March 2011

A new complication is born: the intimate complication. Traditional timekeeping at the service of a true concept: Time for yourself

The SEPTAGRAPHTM by BorgeauD Click on Cover for e-magazine format

The SEPTAGRAPHTM, by Borgeaud

Watchmaking and astronomy, as we know, have been related since the dawn of time.

Throughout the ages, all civilizations on Earth, one after the other, have tried to understand and take advantage of the natural rhythms that govern our existence. By carefully observing the astronomical movements of the sun, moon and planets, the human spirit succeeded, very early on, in understanding the laws of the ‘great cosmic clock’.
Around 3,000 years BCE, calendars of the great civilizations, as different from each other as the Middle East, India, and China, appeared nearly simultaneously. Lunar calendars, solar calendars, moon-sun calendars and even those based on the floodwaters of the Nile, such as the ancient Egyptian calendar, all tried to subjugate, as completely as possible, the rhythmic trace of time. They divided it, subdivided it, and then subdivided it again into eras, cycles, years, seasons, months, weeks, hours, minutes, seconds and fractions of a second.
For all of these civilizations, as for our own, this knowledge of the cycles of time represents a dual value: An intimate value and a social value—intimate, because these temporal cycles impose their rhythm on the lives of each and every one of us; social, because control over time and the calendar authorizes and encourages shared activity.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, for the first time in history, the emerging art of timekeeping offered humankind the possibility of mechanically reproducing the temporal rhythms coming from astronomical observations. Astronomy and timekeeping thus combined their knowledge and gave birth to mechanisms capable of counting down fractions of a second as well as reproducing long periods of time, to display lunar cycles, time equations and the movements of the planets. The attachment that we feel today for the mechanical instruments on our wrist—well beyond their sole practical utilization —demonstrates that the relationship we have with our watch, with our own time, is an intimate one. The importance of feeling our own personal rhythms, closely tied to the mysterious planetary movements, is as important as managing our social time. In fact, don’t the two go together?


During each day, a separate time for yourself

Imagine a window of time, arranged each day at a different time, a sort of time-out that you can reserve just for you, an exclusive time.
Only you would know how to employ this time that is reserved for yourself. It is a stra-tegic time, a way to step back, an indispensable time of reflection before taking an action. It is a necessary retreat to then better move forward to reach a goal.

Among all the calendars conceived by humanity, there is one, dating back 3,000 years, that is still followed by hundreds of millions of people around the world. It is the Indian calendar called Panchang. It is divided into long eras, then in cycles of 60 years (like in 60 minutes), then in 12 lunar months, which are in turn divided into weeks of seven days, and days into 24 hours. Indian astronomers/ mathematicians took these seven 24-hour periods and then divided them again into two 12-hour periods, with a special period lasting from sunrise to sunset—conventionally fixed between 6 o’clock in the morning and 6 o’clock at night. This 12-hour daytime period was then further divided into segments of 90 minutes. Among the day’s 90-minute periods, one is special, and they called it Rahu Kaal (the time of Rahu). This period is intended for thought and reflection rather than action. It is an intimate time, a private time. It is not a social time. It is a time that should be reserved for oneself, every day. We might call it the Strategic Period.

Over the week, this Strategic Period changes, not in length, but at the time of day at which it occurs. It is based on the movements of certain heavenly bodies, which, according to the Indian astronomers, are the sun, moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and two points situated at the north-south intersections of the elliptical orbits of the sun and the moon, points named Rahu and Ketu. In Indian mythology, Rahu is the creator of eclipses, the time suspended between darkness and light. Thus, the Rahu Kaal, the period of Rahu, is also a suspended time, a time that varies each day in a very precise manner.

These temporal periods, judiciously arranged, correspond perfectly to the strategic periods of reflection, which are necessary in the daily whirlwind of time. They represent an essential step back, one too often ignored, by stressed executives during the day. These personal times are used for examining options or making choices and decisions, to avoid having to undo and redo what was badly designed or done in a hurry. In terms of management, for example, doesn’t reaching our goal require a time of reflection to observe the world around us, to understand its structures, to predict changes and to plan our courses of action? Isn’t time itself our primary resource that we must both tame and respect in order to use it in the best possible way?

Now, for the first time ever, the Swiss watch brand Borgeaud has created a mechanical complication to remind us of these special daily moments. It is called the SEPTAGRAPHTM.



Whether these special daily time-out moments are spent as a time of reflection and analysis before taking action, or as a form of time management, or merely as a simple ‘time for oneself’, how could these varying periods be transcribed in a mechanical fashion?

A unique solution was found by Borgeaud, which designed and constructed a new, totally original, and patented watch complication, that it named the SEPTAGRAPHTM (from the Latin ‘septua’ meaning ‘seven’ and the ancient Greek ‘graphein’ for ‘to write’). Over a weekly cycle, where each day has a different reserved time, the SEPTAGRAPHTM activates a countdown mechanism that runs for 90 minutes.

The time of the specific time period—of this Strategic Period as Borgeaud calls it—varies from day to day, and is indicated in a counter placed between 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. At midnight, the jumping hand of the counter automatically moves to the day that has just started. Every day, at the appointed time for the activation of the Strategic Period, a large arrow positioned between 3 o’clock and 5 o’clock instantaneously fills with colour, thus signalling the beginning of the period and its countdown. At the same time, a circle at the top of the arrow (engraved with an ‘SP’ for Strategic Period), also fills with colour. As the 90 minutes count down, the colour gradually leaves the arrow until it is again white after the period ends.

Up to now, there is no other complication comparable to the SEPTAGRAPHTM in time-keeping. It is not only a new indicator whose activation varies from day to day, but it is also original in that it does not signal a remaining energy level or time that has passed, but rather it shows the accumulated intimate time that we will give ourselves. This is not a time that closes behind us but rather a time that opens before us.

The development of the unique SEPTAGRAPHTM involved a long period of research to master the weekly cycle and to drive the variable activations on a daily basis, in other words, to perform the regular ‘events’ of filling the circle and the arrow, then having the colour flow out at a predetermined time.

Importantly, the beginning time and the duration of the countdown of the strategic time, although traditionally 90 minutes, can be modified to a longer or shorter period of time when the timepiece is purchased.
Another remarkable technical characteristic is that the SEPTAGRAPHTM can be corrected quite easily using a single crown, which works in both directions without having to activate any additional push-piece.

A unique dial

And, for this original and unique interpret-ation of time—one that is technically demand-ing, useful, and poetic—it was necessary to add a ‘body’ that reflected its singularity.

The face of the SEPTAGRAPHTM, its dial, was designed with the dual requirements of el-egance and readability. Its delicately graduated structure places the essential elements of the time display in relief. The central hours and minutes are indicated by lovely satin-brushed and bevelled hands and alternating applied hour markers. An additional sign of its universality are the Roman numeralss on the top and the Arabic numerals on the bottom of the dial.

The dial (with a jumping hand), indicating the weekly schedule of each Strategic Period, is displayed in a tone-on-tone counter, inset in the dial between 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. Across from it, between 3 o’clock and 5 o’clock, is the cut-out arrow that, once a day, instantly fills with colour thanks to a disc placed under the dial. The beginning of this arrow is surmounted on a capsule marked with the initials ‘SP’ signifying ‘Strategic Period’ that also fills with colour during each countdown period. This colour occurs instantaneously thanks to a particular watch mechanism that we call ‘all or nothing’.

With its alternating engraved and snailed zones, the dial is enhanced by a case carved out of a solid piece of 18-carat gold. It is avail-able in either pink gold with a choice of a white, chocolate, or black dial with an orange or amber arrow, or in white gold with a white or black dial and blue or violet arrow. In spite of its large 46-mm diameter, the case seems light and harmonious in appearance. Even the slightest detail has been carefully considered for the comfort of the wearer and for the aesthetic purity of the case: 12.4mm thick, fluid lines, thinner bezel, softly curved horns that are subtly placed over the bezel and a crown protector that emphasizes the crown decor-ated with a B for Borgeaud—also engraved with a satin-brushed finish. The SEPTAGRAPHTM is mounted on a hand double-stitched alligator leather bracelet. On the back of the watch, through the large sapphire crystal opening, can be seen the automatic movement that drives the SEPTAGRAPHTM



Borgeaud proposes two versions of the automatic movement of the SEPTAGRAPHTM and a quartz version for the ladies’ model. The first automatic calibre, the BRG 11501, equips the 1885 model and has been specifically developed for the SEPTAGRAPHTM using a Soprod A10 movement base. Beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour, this movement features 25 jewels, a power reserve of 42 hours, and an encasing circle left visible and engraved with the traditional rail track gradu-ation. It is driven by an open-worked rotor made of alternating pink and white gold and has a ‘B’ for Borgeaud in the centre.

The second automatic calibre, the BRG 13501, equips the 1358 model and has been devel-oped, constructed and produced in-house by Borgeaud. Its architecture is different and more compact since the specific complication of the SEPTAGRAPHTM display is totally integrated into the movement rather than de-signed as an additional module. This inte-gration allows additional complications to be added without increasing the thickness of the calibre. This is the first step of a development that, in the years to come, will include other additional complications. The movement features a 53-hour power reserve and a date at 1 o’clock. In the tradition of Haute Horlogerie, all its component parts are hand-engraved, polished, circular-grained or decorated with the Côtes de Genève pattern. The screws are blued, the bridges chamfered, and, as an additional design feature, their collars are slightly inclined. The superlative finishing of this movement attests to its very high degree of excellence.

A spectacular feminine version

The third calibre, the BRG Q1051, is a quartz movement reserved for the ladies’ versions of the SEPTAGRAPHTM. A unique feature of this quartz movement is that it drives a mechanical complication using a rotational disc to colour the three hollowed out petals of the principal lotus flower. In the ladies’ SEPTAGRAPHTM, it is this lotus flower that poetically counts down the Strategic Period.

Underneath the lotus, held in place by a ruby at its centre, a coloured disc appears instantly at the predetermined time, and colours three petals each counting 30 minutes. During the countdown, the colour flows slowly from petal to petal until it disappears altogether.

The lotus flower SEPTAGRAPHTM, delicately set with diamonds in pink gold when the lattice is in white gold, or white gold when the lattice is in pink gold, seems to be the grand finale of a finely worked lattice in the form of flowers of increasing size. The lattice is very subtly hammered then polished, creating a superb play on the reflections of light.

A symbol of the Borgeaud brand, this timepiece is endowed with a mechanical ‘aesthetic complication’ called The Manège. Patented and independent from the movement, it is the only one of its kind. In place of each of the ten visible hour markers, a diamond is placed in a mobile seat. With each movement of the wearer’s wrist, these diamond markers begin to pivot on themselves. Technically, these specialty-cut round diamonds are held by three settings attached to an axis located at the centre of a small light shaft with hammered and polished sides. This axis is connected by a pinion to an oscillating crown situated behind the dial. As it rotates with each movement of the wrist, due to its unbalance, the crown engages the diamonds that pivot rapidly on themselves, offering a delicate performance symbolizing the roundness of the hours in the furious rhythm of time.

The pink or white 40-mm gold case of the ladies’ model offers the ideal proportions of the men’s models, so a couple can have a perfectly matched set.

As a small additional sophistication, in all the versions, the engraved B on the crown is set with diamonds. In the most decorated version, the Borgeaud model 8795 has a mother-of-pearl dial and diamond-set bezel.

Last but not least, the back of this very el-egant feminine model has a smoked sapphire crystal that can easily be decorated with initials or other personalization at the choice of the owner.

All of Borgeaud’s watches are produced and assembled in Switzerland, using a network of qualified suppliers known for their savoir-faire, thus guaranteeing their excellence, irreproach-able quality and duration of the brand’s after-sales service.

[email protected]