Watch gears

A regular watch uses small, complex systems to enable people to tell time. The Harry Winston Opus Eleven is far more intricate.


If you ask someone for the time and his answer is "Wow!" it's just possible he's wearing a Harry Winston Opus Eleven watch. This remarkable timepiece is one of the most ingenious, playful, and innovative wristwatches ever made. Of course, that distinction comes with a price: This cool watch sells for a cool $230,000.

The Opus Eleven is an example of a modern collectible watch. It's handmade and runs on a movement that is completely mechanical -- no motors or batteries. It's a piece of superb craftsmanship and a stunning example of sophisticated design. The complex mechanism is a source of continual amazement.

Harry Winston, Inc., one of the world's leading jewelers, introduced the Opus Eleven as a limited edition watch in 2011. Only 111 watches were made and each required four to five weeks to assemble [source: Giguet].

Opus Eleven's creator, Denis Giguet, spent 18 months designing a watch "to explode the time" [source: Giguet]. He wanted the numeral indicating the hour to fly apart in three dimensions -- not an easy feat to pull off inside the confines of a wristwatch. His watch created a sensation when it was introduced at Baselworld, the annual Swiss watch and jewelry show.

The Opus Eleven has three parts:

  • The hour is shown as an Arabic numeral beneath a raised, sapphire crystal dome. A complex, exposed mechanism assembles the number from separate placards.
  • The minutes are indicated on two disks visible in a cylinder that projects from the side of the main case.
  • The balance wheel can be seen in a second cylinder below and to the side of the first, marking time with its rhythmic swing.

If a watch makes a statement about its owner, the Opus Eleven shouts. The white gold case is big and flashy, measuring 2 by 1.75 inches (54 by 43 millimeters), and it's fully three-quarters of an inch (19.5 millimeters) thick. The back is transparent, revealing part of the movement. If your yacht sinks, the watch is waterproof down to 30 meters (98 feet) [source: Haute Horologie]. A black alligator-leather strap with gold buckle holds this sizeable watch on your wrist.

It's not surprising that such a watch would come from Harry Winston. Especially when you consider the company's innovative line of timepieces.