Wednesday, 15 July 2009

taking my finger off the trigger... the vianney halter antiqua

recently i had the chance of acquiring the vianney halter antiqua in red gold at a price that wasn't too crazy.. but i had to pass. for those who know me they will know that this is a grail watch of mine... but it does come with a pretty hefty price tag and purchasing it would mean selling off a number of my watches. after doing the sums, i realised i could buy it but it would be quite a stretch and noting mortgage payments and other payments looming, not the wisest thing to do... this is also noting the hurt i would be in when my minister of finance learned of the purchase which did not enter into her 2009 Budget considerations... and so the journey continues without the antiqua... for now... and i am thankful i have my classic to hold near to me...

why is this watch special? the aesthetic is something else is it not? it was birthed of a dream of the future from days past... its a vision in my eyes...

Different watches have differing qualities of course and different appeal to different people(apologies for my limited vocabulary... thats almost 4 differents in a sentence.. oops make it 5 :).

Its also a bit like sense and sensibility... in the price range that gets you a perpetual calendar from the top houses, something like a patek perpetual calender is the sensible choice.. It will most likely have a decent resale value... it is safer, some buy into it for investment purpose or for the fact that its a status symbol and its wealth flaunting ability... some because its a patek and that stands for something(family values, heritage, prestige, quality etc) and you can keep it for the next generation too and it will have value even if there is never a need to sell any of your many pateks of course ;)

Vianney's watches then appeal to people with a sense of romance, of adventure, of fantasy and flights of fancy... It appeals to the wide eyed child within us who discovers something new and wondrous... unadulterated... a dream like reality... It is akin to a space & time machine transporting one to alternative worlds where riveted copper flying machines take to the skies and to the oceans...

in a word then... 'magical...'

ok snap out of waxing lyrical about it, from a functions standpoint, it is an instantaneous perpetual calendar that accurately records the passage of time... the days, the dates and months and leap years as the 29th of february is accounted for, with an adjustment only needed once every 100 years or so... alot of effort is given to make this watch to very high and exacting standards... the manual blueing of hands, hardening and tempering of movement parts with fire and coal... the hand engraving... the finishings of the movement and case, hand assembly... (movements for the goldpfeil and trio are entirely in house but the classic uses the lemania 8810 as a base and the antiqua has the lemania 8810 as a base too but it is heavily modified to cater for vianney's quantieme perpetual mechanism...)

the red gold antiqua has a list price of CHF117,960 (excluding VAT) or about S$155k as at 2008 using rates then. the list in singapore in 2008 at the hour glass was S$197,700 with retail price after discount at S$158,160. In 2001 near when it first started delivery it was closer to US$64k or S$118k thereabouts for the exchange rate then... i wonder what it'll be a few years from now when i do finally pull the trigger...

set aside all the others... they are many great watches, wonderful and nice but... this is the one for me...

'in my watch i make a small representation of the universe... when you see the watch u open a small window on another world...' vianney halter






(text that follows and some of the images in this post are from the brand)


The Antiqua is the foundation model of the collection "Futur Antérieur". The Antiqua is a perpetual calendar watch. That is to say that it includes a calendar which displays not only the date, but also the day of the week, the current month and the cycle of the leap years. The perpetual calendar automatically accounts for the variable days of the months and for leap years.
Provided the movement is kept sufficiently wound, this wristwatch-sized mechanical computer needs intervention from its owner only once every 100 years. This extremely rare adjustment is required to take into account the fact that the turn of the centuries, e.g. 1900, or 2100, are not leap years despite being divisible by four.


The Antiqua features an original display composed of four discrete portholes. In order of decreasing diameter one can read : hour and minutes which are indicated by means of classical hands; month and year; day of the week; and the date which is visible through the small sighthole.


The Antiqua is fitted with the automatic caliber VH198 with 43 jewels. The VH198 is built on the base of mechanical elements – balance wheel and gear wheels - shared with the Lemania caliber 8810 but it uses specific baseplate and bridges designed by Vianney Halter and manufactured at La Manufacture Janvier.
The perpetual calendar complication as well as the automatic winding system are entirely designed and produced in-house at La Manufacture Janvier. The balance wheel frequency is 28'800 oscillations per hour. The power reserve is approximately 35 hours.

Mysterious Mass Rotor

To ensure an uninterrupted view of the VH198 caliber through the sapphire display back, the Antiqua is fitted with the so-called "mysterious mass" winding rotor.
In this system the oscillating mass, which allows wrist movement to wind the watch, is hidden behind a peripheral ring with no apparent link to the central rotor. This allows for a totally open view to the back of the movement. The "mysterious mass rotor" is a patented invention of Vianney Halter.


The making of this piece requires approximately 900 hours to complete. The case itself is composed of nearly 100 parts of 30 different kinds. The rivets, all machined in solid gold, are ubiquitous throughout the watch - portholes 42, top-plate 4, winding crown 24, base of crown 4, rotor 20, tang buckle 6, strap lugs 4. No fewer than 104 in total and contributing to the very special and unique style of the Antiqua.
The metal dials are composed of nine different elements and are hand-engraved so that each watch is unique. These are made in either platinum, yellow gold, or rose gold according to the case. The five blued-steel hands are hand-finished. The five sapphire crystals - four on top and one for the display back are coated with anti-reflective treatment on both faces.

Rotary winding box

The Antiqua is delivered with a certificate of authenticity in a beautiful watch-winder box. This keeps the watch perfectly wound when not worn on the owner’s wrist. This accessory allows the Antiqua to be used as a desk clock enabling it to be enjoyed it in all situations. When mounted inside the watch can be seen through a riveted porthole.
The motorized rotating watch support is powered by lithium batteries with a power reserve of approximately four years. The system is programmable and allows for variations in rotation frequency, direction and speed. The winding box is composed of more than 300 parts, weighs 1.75 Kg, and measures 150 mm x 110 mm x 140 mm. The box is entirely manufactured and assembled at La Manufacture Janvier. The rotary winding box is available in a selection of precious woods with the interior upholstered in suede.


The Antiqua is available in either yellow gold or rose gold. Dials are platinum and the rivets are made of white gold - with the exception of the rivets on the mysterious mass rotor which are always in yellow gold. The Antiqua is also available in a white gold or platinum case. These have contrasting rivets in either yellow gold or rose gold and with dials matching the rivets.
An all white metal Antiqua is the final option with a case in white gold or platinum. Dials are platinum and the rivets are made of white gold.
In total there are eight different versions of the Antiqua available.
The watch is supplied with a hand-sewn leather strap available in several colours and made of genuine alligator or goat leather. The strap has a tang buckle matching the case metal.





The Trio is the third model in the "Futur Antérieur" collection following on from the Antiqua and the Classic. The Trio is a form watch. Its curved rectangular case houses a specifically designed automatic movement. The Trio shares the same riveted portholes common to all of the "Futur Antérieur" collection. There are several portholes as with the Antiqua; however, for the first time these are now distributed on a rectangular, brush-finished case.
The principle porthole contains the hour and minute hands. The second-hand is in the smaller porthole located under and to the left of the main dial. Last, but certainly not least, we have the Grande Date. This is viewed through the two smaller portholes at the bottom right.

In-house movement and complications

Vianney Halter developed the all new VH205 caliber with 40 jewels specifically for the Trio. The movement parts – including bridges and Grande Date mechanism – are implemented to a rectangular baseplate designed and constructed especially for this watch.
The Grande Date mechanism alone comprises over 50 parts. It is designed to allow quick setting of the date utilizing the crown only. This type of function usually requires the complementary action of a pusher. The setting of the date and the time are completely independent. Thanks to this system, passing midnight while setting the time does not affect the date. Moreover, setting the time clockwise or anticlockwise is possible even around midnight without any risk of damaging the movement.

Not only does this sophisticated complication make the Trio Grande Date more convenient to use, thanks to the elimination of a pusher, it also enhances both water and dust resistance. The automatic winding system was entirely developed and realized at La Manufacture Janvier. As well as the other Vianney Halter watches it is fitted with the "Mysterious Mass Rotor" which preserves a totally open view to the VH 205 movement through the sapphire glass back. The balance wheel frequency is 28'800 beats per hour. The power reserve is approximately 60 hours.

CLASSIC... my classic ;)





do watch 'timepiece' as well...


Vianney Halter was graduated of the Ecole Horlogère de Paris (Paris Watchmaking School) in 1981. He earned his first spurs by restoring for several years vintage clocks and watches. Enriched by this experience, he settled down in Switzerland in 1990 and founded the Manufacture Janvier in Sainte-Croix. After having been designing and manufacturing timepieces for other brands for a couple of years, he launched in 1998 Les Montres Vianney Halter and presented his first watch that he called Antiqua Perpetual

Since then, surrounded by a team of passionate from worldwide, he designs and realizes the extraordinary watches that compose his two collections ‘"Futur Antérieur" et "Halter Tempus".


Member of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (Academy of Independent Watchmakers) Vianney Halter expresses by means of his watches his uncompromising point of view about horology : the creation in total freedom does not make sense if it is not supported by a rigourous technical design and an impeccable manufacturing, both respecting the know-how legated by the past generations of watchmakers and willing to transmit it to the next generations. Based on this philosophy, the Vianney Halter watches are designed and manufactured almost completly at La Manufacture Janvier.
From blocks of solid metal, each component is cut, machined, thermically treated and hand-finished with extreme meticulousness. Not a single screw, or a wheel or a spring does come out this workshop without going through a mercyless control. There are produced not only the movements but also all the casing elements : cases, buckles, strap lugs and even dials and hands. Only leather straps, jewels bearings or sapphire glasses are manufactured by specialized suppliers.


The Vianney Halter watches are produced in very small quantites. They offer traditionnal complications, featured in an innovative manner and a unclassifiable style. The "Futur Antérieur" collection is characterized by displaying the various functions through riveted portholes. Here are watches that one can imagine at Captain Nemo’s wrist while he pilots his Nautilus or worn by H.G Wells coming back from a time travel. The "Halter Tempus" collection gathers the pieces created by Halter but using a mere modern vocabulary of shapes. They are a resolutely contemporary point of view on multicentury old art of horology.
Less than 500 watches have come out the Manufacture Janvier workshops in 10 years. Each of them bears the values legated by more than 5 centuries of watchmaking history as well as the landmark of a contemporary independent creator.

i hope to be there someday... Manufacture Janvier in Ste-Croix


Anonymous said...

Oh, these are wonderful watches. I cannot decide between a VH or a Dufour... they make perfection in small quantities

raphael too said...

if you can swing it one of each :) there are some fantastic pieces from both of them.

Anonymous said...

It's worth mentioning that Jeff Barnes designed the Antiqua, which was first known as the "HALTER BARNES Time Machine Perpetual Antiqua." The civilized have no reason not to give credit where credit is due.

raphael too said...

yup Jeff Barnes did design the Antiqua, Classic and trio. it's something that is known to folks who love these timepieces(article on, in revolution magazine and other sources).
i believe after their falling out his name was dropped from the dials but a search should avail info on his involvement.
when you say the civilised are you referring to Vianney Halter not recognising having his name on the dial or me not noting it in my post?
If the former, he would go with it's his company and his realisation of the design to a watch and so it's his name on the dial. same as audemars piguet doesnt have the name of their designers on the dial of it's watches, eg gerald genta and the royal oak not to mention tons on un-named designers out there.
if me, then it's because i didn't think to post it at the time and had wanted to write a much longer article on it and wanted to contact Mr Barnes for his side of the story, but never found the time to get round to it and then it lapsed. Whatever the case, I know i wish Jeff Barnes was still designing watches as he gave us such great looking ones.
This passion should make folks happy yuh. if you're not having fun, since you're slinging judgements and sound a bit too serious, you're not doing it right.

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