Purnell was one of the last brands accepted into Watches & Wonders 2020 and it would have been nice to see their debut had the fair not been cancelled. They have kept a fairly low profile till recently, up until the launch of the amazing Spherion with the world’s fastest triple-axis tourbillon last year that we covered. (Click to read here.)The brand has undergone quite a number of changes recently with the most noticeable being that it has been renamed to “Purnell”, from the previous “Cecil Purnell”. Founded in 2006 by Jonathan Purnell, the brand’s focus has been to make only tourbillon watches, and thus far they have produced 13 tourbillon calibres. So why then have you probably not heard of them? Well, this is a brand that so far has only been known by the most exclusive clientele, that is only now starting to stake a claim in one of the most difficult and demanding genres of watchmaking.
Indeed it was the launch of the Spherion that brought the brand the attention that has caused much of the changes we have seen. Invented by watchmaking maestro Eric Coudray in 2016, the Spherion is not only the world’s fastest triple-axis tourbillon, achieved through the use of lightweight titanium for its cages, it is also highly visible due to the design of the case and crystal. Find out more about the Spherion, now renamed as the Escape 1 and part of the Escape collection at our article at the link below.
Purnell has also hired a new CEO (Maurizio Mazzocchi) and added a marketing team, which goes to show the extent of the brand’s ambition in the high horology space.
So now let’s look to the new releases that were due to launch at Watches and Wonders, but before that let’s remind ourselves why the original Spherion was such a wondrous thing.
That my friends is a triple axis tourbillon in motion.
Now imagine a watch having two triple axis tourbillons instead of one, and what you will end up with is the Escape II, a watch that was launched late last year in Taiwan.
What do you call a watch like this then? A sextupule axis tourbillon? I don’t know. But whatever you call it it is amazing to view.
The Escape II has two counter rotating triple axis tourbillons (or Spherions as the brand calls them) meaning that they rotate opposite to each other. The additional load has caused a slight decrease in power reserve, with the double triple-axis tourbillon Escape II having 32 hour power reserve instead of the 40 hours of the single triple-axis tourbillon Escape I.
So what do we have for this year? First, the Escape II Carbon, which as the name implies comes in a forged carbon case. Three versions are available, in pink, yellow and green.
Second, and this is probably the more shocking one, the Escape IIS Treasure. Now the S in the name stands for “Small” since this is a watch that comes in a smaller 44mm case instead of the non-S at 48mm. Why the word “Treasure”? Well, take a close look at the outer tourbillon cage, and you will note the gems that now decorate the outer tourbillon cage of each triple-axis tourbillon (or Spherion).
Yes, you heard that right – gemstones on the tourbillon cage, or 152 brilliant-cut diamonds in fact, or a total of 304 brilliant-cut diamonds per watch.
This is a watch obviously meant for the ladies, with its smaller size, and its blinged out aesthetic. 44mm might be quite big normally, but I’m not too worried about the size, since the 48mm Escape I was immensely wearable on account of the case design which had short lugs and was almost weightless. This was partly on account of the 15.7 gram movement which the Escape IIS has maintained, which is identical to that of the Escape I. With the extra diamonds though, each triple axis tourbillon comes in at 0.831grams versus the 0.79562 grams of the Escape I without diamonds.
Part of the weight difference can also be explained by the redesigned outer tourbillon cage, which has a different arm architecture which is wider to leave enough space to set the stones.
The Escape IIS Treasure comes in a couple of variations for now, one in a black titanium case with diamond set Spherions, and another with a rose gold case and rainbow gem-set Spherions.
For those who want to ramp up the bling even more, there is the Escape IIS Treasure Baguette and the Escape IIS Treasure Baguette Rainbow. Try to guess which is which from the pictures below.
The prices for the watches range from CHF 435,000 for the Escape II Carbon, all the way to the Escape IIS Treasure Baguette White Diamonds or Rainbow at CHF 1,090,000. Though if you’re a customer for a watch like this, you’ll be pleased to know that these numbers are just the starting point since it is possible to customise many aspects of the watches, including the colour of the titanium cages, and parts of the movement.