Watchmaker Christophe Claret’s passion for history has inspired him to create Aventicum, officially titled: Christophe Claret Aventicum Miniature Gold Bust Watch, a watch whose primary “statement” is less about telling the time and more about its other unique attributes. Over 2,000 years ago, the Swiss town of Avenches was called Aventicum, ancient capital of Roman Helvetica. Aventicum was an important political, economic and religious centre and the wristwatch celebrates its 2000th anniversary.
As a matter of fact, Swiss Watch manufacturer Claret became fascinated with the archaeological digs in Avenches, which was his main inspiration of the Christophe Claret Aventicum miniature gold bust watch, because a gold bust of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius has been unearthed in 1939. This precious discovery is one of only three known Roman busts of this style in the world. Other similar statues were most likely melted down and recycled into other objects over the centuries but never before as a watch tried to encapsulate so much history and tradition within the centre of its dial.
Watch maker Christophe Claret has collaborated closely with the Avenches Roman Museum, to create the Christophe Claret Aventicum miniature gold bust watch, which is only an hour away from his watch and timepiece manufacturing plant, to create a 3-D film documenting the city’s history through a collection of the Museums ruins. He has decided to include some of his own findings into his watch model. A micro-engraved gold replica of the Marcus Aurelius bust can be found in the centre of the watch’s dial. The small-scale representation of the Emperor is measured at less than three millimetres and is displayed in magnified form across the centre of the watch thanks to the mirascope. The mirascope is comprised of two identical parabolic mirrors arranged one on top of the other, creating an elliptical shape that complements the design of this unique watch. The convex mirror on top has a hole in the middle. When an object is placed in the centre of the concave bottom mirror, the reflection from the top mirror creates a hologram of the object at the centre of the watch, which appears nearly two times larger than it actually is. In implementing this optical effect in the Christophe Claret Aventicum miniature gold bust watch, the bust of Marcus Aurelius looks as if it is thrusting out of the middle of the watch. The illusion is so realistic that it is hard to resist attempting to touch the gold sculpture through the sapphire glass. This is truly a unique revolutionary edition to timepieces and the art of watch making.
Encircling the bust and forever trapping the head of Marcus Aurelius is a labyrinth-like decoration and a gold bezel with Roman numerals. Having solved the problem of how to magnify the miniature gold bust, Swiss watch manufacturer Claret had to solve the dilemma of where to place the hour and minute hands in order to create the Christophe Claret Aventicum miniature gold bust watch. The solution was to place them under the mirascope and create two small pointers that orbit the external circumference of the dial across the watch. Two carbon fiver discs underneath the centre of the watch’s dial are held at the centre pinion and each of them is equipped with a small red gold marker on its outer circumference and respectively marked with a letter ‘H’ or a letter ‘M’ to mark the hours and minutes with the help of the Roman numeral chapter ring, a novel edition for the timepiece.
The Roman theme is continued throughout the rest of the Christophe Claret Aventicum miniature gold bust watch. As a matter of fact, the watch also boasts a quartet of horse-drawn chariots racing in circles on the back of the timepiece, and the numbers of the face suitably spelled out with Roman numerals. In lieu of hour and minute hands, tiny ‘H’ and ‘M’ markers circle the outer circumference of the watch’s face, and the use of titanium ensures the Aventicum is light on your wrist, but not so much on your pocket book. Furthermore, as Marcus Aurelius was not only an emperor but also a philosopher, Christophe Claret elected to engrave in Latin one of his famous maxims on the back of the watch: “Perfice Omnia facta vitae quasi haec postrema essent”: “Perform every act in life as though it were your last.”
Aventicum, like all Christophe Claret signature wristwatches, epitomizes the highest standards of haute horlogerie embodied by the brand. Developing the technically demanding mirascope to function perfectly took extreme dedication and focus. Months of research and several prototypes were integral to obtaining the desired optical effect. The challenge of creating the hands for Aventicum was to find a material light enough to compensate for the relatively larger size of the display mechanism.
Christophe Claret Aventicum miniature gold bust watch is available in two limited editions: 68 pieces in 18K red gold and anthracite PVD-treated, grade 5 titanium; and 38 pieces in palladium-rich white gold and anthracite PVD-treated, grade 5 titanium. The 68 pieces are priced at £36,000 and the 38 pieces are priced at £39,000.
Swiss watch maker Christophe Claret hopes that his Aventicum-inspired timepiece will help raise awareness about the phenomenal efforts of the Avenches Roman Museum to preserve these vestiges of this ancient civilization. He also wishes to generate support from the Swiss government to construct a new building to conserve and showcase this incredible heritage of Aventicum.