The Perrelet Turbine Carbon Racing honours the world of motorsport with several aesthetic elements. Red and white kerb-style accents and a turbine that resembles a rotating race car wheel pay tribute to the die-hard competitors who frequently engage in wheel-to-wheel battles. As Angus Davies reveals, this high-performance watch may have a low mass courtesy of its carbon fibre elements, but it is undoubtedly a horological heavyweight.
In the octane-rich world of motorsport, engine power, downforce, grip and weight are important considerations that directly influence on-track performance. Professional race teams expend many hours and colossal sums of money optimising each critical element of a car in the pursuit of championship points and podium glory.
In terms of most racing formulae, the cars must meet a minimum requirement, a rule all competing teams must adhere to. However, the best teams actually engineer the car to be underweight and then comply with the regulations by adding ballast. This may sound strange, but the position of the ballast can be optimised to ensure the best ‘balance’. A championship-winning race car has to be light and, for safety reasons, very strong.
One of the lightweight materials that is much loved by all teams is carbon fibre. It is ultralight and very strong. It’s also very stiff, once again, a useful attribute for a race car. Unfortunately, making carbon fibre components requires specialist know-how and its creation is labour intensive, two factors which heighten cost.
However, when championship points mean millions of Euros in terms of prize money, sponsorship and other forms of revenue, the eye-watering cost of a carbon fibre wing is probably of little consequence.
Invariably, for most watch buyers, cost is a consideration. A timepiece composed of various carbon fibre parts can often prove prohibitively expensive.
Perrelet has an impressive track record of crafting contemporary timepieces, housed in cases formed of polycarbonate and carbon fibre and, most notably, offering these watches at comparatively keen prices.
Founded in 1777, Perrelet is unequivocally a brand with much heritage. However, from the outset, the Maison has always been innovative. Abraham-Louis Perrelet masterminded the self-winding movement, employing a semi-circular weight for energising the mainspring, a system that is in widespread use today.
When the inaugural version of the Turbine burst onto the watch scene back in 2009, it looked unlike anything that had gone before. Inspired by Abraham-Louis Perrelet’s invention of 1777, the watch was automatic, employing a conventional oscillating mass positioned to the rear. However, a rotor or ‘turbine’, whirling with extraordinary alacrity, located centre stage, bestowed a dynamic, slightly hypnotic spectacle. The turbine did not energise the mainspring as this would inhibit its rotational speed. Its purpose was to deliver a unique visual effect.
Similar to a zoopraxiscope of the 19th century that fooled the eye into thinking a static object was in motion, the turbine fitted to the Perrelet delivers an animated spectacle in a highly imaginative way. Beneath the turbine’s blades, the detail on the lower dial comes into view and eventually, the turbine seemingly disappears as the rotational velocity reaches a near-dizzying speed. The allure of the turbine has led to the model’s impressive commercial success.
This year, Perrelet has combined the turbine with cutting-edge carbon fibre and polycarbonate, releasing the Turbine Carbon Black Edition, the Turbine Rainbow and now the new Perrelet Turbine Carbon Racing.
Carbon fibre is notoriously expensive, however, when it comes to watches, Perrelet has democratised the material. Indeed, with the advent of the company’s 2022 models, the Turbine Rainbow, Turbine Carbon Black Edition and now the Perrelet Turbine Carbon Racing, the Maison has brought the lightweight material within reach of a far larger audience.
Front of house, the 12 turbine blades rotate above a sea of blackness. However, while the lower dial eschews the vibrant hues found on some Turbine models, it masterfully plays with perspectives, creating the illusion of a racing tyre in motion.
But such cleverness does not mar practicality. Indeed, no one could accuse Perrelet of sacrificing day-to-day wearability on the altar of style. The fulsome hour and minute hands along with the bold hour markers, articulate the time perfectly.
Likewise, the low mass of the watch is not merely intended to confer bragging rights, it also heightens wearer comfort, a practical consideration for most watch buyers.
When a race car hurtles around a race circuit, everything is maximised for performance with scant thought for longevity. Cast your mind back to many motor races over the years and recall the sight of engines blowing up and trails of oil left in their wake.
The in-house, highly precise calibre P-331-MH has not only been engineered for performance alone but also with longevity in mind. It is certified Chronofiable and has been subjected to harsh treatment within a laboratory to ensure that it will continue to perform for years to come. And while this watch honours motor racing, it will clip far more apexes and see many more chequered flags than most raucous race cars. It seems with the Perrelet Turbine Carbon Racing, the Swiss marque has produced another winning performance.