With Opus 3, Vianney Halter and Harry Winston blast the haut de gamme

November 2003

It is probably the most innovative and most astonishing watch of the year. The Opus 3 was developed by master watchmaker Vianney Halter for Harry Winston. For the first time, an entirely mechanical digital display makes its entrance into the rarefied air of the haut de gamme watch sector.

What a 'brain'! The Opus 3 has nothing in common with what we have seen up to now. Each jumping date, hour, minute, and second numeral appears separately in one of six display windows arranged in two rows of three on the face of the watch. (There is no 'dial' in the strict sense of the term.) The hour is read horizontally on windows 1 and 3 of the upper row and the minutes are read on windows 4 and 6 on the lower row. The date is read vertically on windows 2 and 5. In addition, before each hour or minute changes, the four last seconds (56, 57, 58, and 59) are displayed one after the other in window Complicated? To explain, perhaps. To conceptualize and create, most definitely. To read the time on the wrist, not at all. Vianney Halter's visionary inventiveness does not stop there. He also came up with a totally new and unique crown for this piece that moves from top to bottom in four adjustment positions (first position is for winding; second position is for adjusting the minutes; third position is for hours; fourth position is for adjusting the date). It is an exceptional watch with a unique design (98% of the watch, movement and case have been developed and produced from zero).

The movement comprises two distinct mechanisms: the time mechanism whose elements (double barrel, gear train, escapement, balance wheel) are traditional but whose physical arrangement, from the plate to the gears, has been entirely reworked, and the function mechanism, a totally new device that is made of ten superposed disks.
These disks have 3 to 6 numbers and turn on their respective axis at different speeds. The upper disks have an opening in the place of one of the numbers that allows the reading of the number on the lower disk. All the necessary numbers can be composed in this manner.The case itself is also as original as the movement. Rather than a traditional case, it is a 'container' that is completely adapted to the movement and is an integral part of it (as is demonstrated by the windows as well as the toothed winding crown that is built right into the case). Contrary to traditional cases, the movement is positioned on the face rather than on the back of the watch.

A timekeeper that breaks with the classic image of the haut de gamme, a visionary, innovative, amazing watch, the Opus 3 (55 available in rose gold or in platinum) is to be saluted, especially because it is the result of a rare collaboration between a jeweller of renown and an exceptional artisan. Thanks are due to Vianney Halter, who has shown that, contrary to what some say, everything has not yet been done in the realm of sophisticated mechanical movements, and to Maximilian Busser, who at the head of Harry Winston Ultimate Timepieces, had the courage to init-iate the novel program of the Opus. (The Opus 1 was made with François-Paul Journe and the Opus 2 with Antoine Preziuso.)

If Europa Star awarded a prize for Watch of the Year, there is no doubt that it would go to Halter and Büsser for their joint efforts.

Europa Star Magazine
August-September 2003 issue