echoes that of a gemstone. But otherwise it’s a standout design, and necessarily so, Sestito argues, for Graff to compete in a crowded high-end watch marketplace. As he himself puts it: “If you’ve decided to go to Graff to buy a watch, rather than jewellery, you’re definitely not looking for a ‘me too’ product.”
Graff Eclipse Tourbillon 43mm