The world of affordable Swiss made tourbillons is red hot! Swiss maison, Ba111od released a new model – the Chapter 4 in 2021. A Swiss made tourbillon for less than CHF 4,000, launch price. We received a loaner for review. And here is our comprehensive review of the Ba1110d Chapter 4.
Review: New king of affordable Swiss tourbillons: – the Ba1110d Chapter 4.1 TVD
The Ba1110d Chapter 4.1 TVD is now available at CHF 4,920 before VAT. The first 30 units were offered at CHF 3,920 before VAT. Limited edition of 220 pieces.
The nomenclature of the brand is peculiar. First the brand name of Ba111od. Named after the founder Thomas Baillod, the “ill” in the middle is replaced with triple 1s. The Ba111od literature tries to explain it, but we found it cryptic. Perhaps its the language barrier, as the text has obviously been translated from French, and the company based in Neuchâtel. Anyhow, we find it cute, and rather interesting.
The model name is also interesting, but not cryptic at all. This is the fourth chapter in the maison. Chapters 1 and 2 were experimental, designed to test Baillod’s approach. And was launched in 2019 via LinkedIn. These were not tourbillons, but self winding watches with double oscillators. They were designed and assembled in Switzerland, but produced in Asia. The selling price was CHF 400. He sold 1,5000 watches in the first year. Mostly to the French speaking Switzerland. He achieved CHF 1m in sales in 18 months. Encouraged, he launched Chapter 3. This time made in Switzerland. It was a self-winding model with an openworked dial with Geneva stripes and priced at about CHF 500.
Chapter 4 is the next one. This time, a hand-wound tourbillon. Completely manufactured in Switzerland. The name of Chapter 4.1 “The Veblen Dilemma” was chosen as a nod to the Veblen effect. Named after the economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929), it refers to the snobbery which considers that the high price of a luxury good makes it more desirable. And conversely, that an accessible price necessarily corresponds to a lower intrinsic value. BA111OD, with its tourbillon, poses itself as the dilemma.
The case, dial and hands
The case is a rather classical round case, with sloped shoulder lugs. The case is executed in titanium, and measures 43mm in diameter. The case has a brushed matte finish, and is treated with DLC Black Ice to create a shade of grey which Ba111od calls gun metal anthracite.
The dial is openworked. With a peripheral ring bearing the minute markers on the flat upper surface, and marked in arabic numerals at 5 minute intervals on the beveled inside edge. The rest of the dial is non-existant, and the movement is visible in its entirety.
The dial is otherwise a simple affair. The hour and minute hands are Dauphine shaped, with hollowed out insides, and with the triangular tip infilled with SuperLuminova. The seconds hand is a straight, flat needle with a small counter weight, and is directly mounted on the carriage of the one minute tourbillon, visible though its skeletonised and curved bridge. The bridge, the circumference ring around the seconds hand and another ring around the outside periphery is in blue. Ba111od does not specify what is the bluing method, but the hue looks like its made of flame blued titanium. But we are guessing. It might as well be chemically blued.
But the overall effect is rather nice. The 43mm case can be rather imposing, and the open worked dial with curved elements is quite fetching.
The movement is the work of the Swiss atelier of Olivier Mory of BCP Tourbillons in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Olivier is a respected watchmaker. A mechanical, hand-wound movement, it is designated as BA.01 and the balance beats at 21,600 bph with a power reserve of 105 hours. The tourbillon itself is equipped with a balance with variable inertia slots for regulation and adjustment. And Ba111od extends a 2 year warranty for it.
Movement finishing is judged to be decently good. Some elements of traditional finishing are found on the movement, viz a viz anglage, inward angles, blued screws, rolled pivots and even double sided finishing for the wheel train. But the level of finesse in which these were accomplished had no pretensions of being haute horlogerie with its attendent cosmetic and highly stylised finishing. But demonstrated excellent engineering practice. At this price level, even if it were just a three hand movement sans tourbillon, this level of finishing would be de rigeur, and totally acceptable. But for a movement where the watchmaker’s time and energy needed to be spent on the complication, this level of finishing is rather impressive.
The landscape for affordable tourbillons is extremely thin. As far as we know, only Horage offers a watch with a Swiss made tourbillon for less than CHF 10k before taxes.
The Ba1110d Chapter 4 was unveiled on October 11, 2021, not long after we made our comprehensive review of the Horage Tourbillon 1 which was offered at CHF 7,480 before taxes. Horage has since discontinued the Tourbillon 1, and replaced it with the Horage Lensman 1 currently retailing at CHF 8,390 with the price increasing from February 28, 2023 onwards, the Lensman 1 will be set at a retail price of CHF 8,890.
Both the Ba111od and the Horage Lensman1 handily undercuts the TAG Heuer Carrera 02T Chronograph Tourbillon which currently retails at SGD 28,250 (approximately CHF 19,800 with tax) for the least expensive variant. . Admittedly the TAG also includes a chronograph for additional utility.
As we discussed in the Horage Tourbillon 1 review, there are lower priced tourbillons are available in the market, but these will inevitably be those from mass market Chinese manufactures. Needless to say, these tourbillons are not quite at the level of the Swiss or Germans, and leave quite a bit to be desired in terms of finish and reliable operations. Perhaps soon these Chinese tourbillons may be able to offer an alternative, but as of now, we do not think they do.
A rather nice watch, we think. It worked well during the 3 weeks or so it was with us, taking everything a corporate life can throw at it in an urban environment. It looked great, and though not in the company of regular folks, it was the center of attention of any gathering of watch collectors. Most of whom have wowed and oohed at the fact that this was a well designed, well made tourbillon selling for less than the least expensive Rolex.
So we are impressed. And throughly endorse the Ba111ord Chapter 4.1. Needless to say, but we will say it anyway, we have not received any compensation of any kind for this review. Only the kind loaner for 3 weeks of wear and photography. And we were more than a tinge sad when the time came for us to return the Chapter 4 to Neuchâtel.
The Ba111od Chapter 4 was photographed in our studio with our usual gear – the Fujifilm GFX 50S II with Hasselblad HC 4/120 Macro and HC 2.8/80 + H26 Extension Tube via the H Adapter G. Profoto strobes.
Ba1110d Chapter 4 Specifications
Movement: mechanical hand-wound caliber BA.01 (base BCP Tourbillon), 21,600 vibrations per hour (3 Hertz), variable inertia balance, 19 jewels. Over 5000 G shock resistance.
Functions: hours, minutes, Tourbillon at 6 o’clock, 105 hours power reserve (more than 4 days).
43 mm diameter case: 50 meters water resistant case in grade 5 titanium treated with DLC Black Ice (gun metal anthracite)
Dial: semi-open dial according to an original design,
hands covered with SuperLuminova
Smart bracelet (insertion of an NFC emitting chip).
A series of 220 watches, a tribute to the 220th anniversary of the Tourbillon
BCP Tourbillons, Olivier Mory derdiedas.design, Claudio Orlando Madeness Solutions Lab SA, Fabien Brisebard Develop Your Watch Sàrl, Miguel Bolea DM surfaces SA, Raynald Favre Iseotec SA, Emeric Chopard Estima SA, T-Technology.