Lift Off

Vanguart’s interstellar Black Hole and brand new Orb show the watch world just how you make a meteoric impact, from left field, out of the blue 

The brainchild of Thierry Fischer, creative director, and two hotshots ex of Switzerland’s Renaud & Papi hothouse, Vanguart’s new Orb pirouettes a tourbillon while its titanium rotor is brought dial-side

Going into 2020, the timing probably  wasn’t what you’d call ideal for launching a high-concept wristwatch brand.  The finer points of any fine timepiece are impossible to convey to clients by
Zoom, even if they have remembered  to turn off ‘mute’. But as the founding  chairman of Vanguart – an ‘artistic’  approach at the ‘vanguard’ of contemporary horology – attests, it was
a blessing in disguise.

“We had two years to prove its  precision and reliability,” Mehmet Koruturk says, “on wrists, every day and in the real world. (“Well, whenever you could venture into the real world,” he adds wryly.)

There was never any real doubt, as the provenance of Koruturk’s nimble-fingered, polymath co-founders  doesn’t come much more golden. Axel Leuenberger and Jérémy Freléchox  both hail from Audemars Piguet’s Renaud & Papi: the bleeding-edge hothouse for 21st-century horological soup-ups since the 90s (Richard Mille’s original one-stop shop, say no more). Concomitantly, it’s a hothouse  for precocious talent and elite splinter brands such as Greubel Forsey with their €200k-plus flea circuses for the wrist.

Controlled back and forth by a ‘joystick’ crown, the debut Black Hole toys with time just as its titular astrological phenomenon does

Vanguart’s opening salvo of 2019  – or a sleeper hit of 2022, however you choose to see it – was the Black Hole, just two years in development. That COVID-enforced testbed certainly guaranteed wearability, since its  ‘fuselage’ as the brand likes to say, rides your wrist imperceptibly, helped by an instantly switchable, flowing rubber strap.

The eponymous vortex-like dial architecture – with a planetary body spinning above its apex in the form of  a flying tourbillon carriage – isn’t just an aesthetic pun. One of what looks like two rocket boosters on the right is what Vanguart calls a ‘joystick’.
And like a black hole, it genuinely distorts time: you can select between normal, reading digitally across three numerals at 9 o’clock, its concentric numeral rings flicking clockwise every passing minute; or you can switch it to a countdown, with time running backwards.

Vanguart may be hip to the game and fashion-forward, but there’s copperbottomed nous rocket-boosting its alien mechanics

Things are now pared back for 2024, with a seemingly conventional three-hander (though still with that mesmeric saucer flying centre stage). But further inspection of the Orb reveals a diamond ‘dot’ on the circumference, orbiting back and forth. It’s the only sign of another feat in circular gymnastics from Vanguart, who’ve managed to engineer the winding rotor dial-side, rather than in its usual position riding the movement’s baseplate: a concave titanium ring spinning  perfectly flush between titanium bezel and dial.


This article is taken from 10:10 issue 10, included with Port issue 34. To continue reading, order your copy or subscribe here.