Cecil Purnell is a name that only a few hundred watch collectors know very well and a name that only a handful of people in the watch industry understand what it stands for and the type of product they put out there. Luckily, we are within that select group, and that’s why we are presenting you the just-released C. Purnell Spherion watch with our usual live pictures and captivating macro photography. Much like other independent horologists that prefer to remain ultra-exclusive, C. Purnell flies under the radar with little to no advertising, no mass communications, limited distribution, and their unique business model. However, regardless of the lack of media exposure their watches are incredible and a real treat for the eyes.
About the Brand
C. Purnell a.k.a Cecil Purnell was named after the WWI soldier with the same name that was injured in the battlefield and that while recovering, taught himself watchmaking and subsequently became fascinated by Abraham-Louis Breguet and the tourbillon. C. Purnell was founded by Jonathan Purnell who is the grandson of that WWI soldier and a man that began his career in the world of watches back in 1977 as a watch dealer. In 2006 he decided to chase his dreams and along with watch industry professional Stéphane Valsamides, founded Cecil Purnell SA —later shortened to C. Purnell— in the Swiss Jura mountains to honor his grandfather and the tourbillon.
From the brand’s inception, every timepiece created has included a tourbillon, and the use of it has remained the driving philosophy behind C. Purnell to date. In 2009, after three years of development, C. Purnell launched its first calibre developed fully in-house, the CP3000, and transferred the company’s operations to Geneva, Switzerland. Over the past fifteen years, C. Purnell has created 13 tourbillon calibres and sold more than 700 timepieces. This independent brand who continues to pursue the creation of artistic horological masterpieces typically produces up to fifty pieces a year to ensure quality and exclusivity. However, in the case of the new Spherion Triple-Axis Tourbillon, this watch is limited to just one or two pieces per month.
To develop the Spherion, C. Purnell teamed up with legendary master watchmaker Eric Coudray and TEC Ebauches. Coudray, the mastermind behind incredible timepieces such as the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon and the Cabestan Trapezium, worked with C. Purnell for more than two years to develop this masterpiece. Eric Coudray departed Jaeger-LeCoultre to join independent watchmaker Cabestan in further developing the brand’s concept and mechanics after independent watchmaker Vianney Halter left the project. This collaboration eventually produced a highly reliable vertical tourbillon for the Winch model. Later Coudray developed the Trapezium while helping to create a stronger brand. In 2012 Eric Coudray won the Gaïa Prize for his innovative mastery of watchmaking, cementing his position as one of the great watchmakers of our time. Coudray eventually left Cabestan and joined TEC Ebauches, where he has played a role in developing movements and mechanisms for a variety of brands throughout the watch industry, including the Spherion for C. Purnell.
About the Watch
Spherion’s triple-axis tourbillon rotates a full 360 degrees in just eight seconds, optimizing precision by averaging out the effects of gravity on the escapement. Thus, it is without a doubt the World’s Fastest Triple-Axis Tourbillon. The inner tourbillon cage of the Spherion triple-axis tourbillon makes more than seven rotations each minute —less than eight seconds—; the inner, middle and outer tourbillon cages all rotate at higher velocities than previously attained in a triple-axis tourbillon: 8 seconds, 16 seconds, and 30 seconds respectively.
The new C. Purnell is available in five different configurations that include 18K rose or white gold, polished or satin-blasted grade 5 titanium, or in black DLC-coated titanium like the one we are featuring here. The case is massive and robust measuring 48 mm in diameter by a whooping 19 mm in thickness due to the domed sapphire crystal that’s been utilized. The triple-axis tourbillon may be the raison d'être —purpose— of the Spherion, nevertheless, the case and crystal designs are crucial to its owner’s experience.
The battle for design integrity resulted in many case manufacturers being unwilling to take up the challenge as it was said to be too difficult to create a complex sapphire crystal in the required shape. Finally, a crystal manufacturer willing to attempt such a risky design was found, and once development on the sapphire crystal began it took another fourteen months. While the movement was ready after two years of research, development, and prototyping, allowing Spherion to be released in late 2016, but development of the sapphire crystal delayed the launch.
The unusual sapphire crystal, features an astonishing sapphire crystal window with a vertical wall at 6 o’clock stretching all the way to the bottom of the case to provide an unimpeded view of the multi-axis tourbillon. The complex case and crystal design are both critical features for optimally displaying the tourbillon in action.
As if creating the world’s fastest triple-axis tourbillon and a complicated sapphire crystal was not enough, Spherion is also customizable by design with five case options and myriad color choices for the dial, hands and outer tourbillon cage. The outermost tourbillon cage can be customized to the client’s color or finish preference using a variety of methods, including anodizing, hydrographics and applied lacquer. The dial and hands can also be customized to match or accent the outer tourbillon cage using applied lacquer in the client’s colors of choice. With so many available options, each Spherion becomes a unique and mesmerizing creation with the highest level of exclusivity. The Spherion is delivered on a crocodile or silicone rubber strap with a gold, titanium or black DLC-coated titanium deployment clasp.
The C. Purcell Spherion’s open movement architecture makes for a very light calibre in terms of both aesthetics and weight, coming in at just 15.7 grams. When combined with the option of a titanium case, the Spherion becomes a featherweight packing a huge horological punch. Composed of 247 parts and 30 jewels, the C. Purnell Calibre CP01 packs a 40-hour power reserve and Spherion is a whirlwind of micro-mechanics with three ultra-light yet rigid titanium cages rotating at hitherto unseen velocities. The innermost cage containing the balance rotates once in eight seconds—lightning speed compared to conventional tourbillons. The secondary cage rotating once every 16 seconds doubles that time, while the outermost tourbillon cage takes only 30 seconds for a 360-degree rotation, making this multi-axis tourbillon a turning point in ultra-high-speed tourbillon regulators.
The high velocity made development of the tourbillon cages a tricky task. These had to be very rigid and stable to withstand the forces generated, but light enough that the twin mainsprings would power the mechanism with ample power reserve. Balance was key, while keeping the cages as compact as possible was crucial. The clearance between cages was kept to a minimum, between 0.1 and 0.2 mm, no thicker than a sheet or two of paper. This small size, combined with the complex geometry, resulted in a very light triple-axis tourbillon assembly weighing in at just 0.79562 grams—less than the weight of a standard paperclip. Still, this marvel needs support and protection, so the entire triple-axis tourbillon utilizes eight Incabloc assemblies to maximize shock resistance.
On the Wrist & Pricing
Not much to be said other than the fact that this is one of the most special watches out there and a true feat of horology. The C. Purnell Spherion wears big on the wrist but light as a feather. An incredible piece of horology that can be fully customized in terms of color scheme and with five case options. If you want a very exclusive timepiece and you have the money to play, look no further.
Sticker Price Starting at CHF 285,000 USD. For more info on C. Purnell click here.