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Diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies — these precious gems have adorned the crowns of countless kings and queens, but no gems capture the imagination quite like opal. Until the past century, this iridescent gemstone was one of the rarest and most prized of all precious gems on earth, a gem fit for royalty, indeed. With its dynamic and ever-shifting hues, staring into the heart of an opal is like staring into the heart of a swirling galaxy, supernovas and nebulae swirling with the shifting of the light. Despite opal’s ethereal beauty, the use of opal in watchmaking has been extremely limited, largely due to the challenges in working with the material, yet Aventi dared to imagine the impossible beauty that could be achieved with an opaline case. Today, the Swiss independent brand brings this dream to life in the Aventi Enygma A18-01 White OpalyteTM, a tourbillon-equipped timepiece with a groundbreaking OpalyteTM case.
Ever since humankind first stumbled upon opals, deep within fissures of rock, we’ve been fascinated by the color-shifting dance beneath the surface of the gem. Nearly two millennia ago, in 77CE, Pliny the Elder wrote of opal, “There is in them a finer fire than the garnet, there is the shining purple of the amethyst, there is the sea-green of the emerald, all equally resplendent in an incredible fusion.” It’s hard to argue with that assessment.
Unlike other gemstones, the shifting hues, like the iridescence on the throat of a hummingbird, create a mesmerizing optical effect as the minerals trapped within the matrix of the gem, and its complex internal structure cause white light to diffract, producing flashes of colored light. It’s this otherworldly effect that so captures the imagination. Yet, creating a watch case directly from opal is nearly impossible due to the difficulty of working with the material. Too much pressure or an inadvertent bump during cutting and polishing and the opal cracks and flakes. Thus, even if you could craft a case from opal, it would hardly be practical for daily wear as one inadvertent bump against a doorframe would spell disaster. But these challenges didn’t dissuade Aventi from the possibilities — they just needed a way to improve upon nature. Enter OpalyteTM.
By fusing 80% silica and 20% proprietary polymer, Aventi was able to create a material that captures all of opal’s delicate, color-shifting hues, while doing so in an incredibly strong and resilient material. In other words, you get all of the ethereal beauty of opal, but with a strength that Mother Nature could never match. One of opal’s attributes that keeps connoisseurs coming back time and time again is the uniqueness of the material: no two pieces are ever alike. The construction of OpalyteTM creates this natural process, meaning that no two Enygma watches will be the same. Coupled with Aventi’s signature polygonal case shape, the Engyma is a true standout in the world of horology.
The dial on the Aventi Enygma is a perfect complement to the OpalyteTM case, showcasing the skeletonized GT-01S movement beneath. Aventi is no stranger to skeletonization, but the Enygma takes a new approach, with a fully luminous dial that allows the swirling galaxies of color within the OpalyteTM to shine day or night. Sitting atop the dial are sapphire crystal hands with luminous inlays. Contrasting against the snowy white of the dial are cherry red accents that bring out the warm hues within the case.
The skeletonized dial is designed to allow the GT-01S caliber to be on full display. A centuries-old concept first developed by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the tourbillon regulator is hypnotic, with the escapement and balance wheel spinning away in a rotating cage. Not surprisingly, this complication typically requires many components — 40 on average. Through a comprehensive redesign, the tourbillon on the Enygma is pared down to a mere 18 components, allowing for increased precision and reliability.
In addition to the tourbillon, the GT-01S caliber is crafted from Grade 5 titanium and coated with DLC carbon. The result is a movement that is not just stunning to behold with the contrasting blued screws and perlage decoration, but lightweight, resistant to magnetic fields up to 2,000 Gauss, and able to withstand accelerations up to 5,000G. The hand-winding movement has a power reserve that surpasses 100 hours and boasts better-than-COSC accuracy of +/- 4 seconds/day, thanks to in-house calibration.
This innovative movement was only possible by partnering with Switzerland’s top Maisons, like Atokolpa, TEC Ebauches, and Generale Ressorts. You may not recognize their names, but these are the manufacturers to which the biggest names in haute horlogerie turn. Aventi’s approach to watchmaking harkens back to an earlier era in Swiss watchmaking, one in which brands and designers focused not on vertical integration but on bringing their ideas to life with the best manufacturing partners, and suppliers that have been honing their specialized craft for centuries.
Though unabashedly modern and avante-garde in its aesthetic, the Enygma is, above all, a watch meant to be worn. To ensure daily wearing comfort, the Enygma is mounted on a custom-molded white FCR rubber strap. Like every other aspect of the watch, the strap is made with every detail considered — from the ventilation holes to the cutout for the crown, to the Grade 5 titanium butterfly clasp with quick release and easy size adjustment.
The Aventi Enygma encapsulates the Aventi ethos, fusing the beauty and inspiration of nature with technological innovation in a design that is like no other. The Aventi Enygma A18-01 White OpalyteTM is priced at CHF 88,000; however, their watches are available by allocation only in order to avoid unscrupulous profiteering. To learn more about the Aventi Enygma and to register your interest, please visit the brand’s website.
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