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Power Play

BOVET Knows You Can Never Have Enough Power

Since the dawn of watchmaking, horologists have aspired to create a mechanical watch that will run continuously without winding. With its incredible pocket watch introduced in 1910 that has 370 days of power reserve, more than one full year, BOVET set the record for the longest power reserve and came closer to this Holy Grail than anyone. Given the incredible lengths of power reserve in history, it’s a shame that today’s mechanical watches have an “standard” power reserve of 48 hours.

The House of BOVET celebrates the first exhibition case-back and the longest power reserve of any timepiece ever made. It is featured in the collection of the International Museum of Watches in La Chaux-de-Fonds.


Now that the entire world uses smart phones and electric vehicles, everyone understands how important it is to have enough power. If your electric car runs out of juice, it can leave you stranded on the side of the road. If your smart phone battery is drained, you are cut off from the rest of the world.

Power is an issue for mechanical watches as well. As more people own and wear more than one watch, this “standard” range just isn’t enough power.

Lengthening power reserve is not as easy as you might think, however. The power of a watch comes from its mainspring, so you can make the mainspring larger, which impacts the size of the watch, or you can use more than one mainspring, but that also makes the watch bigger. You can change the running rate of the watch to get a longer power reserve, but that might also change the precision of the watch. It’s a balancing act, but one that needs to be examined, as 48 hours (or even 70 hours) is just not long enough when you own more than one watch and like to switch them often.

Today, all BOVET timepieces using in-house, manufacture movements have a power reserve of at least five days, with some going up to 22 days, and even the entry point 19Thirty timepiece has a very useful 7 days of power reserve. Incredibly, BOVET accomplishes this feat of power management with a single barrel, and the watch itself is quite slim.


Exhibition caseback of BOVET’s 19Thirty

The secret?

Because BOVET is a manufacture, it has examined every piece and part and maximized its production and finishing to be as efficient as possible. For example, the bridge of each tourbillon is finished by hand at BOVET, and this single operation takes one watchmaker two working days to finish. Now, the chronometry and power reserve gain of this one operation is minimal, but when every piece and part goes through this same attention to detail, it is possible to realize power reserves that other companies can only dream about.

Serving the Customer

For Bovet, it is really about meeting the needs of its customers. Today’s watch collector owns a number of watches, and as much as we’d like them to always wear their BOVETs, they have more than one timepiece they love to wear (and they might have more than one BOVET), so it’s inevitable that some timepieces will be languishing until worn the next time. With a standard power reserve of 48 hours, when that collector goes to wear his other watches, chances are they will be wound down, which means resetting and rewinding.

Power reserve gets even more important with complications like multiple time zone watches or perpetual calendars. Even though these timepieces claim to not need adjusting for more than 100 years, if the power reserve runs out and the timepieces stop, they will need to be reset, and many are super complicated to set by the owner (figuring out leap years, consulting a moon phase table, etc.). There are some companies that even require the owner to take the timepiece into a boutique to be reset by a watchmaker. BOVET’s complicated watches are designed to be simple to reset, but the best of all possible worlds is to not let the watch ever run down.

That’s why BOVET focuses on long power reserves, to make it easier for owners to wear and enjoy their timepieces, without having to go through the trouble of resetting.

And, in addition, BOVET has special patents on winding systems that allow the full power reserve to be rewound quickly, with the minimal amount of crown turns, so collectors aren’t wasting their time rewinding their watches and are instead focusing on enjoying them.

More power means greater flexibility for watch lovers everywhere.

Power to the people!