The absolute best part of Baselworld isn't just the discovery of new watches you expect companies to release, but even more so those watches that you would have never expected them to make. In that latter category is this new Bulova Accu-Swiss Percheron ref. 65B164 watch in the world's only 24k gold case. In addition to the interesting use of material, it also features a new design and wild looking strap, the latter of which I will dedicate some time to discussing at the end of this article.
The 24k gold Bulova Accu-Swiss Percheron is a pet project of the still-new Bulova President Greg Thumm. As a watchmaker, Thumm himself always wanted a timepiece made out of 24k, versus 18k, gold. The difference is that 24k gold is pure gold, and 18k gold is an alloy. Why do luxury watches use a gold alloy? Are they trying to be cheap? Not at all, 18k gold is used because pure gold is too soft for most purposes, especially for a watch case. Pure gold will wear away and scratch very easily, so 18k (or historically 14k) gold is preferred.
So how did Bulova get away with producing a watch case from 999.9 pure gold? The answer is in forging. Bulova discovered a process where pure gold could be forge hardened to make it much more useful as a case material. Because of the forging process, the gold is said to be much more durable and thus useful for what Bulova wanted.
24k gold is used for the entirely of the case, save for the screws and some detailing, and makes up a new case design released by Bulova for 2014 that they call the Percheron. "You have no idea how difficult it is find available names for watches" Bulova explained to me. I have no doubt. It is common practice for companies of all types of register an "intent to use" for a future trademark. Percheron might be a difficult to remember name, but it a term that applied to a particular French breed of horse–so it does have an equestrian angle. Bulova will produce other Percheron watches of course, and the 24k gold model will simply sit at the top of the ladder, being a particularly unique model.
What else will the Bulova Accu-Swiss Percheron be used for? Last year we announced that Bulova was the new official timer and timepiece partner of Manchester United. The Percheron case will serve as the base for the first round of timepieces Bulova makes for the famous English football (soccer) club (team). In fact, Bulova will put the Manchester United logo on the dial of the Percheron 24k gold watch if the client wishes. I believe some of the Manchester United players have already ordered this.
Sort of cushion-shaped, the Percheron case is surprisingly sized at just 40mm wide. It wears larger due to its overall thickness and cushion shape, but at 40mm wide it is comparatively mid-sized compared to other watches out there of this ilk. Unique design elements are the lug structures as well as the black-colored hexagonal screws used in the each of the four corners of the bezel as well as an insert in the crown. The case, of course, has an anti-reflective-coated sapphire crystal and is water resistant to 100 meters. The black elements on the case are most produced from grade 5 titanium.