Bulgari Papillon Heure Sautante

The Bulgari Papillon Heure Sautante is one of the latest marvels of haute horlogerie. A modern interpretation of timelessness.

BY Leong Wong | Nov 1, 2015 | Opinion

Photographs from Bulgari

The Papillon Heure Sautante is a member of the iconic range of watches created by the watchmaker par excellence, Daniel Roth, whose atelier, along with his master-watchmakers, is now owned by the Bulgari Haute Horlogerie division.

As we know, Roth was one of the forerunners in turning the world around to falling in love with mechanical watches. His distinctive and unique case shape design, which can be best described as a “squoval”, houses the papillion (French for “butterfly”). The retrograde hour, minute and second hands that sweep across the semi-circular dial looks like a butterfly wing-sweep. Over the years some of the most innovative and creative watches have been created from the Daniel Roth atelier.

Even when it was hot from the oven, the world’s watch watchers were bowled over by their first impressions of the Papillon Heure Sautante. In its earliest incarnations, we only had a chance to view it on our computer screens, and when we finally saw the timepiece in all its glory it was, indeed, a sight to behold with its delightful aesthetics and complications.

The watch is uncluttered and yet unusual in its design. However, when you take a closer look, it all makes sense. The time is easy to read. The black dial plays host to Arabic numerals whilst the index seconds markers is found around the outer flange. This is followed by a series of large Arabic numerals arranged in a semi-circle along the centre gold ring for the minutes. Further index markers in the inner ring are for the minute markers, and the black Arabic numeral hours are indicated by a digital jumping hour on white ceramic at 12 o’clock.

And now for the highlight: the centre dial consists of two wing-like gold hands that sit opposite each other but never at the same time, as each is designed to take turn reading the minutes. When one hand reads 55 minutes, the dance begins when they both are set in motion. The second hand will get into position and when the first hand lands on the 60th minute, the second hand will start reading its minutes from 00 on the semi-circular dial indexes and numerals arrangement. All numerals and indexes are in gold and the hands are in pink gold.

The engine that powers the dance is an in-house manufacture automatic mechanical movement Calibre BVL 252 with jumping hours function. This movement comes in a pink gold case. The watch also comes in white gold with matching indexes and hands.

First published in Esquire Singapore's November 2015 issue.