It takes courage to abandon a career in finance and start out in high-end watchmaking. Emmanuelle and Rodolfo Festa Bianchet did precisely that: after selling Rodolfo’s company, they decided to design a limited-edition sporty, lightweight tourbillon watch in a tonneau case. The development process took four years, starting in 2017. While they knew exactly the arena that they were entering – Richard Mille has made sporty lightweight tonneau watches his leitmotif, and Franck Muller is another specialist in this area – they could never have forecast the health crisis. But, as they say, fortune follows the brave, and today, the Tourbillon B1.618 Openwork is ready. They presented it at Geneva Watch Days, 30 August-2 September 2021.
The Golden Mean at the heart of Bianchet
So what sets the Tourbillon B1.618 Openwork apart from the competition? First of all, price. The two versions, carbon and titanium, cost 44,500 and 46,500 Swiss francs plus tax respectively, very different from Richard Mille. The other talking-point can be found in the name, B1.618. That number is the famous Golden Mean beloved by Renaissance artists and visible throughout the natural world, generated by the equally famous Fibonacci sequence. Rodolfo Bianchet knew a lot about 1.618 because he had used it in his finance company Riflexo that created the first online trading app for smartphones. In fact, the Golden Mean can also be applied to trading psychology in order to detect and forecast market trends.
Movement, reduce to the max
This proportion can be found both in the design of the watch, and in that of the movement, created by a famous constructor and manufactured by Bianchet in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The Golden Mean underscores the overall proportions and the graceful curves of the bridges. The quest for pared-down beauty can be seen throughout, and it reflects both Rodolfo’s Italian origins and his wife Emmanuelle’s background: born in Rome to a French family of artists and musicians, she studied at the Conservatorio and works as a painter and sculptor.
The watch is powered by the Calibre B1.618, hand-wound with a power reserve of 105 hours and a shock resistance of up to 6,000 G. The movement design is based on the idea of reducing complexity as far as possible in order to offer maximum visibility and enhance its cool Italian looks.
Bianchet watches, light, tough, here to stay
The sporty DNA of the Tourbillon B1.618 Openwork can be found in the materials, carbon or titanium, used for the two versions, which weigh in at 33 grams and 55 grams respectively without the strap. Differently to their competitors, there are no visible screws on the case.
The two versions, carbon and titanium, are limited editions of 21 pieces, costing 44,500 and 46,500 Swiss francs plus tax. Light, strong, reliable and attractive, they are sold with a 5-year guarantee. Emmanuelle and Rodolfo Festa Bianchet have already developed a distribution network spanning the USA, the UK and the Caribbean, and they are working on the next model that will be presented in March 2022. For further information, see the Bianchet website.