Courtesy of Wynn & Co. Jewelry
Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Wristwatches long ago became more than clocks. You can get them today with pulse monitors, GPS features, cameras and more. But a Swiss watchmaker has now gone one better.
Wynn Las Vegas has sold a one-of-a-kind timepiece by the venerable watchmaker Girard-Perregaux that features a built-in, entirely mechanical and absolutely addictive slot machine.
“We may never see anything to rival this in our lifetime,” said Doug Bradstreet, the fine watch and jewelry buyer for the Wynn, which had exclusive rights to sell it. “I’ve been doing this for a very long time, and I can’t tell you how excited I was when I first saw this piece.”
You might need a good night at the craps table to afford the $625,000 price — if you can get your hands on one. The one that’s been made so far is spoken for.
“I had a list of people who were eager to get it,” said Bradstreet, who wouldn’t say who bought the watch, except to say that it’s not Steve Wynn.
It won’t end up locked away. “Believe me, this person will wear it,” Bradstreet said.
The Vintage 1945 Jackpot Tourbillon has details to make watch fanciers’ eyes spin.
First, don’t be fooled by the name. It’s brand-new; Vintage 1945 refers to the case style.
The timepiece has a gold bridge but, surprisingly, no jewels. It’s encased in a pink-gold case with a see-through back and is water-resistant to 30 meters. It has an anti-reflective sapphire crystal and is mechanical with manual winding and a power reserve of four days. It has an alligator strap with a folding clasp and functions include hour, minute and second.
The tourbillon design is highly sought by collectors and one of the most challenging watch mechanisms to make. Perfected more than 200 years ago, it mounts the escapement in a rotating frame to counter the effect of gravity and other forces that affect the watch’s accuracy.
The clincher, of course, is the slot machine.
“This watch actually has two separate power sources, one for the watch, and one for the slot machine,” said Ronald Jackson, president of Girard-Perregaux. “This is an expensive watch not because we set out to create an expensive product. We had a concept in mind, and the expense comes from how it’s made and what it does.”
The challenge was not only to reduce a slot machine to the size of a watch, but to combine the different functions. It took almost three years to develop and more than 500 parts to accomplish.
The slot machine works much like a traditional one-armed bandit. Pulling the handle on the right side of the case starts the reels spinning. Each of the three reels stops on one of the five symbols, resulting in 125 possible combinations. The odds of getting three symbols in a row are one in 25. Every time a reel stops, a hammer is released, which chimes on a gong.
The handle on the side of the case is connected to a rack. When he handle is pulled, the rack slides up. When the rack reaches its highest point, it starts the reels spinning and slowly slides back down. When it has returned approximately two-thirds of the way, it activates stoppers, which stop the reels one by one, and synchronically activates the striking mechanism.
The company plans to make about 40 timepieces of similar — but not exactly the same — design over the next five years. Ten or so will be offered for sale in the United States.
The biggest challenge will be to meet that timetable, Jackson said, because of handcrafting.
“There is so much precision involved in making something like this,” Jackson said. “It really is a terribly complex machine.”