This year, Favre-Leuba celebrates its 280th anniversary with a watch that is sure to turn heads in the world of horology, a watch that sets new standards. The Bivouac 9000 is pushing the boundaries further than ever before because it is the first mechanical wristwatch capable of measuring altitudes of up to 9,000 meters above sea level.
The design team drew their inspiration for this creation from the company’s own history. In 1962, Favre-Leuba launched the world’s first mechanical wristwatch capable of measuring air pressure and altitudes of up to 3,000 meters above sea level. The reliability and precision of this watch, as well as the fact that it was easy to use and read, quickly made it a permanent feature on the wrists of mountain climbers, pilots, explorers and every pioneer performing in high altitudes. There is no point on earth at which the altitude is too high to be displayed by the Bivouac 9000.
The Bivouac 9000 is a homage to its legendary 1962 namesake, but has been improved and refined to make it capable of coping with the demands that are now placed on a highly functional instrument that is designed to be a reliable companion at extremely high altitudes.
The Bivouac 9000 still measures altitude with the aid of an aneroid barometer. The red central hand indicates the altitude on the bidirectional bezel, which carries a scale divided into 50-meter steps, up to 3,000 meters. One full clockwise rotation of the red central hand thus indicates a climb in altitude of 3,000 meters. During a climb, the small red hand of the subdial located at 3 o’clock continues to turn too, until, after three full rotations of the central hand, it arrives at its final destination of 9,000 meters above sea level. The bezel is held securely in place by a two-way ratchet mechanism that prevents it from being unintentionally moved to a different position.
The heart of the barometer is an airtight capsule made from a special alloy. The capsule expands when the air pressure drops as the wearer climbs and contracts when the air pressure rises during the descent. All that triggers a linear movement, which is then converted into a rotational movement to indicate the altitude. The altitude is made visible by the red hands on the stone-grey dial. The atmospheric air that is required to measure the altitude enters the chamber containing the barometer capsule through a three-millimeter opening in the case.
The Bivouac 9000 is also capable of displaying any changes in the air pressure at the same altitude. The hectopascal scale on the subdial located at 3 o’clock displays the current air pressure and therefore changes in the weather and thereof the possibly emerging dangerous situations. With its ability to provide such information, the Bivouac 9000 is an important instrument that helps climbers decide whether or not they should attempt the ascent or postpone it.
Together with the altimeter and air-pressure display, the dial also features a power-reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. It gives the wearer plenty of warning when the watch is running out of its 60 hours and should be wound again. At 9 o’clock the Bivouac 9000 features a running seconds which reassures the wearer that the watch is running properly and at 6 o’clock you will find a date window.
The luminous hour and minute hands and rectangular indexes stand out clearly against the discreet and understated stone-grey dial providing best legibility even in the dark. But the central alitmeter hand is clearly the star of the show with its eye-catching deep red color.
Below the dial is the hand wound calibre FL311 working which is based on the Eterna 39.
Unlike the 1962 Bivouac, the new version is also watertight. This is because the air inlet in the case, which is required for the barometer, is protected by a membrane that doesn’t allow water or dust particles to pass through.
The titanium case of the Favre-Leuba Bivouac 9000 measures a whooping 48 millimeters in diameter and comes at a leather bracelet.