Clockwise, Sunwise, & Reverse: Introducing The Bélier Reverse By Kim Djapri
In case you didn’t know, almost no one has ever seen him- or herself accurately in a mirror.
At least, not technically. I’ll grant that most people in the developed world have, almost certainly, looked at their reflections in a mirror or a highly polished surface. But due to the nature of light and how it bounces off objects, what you are seeing isn’t actually what you look like. In the typical single-reflection mirror, what you see is the reflection, or reversed image, of what the rest of the world sees.
This is why the part in your hair is actually on the opposite side to your friends, or the words on your shirt are illegible when you stand in front of the mirror. If you stand directly perpendicular to the mirror surface, the light bouncing from your body is reflected straight back toward you with no variation due to its angle of incidence, or the angle between a light ray on a surface and the line perpendicular to the surface at the point of contact or incidence.
The mirror is showing you exactly the light you are reflecting, and from your perspective you see a reversed image. Left hand, left side, right leg, right side. But you perceive your reflection in reverse since that is how you see other people, and so their right hand is therefore to your left side.
This artifact of perception can be manipulated with a non-reversing mirror, sometimes called a “true” mirror. This is a combination of two mirrors mounted perfectly flush and perpendicular to each other. The viewer, or object to be viewed, is moved directly in line with the joint and 45 degrees away from each mirror.
Looking into the corner, the reflection from both mirrors is reflected again off the other mirror, performing a double reversing of the image. This mirror, then, shows exactly what the mirror “sees” or what another person would see when looking at you.
Unless you use this type of setup to check your hair or makeup, you are looking at yourself reversed. But we’ve all gotten used to this as the norm, and in many cases are so familiar with looking at ourselves backwards that we would think we look weird if we actually saw ourselves normally.
So as we gaze into our reversed image and view a reversed world, we deserve a watch that would complement this alternate viewpoint. For this we have something special made by an independent watchmaker and new A.H.C.I. candidate: the Bélier Reverse by Kim Djapri.
Reverse is the new forward
Kim Djapri, a watchmaker with Lang & Heyne and boutique manager at Tempus Arte in Dresden, exhibited at the A.H.C.I. booth at Baselworld 2016 a micro-brand and a timepiece all his own, one that seeks to reflect like a mirror what he has seen in the watch industry, but with his own twist added.
His new brand Bélier (which means “Aries” in French, Djapri’s zodiac sign) is the banner under which his new watch, christened Reverse, has been built. This watch is perfect allegory for reflection in a timepiece.
The movement in the Reverse is almost literally a reflection of a classic movement with everything where it should be but backward as if the watch was looking at itself in a mirror. The dial with hours and minutes runs counterclockwise, and the numbers are arranged likewise.
Now, if it truly were a “reflection” of a watch, the numbers would be backward as well, however they are facing forward because, well, we have to be able to read it somehow.
The same goes for the small second subdial, which moves counterclockwise with the numbers presented in the same descending fashion, yet still reading as forward-facing numerals. Beside the watch name and the brand name written across the dial, there is no other indication that you are actually looking at a reflected movement.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It appears completely normal until you begin to look closely.[/pullquote]
When reality sets in, you realize you really are basically looking at the back of a classic time-only movement. It even looks remarkably similar in layout to an example illustration of a basic gear train. The twist is that those gear train examples are on the reverse side of a standard watch movement.
And that makes all the difference
This layout is rather normal, and when the rotation of the wheels is viewed from the “front” of those watches, they are rotating in a clockwise direction. In other watches where the movement components are moved to the front of the dial, extra wheels would need to be added to change the direction of rotation back to the standard and accepted direction. It is no coincidence that right-hand rotation is called clockwise motion.
But with the Bélier Reverse, Djapri instead chose to remind everyone how seemingly arbitrary that motion really is – and that it is just a result of where clocks were invented. Since the clock’s predecessor – the sundial – was invented in the northern hemisphere, it followed that due to the natural rotation of the earth, the shadow on a sundial moved from left to right, a sweep that was known as “sunwise” direction.
But this was only true for horizontally mounted sundials. If a sundial was mounted vertically on a wall, then the motion went the opposite way (thanks, geometry).
The latter were less common, so it became accepted to rotate from left to right. Even still, some clocks and watches were modeled after the vertical sundial’s movement, one of the most famous being the astronomical clock in the Münster Cathedral that rotates counterclockwise.
Hmm . . . famous German clock that rotates counterclockwise, and a new watch designed by an accomplished German watchmaker that does the same thing? Interesting.
And one final touch that, while not necessary in the theme of reflection, but going hand in hand with the Reverse ideals, is the application of pivot jewels for the balance wheel. Normally, a balance wheel is set into a rigidly mounted pivot jewel, sometimes a screwed chaton holding the jewel bearing in the main plate. The balance is then secured on the opposite end by the balance bridge, which in most modern watches holds an anti-shock jewel assembly with a spring clip that allows for some movement during a firm shock.
In historical and classical pieces, there was no anti-shock device, simply another rigidly mounted jewel bearing.
When you go back far enough to look at historical pieces of impeccable quality, you’ll see that the capstone on the balance bridge was really a jewel, cut and ground like an exquisite piece of jewelry. In this, Djapri opted for historical appearance by adding a faceted ruby jewel mounted in a gold chaton that has been screwed to the balance bridge.
This choice looks fantastic, of course, but might be seen to err too much on the side of luxurious tradition and eliminate the highly functional (and safe) anti-shock device.
Djapri has an answer for that.
The balance assembly isn’t inverted as this wouldn’t make much sense and instead make it much more difficult to assemble and adjust. No, the balance isn’t reversed, but the positioning of the jewels is. When you flip over the watch and look at the rear side you will notice, in the center just below the winding mechanism, a hole with a jewel mounted inside. And holding that jewel in place: an anti-shock spring clip!
The modern and the classic have come to coexist in harmony while keeping the visual appearance in mind at all times.
Attention to the finer points
This attention to detail can be seen throughout the Reverse, whether it be the symmetrical and mirrored placement of the blued screws securing the balance bridge and main dial, or the “floating” subsidiary seconds ring mounted via a disk of sapphire crystal allowing the mechanism underneath to peek out.
The balance wheel’s spokes feature very tiny gothic points, adding a touch of flair to a part you may never see stand still.
There is a polished ring in the center of the blued steel second hand to create contrast on the perfectly finished piece. Right next door is an oversized counterbore for the mounting screw on the bridge at 9 o’clock, adding visual interest; it is the only one of its kind on the movement.
On the rear of the movement, that visual effect is added in a new way with a hand-engraved border encompassing the entire winding mechanism plus four other screw heads. It is a lovely addition that feels like ripples in the metal – not dissimilar to ripples in a pond during a light rain.
It is the combination of these and other tiny details that make the Reverse such an incredible piece. When you add the fact that it is an entirely independently made watch finished to such an incredible level your mind begins to utterly blow.
The emergence of another talent of this caliber with such as sense of design is a big deal, and bodes well for the future of independent watchmaking. If this piece is any indication of Djapri’s future as an independent watchmaker, we can expect more interesting ideas from Bélier.
In the meantime, I will start counting my pennies for one of these very limited pieces and lust for the Reverse as I go. I may be counting for a while, but this watch is definitely worth the effort.
And till then, let’s break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.92 The general look of this piece in incredible, and when the reality of the name sinks in and you understand the watch is actually in reverse, it is definitely a big wowza.
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 99.2 » 972.82 m/s2 The gilt plates and bridges, the heavy precious metals, and the unabashed awesomeness of this watch makes for some serious late-night lusting.
- M.G.R. * 66.7 The quality of finishing and construction of this movement is top notch, and the uniqueness of the reverse movement must be commended as an introduction for a new independent brand!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A Time-only, no big surprise here. Keeping it simple makes for an awesome timepiece. The execution is where it’s at. Still, there is no need for any Gotta-HAVE-That cream, but I know I will need some medication to calm my beating heart!
- Ouch Outline * 12.3 A grand piano lid slamming hard down on your fingertips! Yowza, that would certainly smart something serious. And the ruckus made by the piano wouldn’t make it much better. Though I still reckon I would gladly accept that owie if it meant I got one of the 33 pieces planned for this edition!
- Mermaid Moment * Whoa, is that backwards?! Yup, it moves in reverse, while your love for it grows. This way it balances out so you have all the time you need to plan the big day!
- Awesome Total * 743 Multiply the number of jewels (25) with the diameter (46.4 mm) and from the result, subtract the platinum alloy number (950) to find the increditastically awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.belier-watches.com/reverse.
Case: 46.4 mm, pink gold, white gold, or platinum
Movement: manually winding Bélier Manufacture Caliber B-01R
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds with stop-seconds mechanism
Limitation: 33 pieces, 11 in each metal
Price: €49,900 in pink gold; €54,900 in white gold; €68,200 in platinum