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Guy Ellia by Christophe Claret Repetition Minute Zephyr Luxury Watch Review

BUY IT HERE: Welcome to the limit, the absolute summit of high horology engineering, finish, and imagination. There’s no Rolex atop this Everest, but Christophe Claret certainly is. The Guy Ellia by Christophe Claret Zephyr Repetition Minute is watchmaking’s equivalent that Mortal Combat fighter with every power dialed to the max. But big boys deserve big toys; put down the Super Nintendo and get ready to play like a REAL player… Originally envisioned as the first of twelve pieces, this Zephyr Repetition Minutes proved prohibitively complex to craft and too costly at its original MSRP for even the Mega Yacht set; only this example was built. Indeed, it’s a piece unique. In 2010, Guy Ellia, best known for gems and jewelry, made the smart decision to call in a heavy-hitter for the development of its flagship minute repeater, the Zephyr. Christophe Claret, best known within the industry for his ability to churn out grand complications for clients (and without the industry for his work on the Harry Winston Opus 4), got the call. The gem-setters stepped aside and let a real master build their piece. And the Christophe Claret Zephyr Repetition Minutes is a masterpiece in every sense. From its 3-D sapphire crystal case to its black polished repeater hammers, this $728,000 (MSRP) grand complication looks the part of a watchmaker’s fantasy come to life. It’s built on a grand scale with expense as no object; the case alone cost as much as a modest home to machine and finish. How does it wear? Quite comfortably, thanks for asking. At nearly three-quarters of a million dollars, Christophe Claret clearly built in a budget for ergonomic development, and the result is a watch that can fit securely on a wrist of almost any size. It spreads its considerable mass over a large surface area in order to avoid pressure points and hot spots. The absolute dimensions of the hybrid rose gold and sapphire case are 54mm from lug tip to lug tip, 44mm in width without the crown, and 15mm at its thickest point. A curved sapphire caseback contours to the wrist and arcs to meet the downward-sloped 18k rose gold end pieces. Any wrists between 15cm and 22cm will feel at home ensconced within the natural rubber strap. The sapphire crystal is cambered on its backside and faceted like one of Guy Ellia’s signature gems on the front. Within the case lies the main event; the Christophe Claret GEC88 manual-wind caliber. Just consider the bare numeric superlatives: 72 jewels, 720 parts, a cathedral gong minute repeater, a power reserve indicator (48 hours), five time zones, four AM/PM indicators, and several solid gold bridges. Completely openworked, the dial exposed every element of the GEC88 in its immaculately finished glory. While long on contemporary tech, the GEC88 show Claret’s virtuosity in traditional anglage, dressage, poli noir, cote de Geneve, and 18-karat rose gold bridges ennoble the movement’s every surface. Atop the balance wheel, an evocative black-polished swan’s neck fine regulator recalls the glory days of pocket watch manufacture. Contrasting rhodium, rose gold, and ruthenium finishes are employed to break of the mechanical jungle of metal. The large case gives Claret designers an opportunity to spread the movement over a large area and expose the inner works for the owner’s viewing pleasure. As a minute repeater, the Zephyr proves that exquisite function surrenders nothing to exuberant form. The black-polished repeater strikes act against concentric “cathedral” gongs, so named because their exceptional length requires a second coil around the circumference of the caliber GEC88’s mainplate. The repeating movement is anchored to the sapphire mid-section of the Zephyr case for exceptional tone, pitch, volume, and sustain. Five time zones may be four more than most users require, but the Christophe Claret Repetition Minute Zephyr eschews minimalism. The center hands track local time, and four time zones are displayed on the front and rear of the movement via barrel indicators for hours and reference cities. The reverse side of the case displays two additional time zones and two additional reference cities for a total of four subsidiary time displays in addition to the local time on the main dial. Each of the four remote time displays is backed by its own AM/PM indicator. Naturally, an epic watch deserves an epic boxed set. Once again, the Repetition Minutes Zephyr delivers on a Homeric scale; this watch ships from with a custom display box big enough to hold the entire garrison of Troy. Why scale Everest when you can conquer Olympus? When nothing less than the limit will do, Christophe Claret delivers – and exceeds expectations. Indulge in limitless beauty, detail, and complexity; see the Guy Ellia by Christophe Claret Zephyr Repetition Minutes in high-resolution images on Video and content by Tim Mosso.