A few weeks back, the 20th of February to be exact, Ian Skellern of Quill & Pad unloaded quite the bomb on the Interwebs with a compressive and detailed introduction to the Agengraphe by Agenhor. A significantly re-thought chronograph since — as Ian put it — since the invention of the chronograph.
But what would compel one to make such a bold claim? The answer to that question is quite possibly the only simple one this this entire episode. It’s because Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, the movement-magician that he is, has, in fact, given traditional approaches to chronograph mechanisms a right and good kick in the posterior.
You can go on to read Ian’s deep explanation of the mechanism that Jean-Marc’s dreamt up, but allow me to — attempt — giving you the CliffsNotes.
So, we start with the overall movement, which is in essence the same one used in the 2016 Visionnaire DTZ minus the central second timezone display. Instead, the complete chronograph indication mechanism is mounted here now on the center cam shaft. More on this later.
The meat of innovation in the AgenGraphe is in its clutch system, which takes the traditional horizontal clutch system and smoothens it out — quite literally. You see, the wheel on the clutch that engages the wheel on the chronograph cam shaft are both toothless.
Let that sink in. So, sans-teeth it’s just the edge of the two wheels that engage and start the chronograph. The intention here is that you wouldn’t experience the initial hiccup that the chronograph second hand, otherwise, displays when two toothed wheels engage.
Downside, though, is that there is a tendency for the two smooth edges to sort of recoil off each other when they first meet. But here, Jean-Marc’s worked in a fail-safe measure. On top of the two toothless wheels there is yet another fine-toothed wheel, with angled tooth surfaces, which keep the clutch engaged to the cam shaft even in the momentary disengage between the toothless wheels. Post recoil, the smooth-edged wheels are brought back into contact by a spring incorporated into the structure of the clutch.
All of that innovation. It’s all good. But to what end? Put the two together now. The AgenGraphe, which has all the entire chronograph mechanism centrally mounted and the DTZ, which allows a complication to be displayed in the center of the dial. You get a chronograph which has its seconds, minutes and hours all in the center of the watch face.
No more having to look at multiple sub-dials in addition to the central seconds chronograph hand and work out elapsed time. Now you have all that information concisely presented in the center of the dial. Say whatever you will, however, this seemingly simple reorganization of the chronograph layout does take a good dose of thinking out of the box to come out with.
Again, with ease of use in mind, the chronograph pushers are placed on the top of the watch (at 10 and 2 o’clock) case for easy operation on and off the wrist. Oh, and the last thing, the chronograph minute and hour hands are mounted on snail cam paired wheels, which make the hands jump instantaneously.
Crap, no wait, there’s one other thing. The AgenGraphe is an automatic chronograph movement. Its rear mounted rotor has a platinum weight and rotates without any ball bearings or other means. It’s simply two metal plates that glide over one another with the aid of a thin layer of lubricant.
Okay, think we’ve got the important bits covered now. More — and a real-life, hands-on test of this novel approach to one of horology’s greatest love affairs, which is the chronograph — will have to come when Revolution meets with Fabergé — and hopefully Jean-Marc too — at Baselworld, just two weeks away.
Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph — Technical Specifications
AgenGraphe Caliber 6361, self-winding movement; hours and minutes; central chronograph (24 hours, 60 minutes, 60 seconds); 60-hour power reserve
43mm, rose gold or DLC treated titanium
Alligator leather with rose gold and titanium Fabergé folding clasp