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Round-UpSmall Oscillations, Big Power: Some Of The Finest Micro-Rotor Watches, From Bulgari, Panerai, H. Moser, Ulysse Nardin And Others

Invented about 70-odd years ago, a micro-rotor is a smaller version of the winding rotor in an automatic calibre of a watch that powers it. Thanks to its size, the micro-rotor integrates within the movement and allows for a thinner watch. Naturally, it isn't the easiest thing to incorporate into a movement. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the most impressive micro-rotor timepieces available today

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To the untrained eye, a micro-rotor in a watch may just elicit something like, “Hey, that’s neat!” not necessarily giving the mechanism any more thought than that. However, a micro-rotor-clad automatic calibre serves a multitude of purposes, a topic that may become clearer once we look at some of the best micro-rotor watches available today. 

For starters, a micro-rotor mechanism was developed and integrated into a watch since the rotor allows for better integration into the movement, making for a thinner calibre overall. It allows for better visibility of the movement and improves the aesthetics of the timepiece. 

Of course, with a micro-rotor being comparatively smaller than a regular-sized rotor, there were bound to be drawbacks. As a result of its size, it often doesn’t generate enough power. To counteract this, heavier metals such as platinum or gold are often used, and the rotor is made bi-directional, meaning any sort of movement could power the mainspring. 

In horology, micro-rotors are still a niche little subset, with not too many timepieces opting for it. However, there are a bunch of timepieces that do it better than most, and they deserve a mention. Let’s take a look at some of the best watches with micro-rotor movements. 

Micro Rotor watches
A micro-rotor, as visible here, is smaller than the conventional centrally aligned rotor. To compensate for its size, the micro-rotor is often made of denser materials, such as platinum or gold. Seen here is the Czapek SXH5 calibre with a micro-rotor in platinum

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic 

Since the launch of the Octo Finissimo watches by Bulgari in 2012, the brand has held the helm of the modern king of slim watches, albeit with fierce competition. Launched in 2017, the Octo Finissimo Automatic was the thinnest automatic timepiece at the time of its launch, and in our opinion, it perfectly encapsulated the idea of why a micro-rotor was even developed in the first place. 

Sure, when the first micro-rotor was developed in the 1950s, the creators probably didn’t think it’d be made to fit in a watch that’s 5.15mm thick (or did they?), but when Bulgari set out to make a thin automatic watch, involving a micro-rotor was the only way.

The Watch Guide

The micro-rotor was a part of the brand's in-house calibre BVL138, which gives the timepiece a power reserve of up to 60 hours

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Launched in 2017, the Octo Finissimo Automatic was the thinnest automatic timepiece at the time of its launch

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Any Octo Finissimo stands tall as an icon in the modern era of watchmaking, but this particular one, with its powerhouse of a movement, all powered by a micro-rotor, makes it one of the best ones

In classic Bulgari fashion, the timepiece knocked it out of the park with its execution. Set inside a 40mm steel case, the micro-rotor was a part of the brand’s in-house calibre BVL138, which gives the timepiece a power reserve of up to 60 hours. Any Octo Finissimo stands tall as an icon in the modern era of watchmaking, but this particular one, with its powerhouse of a movement, all powered by a micro-rotor, makes it one of the best ones.

Czapek Antactique Passage De Drake

Independent watchmakers Czapek & Cie offer some incredible timepieces, but perhaps their most famous is their Antarctique collection. It’s no surprise that a clean, integrated case and bracelet look is very well appreciated among fans. Adding to the exquisite execution are the nuanced details on the dial and the gorgeous micro-rotor that powers these watches, making things just that much better. 

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Independent watchmakers Czapek & Cie offer some incredible timepieces, but perhaps their most famous is their Antarctique collection. Pictured here is the Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake Deep Blue

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The Antarctique Passage De Drake timepieces come with the brand's very first in-house movement, the calibre SXH5, which comes with a platinum micro-rotor powering the timepiece, giving it a power reserve of over 60 hours

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Thanks to the use of the micro-rotor, more of the movement is on view, with five of the seven bridges being openworked, offering a gorgeous view of the inner workings

The Antarctique Passage de Drake timepieces come with the brand’s very first in-house movement, the calibre SXH5, which comes with a platinum micro-rotor powering the timepiece, giving it a power reserve of over 60 hours. Thanks to the use of the micro-rotor, more of the movement is on view, with five of the seven bridges being openworked, offering a gorgeous view of the inner workings. 

Parmigiani Tonda PF Micro-Rotor Rose Gold

Parmigiani, still something of a young brand, produces some phenomenal watches that scream elegance. Right from the get-go, it’s evident that this Tonda PF micro-rotor, with its clean lines, slim execution, knurled bezel, and gorgeously decorated dial, is a stunner.

With the extremely fine guilloché pattern on the dial, the tiny hour indexes, the almost invisible chapter ring to display the minutes, and the minimalistic date window, this watch is a pure delight. It’s gorgeous to look at, has a bracelet to match (some might even argue that the bracelet in itself is the main attraction), and has the mechanics to back up all this gorgeousness. 

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Right from the get-go, it’s evident that this Tonda PF micro-rotor, with its clean lines, slim execution, knurled bezel, and gorgeously decorated dial, is a stunner

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This sublime timepiece is powered by the PF703 calibre, which powers itself with, of course, a micro-rotor. Offering a power reserve of up to 48 hours, and it measures only 3mm in height, which is why the watch is as slim as it is at only 7.8mm in height

Parmigiani Tonda PF
Parmigiani Tonda PF

This sublime timepiece is powered by the PF703 calibre, which powers itself with, of course, a micro-rotor. Offering a power reserve of up to 48 hours, and it measures only 3mm in height, which is why the watch is as slim as it is at only 7.8mm in height. The micro-rotor itself is decorated with a hand guilloché, while the view of the rest of the movement is a stunner on its own. 

Girard-Perregaux ‘Earth To Sky’ Neo Bridges

One of the oldest watchmakers in the world, Girard-Perregaux, with over a century and a half-worth of watchmaking prowess that they have developed, are always open to innovation, as is obvious with their Neo Bridges collection. 

This Neo Bridges ‘Earth To Sky’ timepiece takes forward their iconic ‘Three Bridges’ design but introduces contemporary elements. For starters, and per what we’re focusing on today, the micro-rotor of this watch is visible from the front at 10 o’clock, while the rest of the dial offers a magnificent view of the movement. 

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    One of the oldest watchmakers in the world, Girard-Perregaux, with over a century and a half of watchmaking prowess to their name, is always open to innovation, as is obvious with their “Neo Bridges” collection

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    For starters, and per what we’re focusing on today, the micro-rotor of this watch is visible from the front at 10 o’clock, while the rest of the dial offers a magnificent view of the movement

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    This Neo Bridges “Earth To Sky” timepiece takes forward their iconic “Three Bridges” design but introduces contemporary elements

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    The gear train sits under the skeletonised hands, the blue barrel cover sits at 2 o’clock, and the balance wheel sits at 6 o’clock

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    The in-house calibre of this timepiece gives it a power reserve of 54 hours

Girard-Perregaux Neo Bridge Earth to Sky Edition
Girard-Perregaux Bridges

It’s the gorgeous display of the movement and the elements that perhaps is the best thing about this watch. The gear train sits under the skeletonised hands, the blue barrel cover sits at two o’clock, and the balance wheel sits at six o’clock. The in-house calibre of this timepiece gives it a power reserve of 54 hours. 

Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto Blue

Laurent Ferrier watches bring with them a juxtaposition of different shapes unlike any other, while offering a peculiar sense of symmetry. In the Sport Auto Blue itself, we see the playful interplay of the simple barrel-shaped case that merges a square and curved design. The dial itself offers a unique sense of symmetry owing to the large hour indices, and the date window. Its sloping design lends added character to the watch. 

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    The Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto Blue is powered by the Calibre LF270.01, which doesn’t disappoint with its attention to detail

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    In Laurent Ferrier's Sport Auto Blue, we see the playful interplay of the simple barrel-shaped case that merges a square and curved design

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    The oscillating weight of the micro-rotor is made of 950 platinum which is a dense material, and the movement offers the watch a power reserve of 72 hours when fully wound

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    The dial itself offers a unique sense of symmetry with the large hour indices, and the date window, with its sloping design, adds character to the watch

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    The movement features several internal angles, multiple zinc-polished surfaces, and numerous satin-finishing and circular-graining

Laurent Ferrier Sport
Laurent Ferrier Sport

The watch is powered by the calibre LF270.01, which doesn’t disappoint with its attention to detail. The oscillating weight of the micro-rotor is made of 950 platinum, which is a dense material. The movement offers the watch a power reserve of 72 hours when fully wound. The movement features several internal angles, multiple zinc-polished surfaces, and numerous satin-finishing and circular-graining.

Panerai Luminor Due 45mm

The Italian watch brand, famous for its best-selling ‘Luminor’ collection, launched its first micro-rotor calibre in 2014 called the P.4000. The movement was fitted inside the Luminor Due 45mm, a robust timepiece that came with Panerai’s signature elements such as the crown guard, the sandwiched dial, and the oversized appearance. 

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Pictured here is the Luminor Due 45mm, a robust timepiece that came with Panerai’s signature elements such as the crown guard, the sandwiched dial, and the oversized appearance

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The 3.95mm movement came with a choice of a tungsten-built micro-rotor or a 22-karat rose gold micro-rotor. The movement provided the watch with a staggering power reserve of up to three days

The 3.95mm movement came with a choice of a tungsten-built micro-rotor or a 22-karat rose gold micro-rotor. The movement provided the watch with a staggering power reserve of up to three days. Coupled with the signature elements that define Panerai, and the gorgeous sun-brushed anthracite dial encased in a rose gold case, the Luminor Due 45mm is hailed as one of the best micro-rotor timepieces, largely thanks to the attention to detail that Italian brand Panerai have to offer. 

Speake-Marin Ripples 

There’s a lot you can say about the Ripples, yet, it appears as a simple enough watch at first glance. When you pay more attention, you find that the details of every minute artistic choice hold meaning. That is probably the reason why it’s young independent watchmaking brand Speake-Marin’s bestselling watch.

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    Speake-Marin's best selling collection, the Ripples, offers an integrated case and bracelet look with some signature details such as the interesting pattern on the dial, on which the watch is named

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    The in-house calibre SMA03-T, with its fully integrated micro-rotor on full display, powers the whole thing and delivers a power reserve of up to 52 hours

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    The timepiece has a 40.3mm case, with a slim 9mm profile, thanks to the micro-rotor movement

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    The small seconds sundial at 1:30 is a signature detail of Speake-Marin

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    On the movement, you can observe a multitude of finishes such as Geneva stripes and four hand-finished bridges

Speake-Marin Temptation
Speake-Marin Temptation

The timepiece has a 40.3mm case, with a slim 9mm profile, thanks to the micro-rotor movement. It’s got an integrated case and bracelet look going for it, with the ‘ripples’ pattern on the dial that creates a striking illusion of depth. The small seconds sundial at 1:30 is a signature detail of Speake-Marin. 

The in-house calibre SMA03-T, with its fully integrated micro-rotor on full display, powers the whole thing and delivers a power reserve of up to 52 hours. On the movement, you can observe myriad finishing including Geneva stripes, and other textures, seen on the four hand-finished bridges, and other elements. 

H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Small Seconds Blue Enamel

The Streamliner collection by H. Moser & Cie. has always been a stunner, and this Small Seconds Blue Enamel version with the brand’s first-ever micro-rotor movement was easily one of our favourite watches that came out in recent years. 

At 39mm and with the Streamliners first small-second timepiece, a new movement was needed, and in came the brand’s 18th in-house movement, the HMC 500. With a bi-directional pawl-winding system, the micro-rotor of this timepiece powers the mainspring, and, when fully wound, it can store up to three days of power. 

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    The H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Small Seconds Blue Enamel, with its slender 39mm frame and the iconic details that the Streamliner collection has to offer is an absolute stunner of a watch, becoming an immediate fan favourite upon launch

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    The brand’s 18th in-house movement, the HMC 500 powers this timepiece. It's equipped with a bi-directional pawl-winding system

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    At 39mm, this timepiece is the smallest to date in the Streamliner collection

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    The rotor is decorated with the H. Moser seal against a matt grey background. When fully wound, the movement offers the watch a power reserve of up to three days

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    With the smaller components, the movement allows the watch’s steel case to be as thin as 10.9mm, including the height of the sapphire crystal glass

If you can get your eyes off the aqua blue enamel dial and the contrast of the grained texture on the dial versus the smooth finish of the small seconds sub-dial, the caseback has quite a lot to offer as well. The rotor is decorated with the H. Moser seal against a matt grey background. The plates and bridges in the movement feature an anthracite grey coating with the brand’s signature double-stripe pattern. 

Corum Lab 01 Damascus Steel

When you hear ‘Damascus steel’, the first thing to come to mind is invariably a sword, probably yielded by an 11th-century soldier. The Corum Lab 01 timepieces feature this unique material for the case of their timepieces, which, in turn, leads to each case being one-of-a-kind due to the nature of the material.

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The Corum Lab 01 timepieces feature this unique material for the case of their timepieces, which, in turn, leads to each case being one-of-a-kind due to the nature of the material

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The barrel-shaped case of these watches crafted in Damascus Steel isn’t the only showstopper; the CO410 automatic calibre is completely visible from the front, thanks to the incredible skeletonisation on the dial

Corum Lab
Corum LAB

The barrel-shaped case of these watches, crafted in Damascus steel, isn’t the only showstopper; the CO410 automatic calibre is completely visible from the front, thanks to the incredible skeletonisation on the dial. Meanwhile, visible from the front and the back, is the micro-rotor of the movement that can store a power reserve of 50 hours when fully wound. 

Ulysse Nardin Blast Skeleton Tourbillion 

Ulysse Nardin are perhaps best known for their Freak timepieces, as the timepiece brought forth a new way of time-telling mechanics, even pioneering the use of silicon in a watch. The brand’s innovation doesn’t end there, however. The signature of the Blast timepieces is the X in the centre of the dial, accompanied by a rectangular bridge. Apart from this instantly recognisable feature that adds undeniable character to the piece, the skeletonised display of the watch, which reveals the tourbillon at six o’clock, makes it easy to see why this watch is as highly regarded as it is. 

Apart from all these intricate details, what makes this watch a great micro-rotor timepiece is the fact that it’s visible at 12 o’clock. The UN-171 calibre gives this timepiece a three-day power reserve. The micro-rotor, made from platinum and positioned at the top of the barrel, offers symmetry to the dial, despite the rather chaotic display. 

The Watch Guide

The signature of the Blast timepieces is the X in the centre of the dial, accompanied by a rectangular bridge. Apart from this instantly recognisable feature that adds undeniable character to the piece, the skeletonised display of the watch, revealing the tourbillon at six o’clock, makes it easy to see why this watch is as highly regarded as it is

The Watch Guide

Apart from all these intricate details, what makes this watch a great micro-rotor timepiece is the fact that it's visible at 12 o’clock. The UN-171 calibre gives this timepiece a three-day power reserve. The micro-rotor, made from platinum and positioned at the top of the barrel, offers symmetry to the dial, despite the rather choatic display

Ulysse Nardin Blast
Ulysse Nardin Blast

The micro-rotor niche is a small one, which is rather surprising, taking into account how long ago it was invented. The under-utilisation of the micro-rotor is perhaps what makes it more alluring, but one thing’s for certain: its inclusion in a timepiece makes a heck of a difference.

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