Vianney Halter, the Swiss watchmaker widely credited with ushering in the independent watchmaking renaissance with his retro-futuristic wristwatch, the Antiqua, in 1998, has just released a new timepiece—and it’s a doozy.
Twenty-five years in the making, the Deep Space Resonance is a triple-axis tourbillon equipped with an acoustic coupling mechanism incorporating two balance wheels. But that description hardly does this wild piece of timekeeping justice.
A tribute to undulatory physics, or the theory that light is transmitted as waves, the model is the product of an R&D effort Halter began in 1996, when he conceived of an acoustically resonant double-balance timepiece. Inspired by some of 18th-century watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet’s early efforts to achieve resonance—a physical phenomenon in which an external force or a vibrating system forces another system around it to vibrate with greater amplitude at a specified frequency of operation—Halter began constructing a model in 2007 using two Russian deck watches with identical gear trains. In order to achieve the desired acoustic phenomenon, he linked their respective oscillators with a solid bridge, as in a tuning fork.
In 2016, scientific discovery of gravitational waves emanating from two collapsing black holes, measured by a resonance-based space-time seismograph, seized Halter’s imagination and impressed upon him the need to conclude his long-simmering project. Having introduced the Deep Space Tourbillon in 2013—designed to evoke the four dimensions, the watch featured a triple-axis tourbillon surrounded by a display of time—he decided to use the model as the foundation for his resonating oscillators.
He built a working demonstration of the two balances in 2019 and spent all of 2020 creating a working prototype of the Deep Space Resonance wristwatch. In keeping with Halter’s sci-fi leanings, the dial of the manually wound model (with 65 hours of power reserve) is a nod to the vernier caliper, a tool that gives a direct reading of the distance measured with high accuracy and precision. Using a scale-like display, as on the measuring instrument, it features hours and quarters in an aperture at the top, while minutes appear in a bottom aperture.
The model, which retails for CHF 860,000 (about $972,000), excluding taxes, shipping and insurance, is available now for pre-order. Halter says the first delivery will take place in early summer. Due to the amount of work required to create the Deep Space Resonance, Halter will not make more than two per year, according to a spokesperson.