Vianney Halter Returns with the Deep Space Resonance

A triple-axis tourbillon with twin balance wheels.

After a seven-year hiatus since the launch of his last watch, Vianney Halter is back with the Deep Space Resonance.

Unveiled in prototype form but slated for delivery in summer 2021, the Deep Space Resonance is an impressively complex watch – the tourbillon assembly alone is 371 parts – that builds on the Deep Space Tourbillon of 2013. Like its predecessor, the new watch is also a triple-axis tourbillon, but now equipped with a pair of hairsprings and balance wheels within the tourbillon – both of which beat in acoustic resonance according to Mr Halter.

Initial thoughts

The Deep Space Resonance is a unique complication, to a degree. It’s a first in combining a triple-axis tourbillon with double balance wheels beating in acoustic, rather than mechanical, resonance. And the incorporation of the acoustic resonance phenomenon is also a first in watchmaking as far as I know, though it is somewhat fuzzy in terms of how it enhances the functioning of the watch.

The tourbillon and its driving wheels

The closest anyone else has come to this is Beat Haldimann with his H2 that has a flying tourbillon rotating on a single plane but with twin, mechanically-resonating balance wheels.

Still, arriving as it is in 2021, the Deep Space Resonance feels overdue. The best known mechanical-resonance wristwatches came long before: the Haldimann H2 made its debut in 2005, while the better-known F.P Journe Resonance in 2000. And the Philippe Dufour Duality, which relies on twin balance wheels linked by a differential, was premiered in 1996.

Nonetheless, the Deep Space Resonance is perhaps the ultimate evolution of the resonating-oscillator concept, which is several centuries old. The F.P. Journe Resonance and other like it drew on double-pendulum clocks made in the 18th century by the likes of Janvier and Breguet. Even the Philippe Dufour Duality was inspired by several pocket watches made in the 1930s.

Poising the innermost tourbillon cage in order to make sure it is not heavier on any edge

But for all its technical and historical accomplishment, the Deep Space Resonance is an expensive watch. Priced at 860,000 Swiss francs before taxes – that’s about US$970,000 – the Deep Space Resonance costs as much as the F.P. Journe Astronomic Souveraine Grand Complication, a lot more than the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Grande Sonnerie Carillon, and not much less than the Patek Philippe ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie.

Resonating acoustics

According to Mr Halter, the Deep Space Resonance originates in 1996, when he first started to play the piano and noticed the acoustic-resonance phenomenon. That led him to historical research on resonating oscillators in watches, including the work of Abraham-Louis Breguet.

The Deep Space Tourbillon of 2013

Over some two decades, that led to the Deep Space Resonance. According to Mr Halter, because the two balance wheels have the same natural acoustic frequency, they amplify the sound of each other’s beat, creating acoustic resonance. Because the resonance is acoustic, rather than mechanical, the twin balances might not oscillate in the same direction simultaneously.

This contrasts with earlier watches that rely on mechanical resonance, where the natural frequency of each balance wheel reinforces the other via vibrations transmitted through the air and structure that connects the two.

The twin balance wheels of the Deep Space Resonance are contained within a three tourbillon cages, all held together by cone-shaped steel pillars, a detail modelled on a 19th-century marine chronometer by French watchmaker Achille Benôit that has the same pillar-type construction.

Making one revolution a minute, the innermost cage sits within a “traverse” cage that rotates once every six minutes on the horizontal axis – like a barbecue spit – which, in turn, is mounted on a cradle that makes one revolution of the dial every 30 minutes.

The cages are supported by 42 steel pillars

Time is indicated via two discs visible through apertures on the dial. Though the display is simple, it is relatively difficult to read on the prototype, although Mr Halter promises a redesigned and more legible dial on the production watch due in summer of this year.

Hours and quarters are indicated with an arrow in a window at 12 o’clock, while the minutes past the current quarter are shown in the wider aperture on the lower edge of the dial.

The hours and quarters are easy enough to read, with each hashmark representing 15 minutes. But the minutes are more complicated. They are indicated on a Vernier scale, which requires a determination of which pair of hashmarks line up best with each other, as done on a pair of Vernier callipers. The time shown below is slightly past three o’clock, specifically 3:01, since the minute hashmark that lines up is the first one past “0”.

The movement and dial free of the case, showing a time of 3:01

Reading the Vernier minute scale: the best match for the minute hashmarks above is six, meaning it is six minutes past the current quarter

All photos copyright Guy Lucas de Peslouan

Key Facts and Price

Vianney Halter Deep Space Resonance

Diameter: 46 mm
Height: 20 mm (including crystal)
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: VH 113
Functions: Hours, and minutes
Additional features: Triple-axis tourbillon containing twin balance wheels
Winding: Hand wind
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 65 hours

Strap: Crocodile with titanium folding clasp

Limited edition: Two pieces per year
: Direct from Vianney Halter, with first example scheduled to be delivered in summer 2021
Price: 860,000 Swiss francs before taxes

For more, visit

Addition January 8, 2020: The Philippe Dufour Duality relies on twin balance wheels linked by a differential, instead of Resonance as implied in an earlier version of the article.

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Zenith Introduces the Final Remake of the Original, 1969 El Primero Trio

The Chronomaster Revival A385.

After having brought back the A384 and A386 for the 50th anniversary of the El Primero in 2019, Zenith has finally remade the last of the three original, 1969 El Primero chronographs. Like the earlier two re-editions, the Chronomaster Revival A385 is faithful to the original, retaining both the proportions of the case and dial – while also boasting a historically-correct movement, an accomplishment exclusive to Zenith since its never stopped making the calibre.

As it was with the vintage originals, the A385 remake has the same the tonneau-shaped case found on the A384, but stands out with its smoked dial finish, a defining feature of the original, which also has a cool backstory. In 1970, an original A385 was fastened to the landing gear of a Boeing 707 operated by Air France on a flight from Paris to New York – and the watch kept perfect time on landing.

A vintage brochure showing the original El Primero trio that made their debut in 1969

Initial thoughts

Being a spot-on reissue means the A385 is unimaginative, but that precisely what makes it appealing. In fact, it’s difficult to not like the watch, which retains all of the qualities of the original – from design to landmark movement – while being reasonably priced, as Zenith watches most often are.

And the icing on the cake is the dial finish, a warm tone sets it apart from the many El Primero re-editions, most of which are dressed in plainer colours. The smoked, coffee-colour dial also evokes the faded, “tropical” look desired on some vintage watches. While “tropical” dials have been remade frequently by many brands, amongst them Longines and Panerai, it’s uncommon for Zenith.

The remake has a graduated, coffee-coloured dial with a deliciously warm character

Starting at US$7,700 for the version on a strap, the A385 is in line with Zenith’s other El Primero chronographs, which are honestly-priced in the first place. And for an additional US$500 you get a steel bracelet modelled on the vintage “ladder” bracelet made by Gay Frères that is synonymous with the vintage El Primero. Not only does the bracelet replicate the look, it is also lightweight and slightly dinky, as the original was.

Details done right

Zenith has become proficient in faithful vintage remakes, partly by relying on technical drawings for the vintage originals.

The 37 mm case of the A385 is practically identical to the original, right down to the radial brushed finish on the front. Zenith got most of the details right, though the watch has a modern presence with a solid construction and neater finishing. The crystal is now scratch-resistant sapphire, while the case back has a porthole in the centre to show off the movement – the El Primero 400, a gently upgraded version of the original launched in 1969.

Perhaps the most striking amongst El Primero remakes, the dial is similarly faithful to the original, though not quite identical. In photo at least, the dial colour appears more caramel than the original, which has more grey undertones.

Key facts and price

Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385
Ref. 03.A384.400/385.C855 (strap)
Ref. 03.A384.400/385.M385 (bracelet)

Diameter: 37 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: El Primero 400
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Leather strap with pin buckle or “ladder” bracelet

Limited edition: No
Availability: At Zenith boutiques, retailers, and online shop
Strap – US$7,700; or S$11,600
Bracelet – US$ 8,200; or S$12,400

For more, visit


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