he Escape IIS Treasure is a powerful timekeeper driven by the force of Purnell’s ground-breaking double-Spherion movement, designed and developed by Purnell in collaboration with master watchmaker Eric Coudray. To adapt what is today the world’s fastest triple-axis tourbillon to a feminine wrist without giving up any of its power, Purnell redesigned its Escape II, the world’s first double Spherion movement.
What is more, Purnell added to its exceptional new timepiece, a feature that is a world premiere: a pair of tourbillon cages set with gemstones. This extraordinary feat of nanotechnology combined with precision gem-setting know-how has never before been achieved in watchmaking history. As such, the Escape IIS Treasure is a nod to the gem-set timekeepers worn by women in the 17th century, and an exercise in high style that marries the elegance of a precious wristwatch with the technical prowess packed inside Purnell’s double-Spherion mechanism, alive in a perpetual dance of diamonds.
The new Escape IIS Treasure collection offers a choice of four new versions, each customizable upon request. Each version comes with a skeletonized movement, a 32-hour power reserve, and a 44mm case made smaller for a feminine wrist. Two versions, the Treasure Diamond and the Treasure Rainbow are set with diamonds or “rainbow” gemstones on their tourbillon cages, while two more versions also feature a case and dial fully set with baguette-cut diamonds or “rainbow” gemstones. Across this collection, the sparkle of gemstones enhances the visual spectacle of the double Spherions visible through a custom-crafted monobloc sapphire glass, setting a new standard for grand complications for women.
A New Addition to Purnell’s Double Spherion Family
Specialized in gravity-defying tourbillons since it was founded in 2006, Purnell introduced its “Spherion” - a triple-axis tourbillon - in 2017 in the Escape I model. That Spherion construction, designed by Purnell in collaboration with Eric Coudray, featured a triple-axis tourbillon mechanism rotating at higher velocities than any existing triple-axis tourbillon. Its movement relied on the Potter Escapement which Eric Coudray modified in part by adding “internal teeth” to its escapement wheel, to improve performance and reduce energy consumption. Purnell’s Spherion became then the world’s fastest triple-axis tourbillon.
Eric Coudray explains the Spherion construction in a few words:
“The idea behind putting three cages inside one another was to create a regulating organ, which would neutralize the effect of gravity on the balance wheel and therefore improve the accuracy of the watch accuracy. And to achieve a relatively fast rotating speed, we used a pretty old escapement called “Potter” dating from 1875.”
As for the purpose of high-rotating speeds, Eric Coudray says:
“There are two goals. The first is to have an object that looks alive and visually attractive; the second is to improve the escapement regulation. The working principle is to have a fixed escapement wheel and, on the cage that holds the balance wheel, you will only find the anchor (and not the escapement wheel). This is unlike a traditional tourbillon where in the same cage, you would find the escapement gear, the anchor and the balance wheel.”
Two years later, Eric Coudray and his team successfully developed the Escape II, the next iteration of Purnell’s Escape collection. The Escape II unveiled in late 2019 offered Purnell’s clients something completely unexpected: an intricately-designed movement powered by not one, but two counter-rotative Spherions inside two tourbillon cages rotating in opposite directions on exactly the same path.
Fitting the double-Spherions into the movement required two years of development for the watchmakers to rethink the caliber construction and 386 components in their entirety. Fourteen months were required to develop the single-piece sapphire glass and side-viewing windows positioned by the lugs at 6 o’clock, to enhance the experience of full visibility onto the two high-speed Spherions.
The Escape IIS Treasure
Few objects are as timelessly precious as a handcrafted, gem-set timepiece. That fact is just as true today as it was four centuries ago when the first brilliant-set timekeepers appeared on the wrists of elegant society women. Modern women, however, embrace not just the beauty of precious stones, they also appreciate the technical intricacies of a highly complicated mechanical timepiece.
With its own sophisticated, female collector-base in mind, Purnell has designed the Escape IIS Treasure as the quintessence of the spectacular, powered by its highvelocity Spherions that come alive in a mesmerizing dance inside their gem-set tourbillon cages.
For the first time in watchmaking history, the Escape IIS Treasure features tourbillon cages with arms set with gemstones. The task of gem-setting the tiny arms raised its own set of challenges. First, the surface on the arms of the tourbillon cages had to be increased to create enough space to set 152 brilliant-cut gemstones on each outer cage. For that, Purnell redesigned the tourbillon cages with a wider arm architecture without compromising either the precision or the function of the Spherions, or reducing the 32-hour power reserve.
In its feminine iteration, the new model had to be imminently wearable. For that, the case size of the Escape IIS Treasure – the “S” standing for “small” - was reduced to 44mm, down from the 48mm of the Escape II, its predecessor. Next, the overall weight of the cages was re-balanced, given the added weight of the diamonds. The weight of the movement was maintained at just 15.7 grams with each Spherion weighing a mere 0.831 grams.
Finally, gem-setting on the robust titanium for the cages posed a significant challenge, yet it was one that Purnell overcame by calling upon the skills of its talented gem-setting artisans using extreme precision to apply special technique adapted to titanium.