Insider: Christophe Claret Aventicum. The Watch with a Mirascope and a Three Millimeter Marcus Aurelius Bust.

The Christophe Claret Aventicum is inspired by a gold bust of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius unearthed in 1939 at Avenches, Switzerland. At the heart of this timepiece, Christophe Claret has placed a small scale reproduction of this bust in gold measuring only 3 mm high and micro-engraved to resemble as much as possible —considering the scale— the original bust from where it takes its inspiration. Its full beauty can be appreciated thanks to mirascope optics that magnify and project the micro-sculpture like a three-dimensional hologram when the watch is held at a forty-five degree angle. Over 2,000 years ago, the Swiss town of Avenches was called Aventicum. As the capital of Roman Helvetia, Aventicum was an important political, economic and religious center. Christophe Claret hopes this timepiece will raise awareness about the Avenches Roman Museum so it receives support from the Swiss government to construct a new building to showcase the incredible heritage of Aventicum. The Christophe Claret Aventicum will be produced in a limited edition of 68 pieces in 18k red gold and titanium and only 38 pieces in 18k white gold and titanium.

The Dial

The micro-engraved gold replica of the Marcus Aurelius bust can be found in the center of the dial. The faithful, small scale representation of the Emperor —measuring less than three millimeters— is displayed in magnified form thanks to a clever invention called the mirascope. A mirascope is an illusion maker conformed of an object placed right above the center of a concave mirror sitting at the bottom and topped with another concave mirror on top with a small opening where the optical illusion gets reflected and becomes visible. In implementing this optical effect in Aventicum, the bust of Marcus Aurelius looks as if it is thrusting out of the middle of the watch.

Christophe Claret has always been intrigued by the history of Aventicum, which was the capital of Roman Helvetia for more than 300 years and the ruins of which now lie near the Swiss town of Avenches. Even today at the Aventicum excavation sites, archaeologists continue to unearth precious artifacts dating from this rich era of antiquity. Among the excavated objects was a priceless finding: a solid gold bust of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, which was found in 1939 when an old pipe was being cleaned.

But one must wonder, how can you tell time on this watch? Well, there are two carbon fiver discs underneath the center of the dial where the mirascope is located. These discs are held at the center pinion and each of them is equipped with a small red gold marker on its outer circumference and respectively marked with a letter 'H' or a letter 'M' to mark the hours and minutes with the help of the Roman numeral chapter ring.

The Case & Strap

Fitted with a nicely tripartite 44 mm case composed of a grey anthracite grade 5 PVD titanium middle case and an 18K red gold bezel and caseback, ref. MTR.AVE15.001-068 is simply stunning. The crown is very elaborate and is made of 18K red gold and grey anthracite grade 5 PVD titanium with cabochon in black PVD titanium. The watch is equipped with an elegant black alligator strap with black stitching and deployant buckle.

The Movement

Turning over the new Christophe Claret Aventicum, the patented, transparent sapphire-winding rotor of the automatic movement can be admired through the display back. The rotor is embellished with five numbered Roman Gaul racing chariots in full swing of a thrilling competition as it is now common on Christophe Claret timepieces that typically offer the ability to play a game with the oscillating weight of the watch by spinning it around and letting it stop randomly. The Christophe Claret automatic calibre AVE15 powering this timepiece is composed of 186 parts, 28 jewels and twin barrels and beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph to provide a power reserve of 72 hours when fully wound.

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the watch wears true to its size but extremely high on the wrist due to the thickness of its case —18.49 mm— and its super domed sapphire crystal.

The Christophe Claret in 18K red gold and titanium ref. MTR.AVE15.001-068 reviewed here is available in a limited edition of 68 pieces, while the 18K white gold and titanium model ref. MTR.AVE15.070-107 is available in a limited edition of only 38 pieces. 

Sticker Price CHF49,000 for 18K red gold and CHF53,000 for 18K white gold. For more info on Christophe Claret click here.