Those who innovate

Bovet Récital 28 Prowess 1: a spectacular world first

June 2024

Bovet Récital 28 Prowess 1: a spectacular world first

For the first time, we have a world time watch that accounts for seasonal time changes, including UTC, American Summer Time (AST), Europe and America Summer Time (EAS) and European Winter Time (EWT). This model also features a perpetual calendar with indications on rollers and a ten-day power reserve from a single barrel, all driven by a flying tourbillon – a total of 744 components. Prowess indeed!


he history of the world timer is a well-known historical fact, closely intertwined with the advent of the railways. As historian David S. Landes explains in Revolution In Time, the former stagecoach routes “had to adapt to a multitude of local times, which always varied according to longitude. However, the trains travelled too fast for that, and passengers and crews were continually exposed to discrepancies and confusion” – and even devastating collisions.

It gradually became clear that a standard time system was essential, and on 22 September 1847, the railway companies of Great Britain adopted Greenwich Mean Time across their growing network. The entire country and beyond – the British Empire, Europe, and the Americas – resigned themselves to this new reality, and at the International Meridian Conference of 1884 a world time system of 24 hours, starting at midnight in Greenwich, was adopted. Each country was left to decide what would happen after that.

Now firmly established and known as UTC (the time of which is regulated by an atomic clock), this official division of Earth into 24 time zones, not counting the occasional half or quarter-hour here and there, is as much political as it is geographical. Each state wants to impose its own time, resulting in time zones with huge zigzags in certain places. Watches and the synchronisation they made possible, without which trains could never have run, became a useful tool at a time when international travel and communication were burgeoning. The world time watch was about to be born, thanks in particular to the genius of watchmaker Louis Cottier.

However, the story does not end there. In addition to idiosyncratic time zones, Summer and Winter Time were introduced. Some countries adopted them, while others did not, whether for geographical reasons (such as countries close to the Equator, where days vary little in length) or for political reasons. First introduced during World War I, reintroduced during World War II, and now a permanent fixture in 70 countries, these seasonal time changes are intended to save energy by taking advantage of daylight. Until now, no timepiece had ever been able to take account of these capricious switches between winter and summer time. Now, for the very first time, there is one: the Bovet Récital 28 Prowess 1.

Bovet Récital 28 Prowess 1: a spectacular world first

A world of rollers

The world time system of the Récital 28 Prowess 1, which was more than five years in development, is based on 25 rollers. Each of these rollers has four positions: UTC for Coordinated Universal Time; AST, for the summer time of America only, as it deviates from EAS by 21 days; EAS, representing European-American Summer Time; and lastly, EWT for European Winter Time. Each of the rollers can be adjusted by simply pressing the crown. This rotates the cylinders in 90° increments, allowing each time zone to be adjusted individually according to each seasonal time change.

Set to the AST position, i.e., American Summer Time
Set to the AST position, i.e., American Summer Time

But that’s not all the rollers can do. Besides displaying seasonal time, the Récital 28 Prowess 1 also has a perpetual calendar function. Although the day is shown on a disc, the date, month and leap year indications are also displayed on rollers. Inspired, we are told, by a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, the date roller is mounted on a specially developed system that employs a spring to prevent jamming. And there’s also a special effect: when the rollers reach midnight on the last day of the month, the date rolls back like a slot machine, while the two other rollers roll forward. The show reaches fever pitch at midnight on December 31.

The motor driving this complex animation is regulated by a tourbillon positioned at 12 o’clock, which acts as a symbolic “sun”. This is a double-sided flying tourbillon which Bovet, who owns the patent, calls “expanded,” because its escapement is positioned entirely on the upper side of the central anchor point, and its balance and hairspring are mounted inside the cage. This is the lightest cage Bovet has ever made: 62 components – of which 32 are new – weighing just 0.35 grams in total.

Splendour, complexity and ease of use

The Récital 28 Prowess 1 is powered by the hand-wound, in-house Calibre R28-70-00X, a 16 3⁄4-line, 38mm x 13.3mm calibre that beats at a frequency of 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz), guaranteeing accuracy. Most remarkably, it boasts an exceptional power reserve of 240 hours, or ten days. Despite the rare complexity of this movement, daily use is incredibly simple, with all world time adjustments made via the crown.

This exceptional calibre is composed of 744 parts, all meticulously hand-finished. The base plate features circular graining and Côtes de Genève, while the bridges are hand-engraved. The main structures showcase angle rentrant chamfering, and various polishes are applied throughout. This exceptional craftsmanship takes place in the workshops of the Bovet manufacture in Tramelan, Switzerland. The assembly of a single movement takes weeks, which explains why production is limited to no more than eight timepieces per year.

The Récital 28 Prowess 1 features the Dimier “writing slope” case, measuring 46.3mm in diameter and 17.85mm thick, available in 18K red gold, platinum or Grade 5 titanium.

“With the Récital 28 Prowess 1, we are solving the terrestrial time problem with a world timer that can be adjusted for all the variations in timekeeping around the world,” says Pascal Raffy, Bovet’s owner. “This timepiece is a promise: you’ll never have to work out what time it is anywhere in the world.”

Standard/UTC Time Facts

  • Time zones don’t run in straight lines, even though lines of longitude do.
  • North America, Africa, Russia and Australia, split their land masses into different time zones, while China, India and Argentina do not.
  • Australia has horizontal time zones, split north and south.
  • The uninhabited island of Märket (3.3 hectares or 8.2 acres) located between Sweden and Finland in the Baltic Sea, is co-owned by both nations and is therefore split down the middle timewise, with a one-hour difference between the two sides.
  • France has the most time zones in the world, with 12 (thanks to the many French territories around the world), followed by Russia with 11 and the United States with 9 official and 2 unofficial time zones (including overseas research stations and territories).
  • The Trans-Siberian Railway passes through 10 different time zones on its 6-day journey between Moscow and Vladivostok.
  • China, despite its massive size, has only one time zone, although it should have five.
  • The North Pole and the South Pole do not have official time zones.
  • The White House recently tasked NASA with establishing a time standard for the moon, called Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC).

Daylight Saving Time (DST) Facts

  • Only about 70 out of 195 countries around the world use DST.
  • In the US, only Hawaii and Arizona do not observe DST.
  • The United States adopted DST in 1918, abolished it after World War I, and reinstated it during World War II (in February 1942) as a year-round DST called “War Time.” From 1945-1966, individual states and towns could decide whether to use DST, leading to chaos and confusion.
  • In 1966, Congress enacted the Uniform Time Act, which said that any state observing DST had to adhere to a uniform protocol that dictated when it began and when it ended.
  • The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (which went into effect in 2007) extended daylight saving time by a month.
  • The push to eliminate time changes is growing, but the debate over which time to adopt (full-time standard time or full-time DST) continues.

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