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05/23/2024
 4 minutes

What Is a Microrotor Watch? Three Current Models in Comparison

By Sebastian Swart
Czapek-Antarctique-Passage-De-Drake-Black-Label-2-2-1

What Is a Microrotor Watch? Three Current Models in Comparison

Luxury mechanical watches with a microrotor are comparatively rare and a niche segment in the watch world. However, the concept of a microrotor mainspring is much older than you might think. Watchmakers Buren and Universal Genève were the first to introduce automatic movements with a microrotor in the mid-1950s. Brands like Piaget and Patek Philippe followed shortly thereafter with their own microrotor calibers at the end of the same decade.

Before we dive into a few current microrotor watches, let’s review some basic watch knowledge.

What is a microrotor, and why was it created?

A microrotor is a special kind of rotor used in automatic calibers. It takes up less space than the rotors you’re probably used to seeing in watches, and can be better integrated into the movement.

Any time watchmakers use a microrotor movement, they’re trying to achieve a caliber that’s as flat as possible, allowing for a thin, elegant watch. One drawback of this smaller, integrated rotor however, compared to the larger, much more common rotors that are mounted on top of a movement, is that a microrotor delivers much less rotational momentum for winding the watch. To compensate for this deficit and to achieve higher efficiency, denser, heavier materials such as gold or platinum are used to make the microrotor. They are also typically bidirectional, so that virtually any movement of the wearer’s arm winds the timepiece and transfers energy to the mainspring.

There are a number of brands offering luxury watches with a microrotor these days. We’re looking at three of them and their current models below.

Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake

The Genevan luxury watchmaker Czapek & Cie offers a number of different timepieces within its Antarctique collection featuring a microrotor caliber. They offer the three-hand Passage de Drake with a black, dark blue, light blue, and even purple and silver dial. All of them have a three-dimensional surface, creating a play of shadows that Czapek calls “Stairway to Eternity.” This stainless steel watch comes on an integrated bracelet, and has a case diameter of 40.5 mm.

The watch is powered by the in-house black-anodized Czapek SXH5.01 microrotor caliber. The rotor itself is made of recycled platinum; it is positioned off-center to allow a full view of the movement’s architecture, including its variable-intertia balance wheel, which beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz). It also features seven skeletonized bridges that support the gear train. The SXH5.01 has a power reserve of over 60 hours. Incidentally, this is the same caliber that Czapek uses in its Mount Erebus model, as well as in the new Green Meteor release launched at Watches and Wonders 2024.

The Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake can be yours for between $20,000 and $25,000 on Chrono24.

Czapek Antarctique Passage De Drake – Manufakturkaliber SXH5 mit Mikrorotor
The Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake, with the in-house SXH5 microrotor caliber

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ref. 102713

Italian design meets Swiss technology for our second watch, the Octo Finissimo Ref. 102713. Released in 2017, it’s become a permanent fixture in the catalog of Italian jewelry and watchmaker Bulgari. Its bracelet and 40-mm octagonal case are made of dark gray titanium, the same color as the dial, which is also made of titanium and features hour and minute hands and a small seconds subdial at the 7 and 8 o’clock positions. At just 5.15 mm, the thinness of this watch is simply remarkable.

This is made possible by the ultra-thin, 2.23-mm Bulgari in-house microrotor caliber BVL 138. Like the movement in the Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake, it’s made of platinum and off-center. The BVL 138 caliber pulses at 21,600 vibrations per hour (3 Hz), and is decorated with Geneva striping and perlage to complement its beautiful angles. Fully wound, it has a power reserve of 60 hours.

An unworn Bulgari Octo Finissimo ref. 102713 can be yours for $13,750 on Chrono24.

Italienisches Design trifft auf Schweizer Uhrmacherkunst – Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ref. 102713
Italian design meets Swiss watchmaking: the Bulgari Octo Finissimo ref. 102713

Laurent Ferrier Classic Micro-Rotor Blue

The Swiss fine luxury watchmaker Laurent Ferrier, headquartered in Plan-les-Ouates, has an entire Micro-Rotor collection featuring their Classic and Square models. Let’s take a closer look at the Classic Micro-Rotor Blue (ref. LCF004.G1.CG2).

The 40-mm white gold case has a thickness of only 11.10 mm. This watch has a blue, vertical satin-brushed finish. Like the Bulgari Octo Finissimo, it displays the time with central hour and minute hands, and a small seconds subdial that you’ll find at 6 o’clock on the Classic Micro-Rotor Blue, giving it a very symmetrical appearance.

The in-house FBN229.01 caliber is the beating heart of the Classic Micro-Rotor Blue. Its microrotor is made of gold and fixed between the main plate and microrotor bridge. It also features a silicon escapement with a double direct impulse on the balance, along with a so-called silent block shock protection system for the microrotor. This movement beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour (3 Hz), and has an impressive power reserve of 72 hours.

At a price of around $62,000, this Laurent Ferrier is clearly the most expensive watch on our list today, and the most exclusive one.

Exklusiver Zeitmesser mit Mikrorotor – Laurent Ferrier Classic Micro-Rotor Blue
An exclusive microrotor timepiece: the Laurent Ferrier Classic Micro-Rotor Blue

That’s our list of three microrotor luxury watches you can buy today. Which one will you choose?


About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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