The Papillion d’Or has been created to celebrate Andreas Strehler’s 20th anniversary as an independent watchmaker.
Like a butterfly
Papillon is the French name for butterfly, an insect belonging to the order Lepodoptera. A butterfly is light and delicate. But, as it has been around for over 40 million years, it is a very intelligently designed organism.
Like the Papillon d’Or: A large solid gold bridge in the form of a butterfly holds the superbly finished gear train with its two transparent sapphire crystal gear wheels supports the white fired silver dial ring. Delicate yet sturdy.
The lift generated by a flying butterfly is more than what can be accounted for by steady-state, non-transitory aerodynamics. Its way to fly looks simple but to understand it, one has to know about things like wake capture, vortices at the wing edge, rotational mechanisms and Weis-Fogh ‘clap-and-fling’ mechanisms.
On the back of the Papillion d’Or, the power of reserve is indicated. This looks like a simple hand on a simple scale. But in fact it incorporates what is probably the world’s smallest differential gear. This, of course, is built with Andreas Strehler’s own true conical gear wheels.
Power and reserve
The Papillon d’Or is a hand wound watch. It needs winding after 78 hours, which means that in can be left alone for a long weekend, when a sports watch (or no watch at all) is worn by its owner.
To show when some loving care in the form of gently winding the watch is necessary, the Papillon d’Or features a power reserve indication on its back.
A scale divided into ten segments shows the power left in the two mainspring barrels, linked with each other by a differential gear. Hence, one segment is equal to 10 percent of power. If the two mainsprings are wound down to the end of their linear supply of power and before the power irregularly decreases, the movement is stopped by a stop-works.
The hand indicating the power reserve is mounted on the balance-cock. The power reserve hand thus is in its logical place, as the balance only oscillates as long as there is power from the two mainspring barrels to keep it moving.
However, what looks so obvious is in fact anything but: To place the power reserve hand on the balance-cock was only possible by using components which are very small even by watchmaking standards such as a micro differential gear.
Micro Differential Gear
The butterfly has always been the visible leitmotiv of Andreas Strehler’s watchmaking. In the Papillon d’Or, it is evident in the solid gold bridge forming the central element of the movement.
Less visible but equally one of the trademark features of Andreas Strehler’s watches is the use of true conical gear wheels and of differential gears. For the clever use of these, Andreas Strehler is famous among his peers and his customers in the watch industry alike. In the Papillon d’Or, true conical gear wheels most visibly are used in the winding mechanism. They guarantee as smooth winding operation with practically no wear.
Invisibly, true conical wheels are used in the power of reserve indication. This mechanism consists of what must be the smallest differential gear used in a watch.
In watchmaking, finissage, or finishing in English, means the final treatment of each component of a watch movement. The bridges, wheels and even screws are treated with various methods to make them look perfect and to bring out the beauty of the movement.
Originally, in the days when movements and their components were entirely made and assembled by hand, finishing also served the purpose of covering the traces left by the hands, files and screwdrivers of the watchmakers when they made the parts and assembled the watch.
Until a few years ago, finishing was invisible. It was invisible to all but to the watchmakers who opened the metal case of the watch to service or repair the movement. Thus, finishing was also a message from one watchmaker to the next, telling about the care and diligence in making the movement.
Today, finishing is form of art and an expression of respect of the watchmaker for the tradition of his craft.
At Andreas Strehler, the edges of all brides are bevelled and polished by hand. This is a lengthy and difficult process. It can only properly be done by hand. Where two edges meet at an acute or inward angle, bevelling and polishing becomes even more difficult. Even the great watch manufacturers dare not reach these angles. Andreas Strehler does. And he does not round corners.